How many immune-boosting microbes do people eat?
Our gut microbiome – the trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses and germs that live in our digestive tracts – is hugely important when it comes to health, influencing our immune systems, as well as our physical and mental states.
But while we know that certain foods, such as fermented produce, yogurts, and non-starchy vegetables can help boost gut health, little is known about how many immune-boosting microorganisms people actually eat on a day-to-day basis as part of their diets.
To investigate, researchers estimated the number of microorganisms per gram in more than 9,000 food items, including those high in such organisms, like yogurt, pickles, and kimchi.
Then, to see how many people ate foods packed with microorganisms, the researchers took a detail look dietary data collected from 2001 to 2018 for almost 75,000 adults and children.
Overall, 26% of adults and 20% of children consumed foods with high levels of microorganisms, researchers reported in The Journal of Nutrition.
"When we think of microbes in our food, we often think of either foodborne pathogens that cause disease or probiotics that provide a documented health benefit," study co-author Colin Hill, PhD, of APC Microbiome Ireland at University College Cork, said in a statement.
"It is very timely to estimate the daily intake of microbes by individuals in modern society as a first step towards a scientific evaluation of the importance of dietary microbes in human health and well-being," he added.
*Image by rhys jung from Pixabay