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New Study on Kimchi

A new study has shown that consuming fermented kimchi (a source of lactobacilli bacteria), may alter the intestinal microbiome (composition of bacterial populations in the gut) and affect metabolic pathways for obese women.

In this eight-week study, daily kimchi consumption was associated with a significant reduction in the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes in obese women (this ratio is reportedly a good biomarker for obesity).

“[F]ermented kimchi, but not fresh kimchi, changed the expression level of several genes in blood that are mostly related to metabolic pathways and immunity,” wrote the researchers. “This phenomenon was accompanied by a decrease of genus Blautia and an increase of Prevotella and Bacteroides in the gut microbial population."

This means that it is conceivable that consumption of fermented kimchi can either:
  1. directly influence expression of human genes related to metabolic and immunity pathways, or 
  2. indirectly influence human metabolism by altering gut microbial composition.
This study adds to emerging body of evidence supporting the effects of gut microflora on metabolic  factors and obesity. Data showed that fermented kimchi altered gene expression linked to metabolism, immunity, blood circulation, digestion, and blood pressure.

Indeed, an earlier trial (Nutrition Research 2011, Vol. 31, pp. 436-443.) reported that fermented kimchi could influence blood pressure, waist-hip ratio, glucose and insulin levels, and total cholesterol.

“Additionally, we found that the relative abundance of Bacteroides and Prevotella was increased while that of Blautia was decreased after intake of fermented kimchi,” wrote the researchers. “This indicates that the subjects of the fermented kimchi group might be aligned with a ‘lean enterotype’ pattern as Bacteroides was reported to show negative correlation with obesity and Prevotella was found to be dominant in subjects with a low fat, high fiber diet.”

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Source: Contrasting effects of fresh and fermented kimchi consumption on gut microbiota composition and gene expression related to metabolic syndrome in obese Korean women

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