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How Fermented Foods May Alter Your Microbiome and Improve Your Health – The New York Times

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Foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha increased the diversity of gut microbes and led to lower levels of inflammation.
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Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha have long been dietary staples in many parts of the world. Indeed, for thousands of years, different cultures relied on fermentation to produce bread and cheese, preserve meats and vegetables, and enhance the flavors and textures of many foods.
Now scientists are discovering that fermented foods may have intriguing effects on our gut. Eating these foods may alter the makeup of the trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi that inhabit our intestinal tracts, collectively known as the gut microbiome. They may also lead to lower levels of body-wide inflammation, which scientists increasingly link to a range of diseases tied to aging.
The latest findings come from a study published in the journal Cell that was carried out by researchers at Stanford University. They wanted to see what impact fermented foods might have on the gut and immune system, and how it might compare to eating a relatively healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and other fiber-rich foods.
For the study, the researchers recruited 36 healthy adults and randomly split them into groups. One group was assigned to increase their consumption of fiber-rich plant foods, while a second group was instructed to eat plenty of fermented foods, including yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and kimchi. These foods are made by combining milk, vegetables and other raw ingredients with microorganisms like yeast and bacteria. As a result, fermented foods are often teeming with live microorganisms, as well as byproducts of the fermentation process that include various vitamins and lactic and citric acids.
The participants followed the diets for 10 weeks while the researchers tracked markers of inflammation in their blood and looked for changes in their gut microbiomes. By the end of the study, the first group had doubled their fiber intake, from about 22 grams per day to 45 grams daily, which is roughly triple the average American intake. The second group went from consuming almost no fermented foods to eating about six servings a day. Although six servings might sound like a lot, it does not take much to get there: One cup of yogurt for breakfast, a 16-ounce bottle of kombucha tea at lunch, and a cup of kimchi at dinner amounts to six daily servings.
After the 10-week period, neither group had significant changes in measures of overall immune health. But the fermented food group showed marked reductions in 19 inflammatory compounds. Among the compounds that showed declines was interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein that tends to be elevated in diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The high-fiber group, in contrast, did not show an overall decrease in the same inflammatory compounds.
For people in the fermented foods group, the reductions in inflammatory markers coincided with changes in their guts. They began to harbor a wider and more diverse array of microbes, which is similar to what other recent studies of people who eat a variety of fermented foods have shown. The new research found that the more fermented foods people ate, the greater the number of microbial species that bloomed in their guts. Yet, surprisingly, just 5 percent of the new microbes that were detected in their guts appeared to come directly from the fermented foods that they ate.
“The vast majority came from somewhere else, and we don’t know where,” said Justin Sonnenburg, an author of the new study and a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford. “I think there were either low level microbes below the level of detection that bloomed, or the fermented foods did something that allowed for the rapid recruitment of other microbes into the gut environment.”
Higher levels of gut microbiome diversity are generally thought to be a good thing. Studies have linked it to lower rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic disease and other ills. People who live in industrialized nations tend to have less microbial diversity in their guts than those living in more traditional, nonindustrialized societies. Some scientists speculate that modern lifestyle factors like diets high in processed foods, chronic stress and physical inactivity may suppress the growth of potentially beneficial gut microbes. Others argue that the correlation between diverse microbiomes and good health is overblown, and that the low levels of microbiome diversity typically seen in people living in developed nations may be suitably adapted to a modern world.
One subject on which there is usually little disagreement among nutrition experts is the benefits of a high-fiber diet. In large studies, people who consume more fruits, vegetables, nuts and other fiber-rich foods tend to have lower rates of mortality and less chronic disease. Fiber is considered good for gut health: Microbes in the gut feed on fiber and use it to produce beneficial byproducts like short-chain fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation. Some studies also suggest that eating a lot of fiber promotes a diverse microbiome.
The Stanford researchers expected that consuming a high-fiber diet would have a big impact on the makeup of the microbiome. Instead, the high-fiber group tended to show few changes in their microbial diversity. But when the scientists looked closer, they discovered something striking. People who started out with higher levels of microbial diversity had reductions in inflammation on the high-fiber diet, while those who had the least microbial diversity had slight increases in inflammation when they ate more fiber.
The researchers said they suspect that the people with low microbiome diversity may have lacked the right microbes to digest all the fiber they consumed. One finding that supports this: The high-fiber group had unexpectedly large amounts of carbohydrates in their stool that had not been degraded by their gut microbes. One possibility is that their guts needed more time to adapt to the high-fiber diet. But ultimately this finding could explain why some people experience bloating and other uncomfortable gastrointestinal issues when they eat a lot of fiber, said Christopher Gardner, another author of the study.
“Maybe the challenges that some people have with fiber is that their microbiomes aren’t prepared for it,” said Dr. Gardner, the director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.
One question that the researchers hope to answer in the future is what would happen if people simultaneously ate more fermented foods as well as more fiber. Would that increase the variety of microbes in their guts and improve their ability to digest more fiber? Would the two have a synergistic effect on inflammation?
Suzanne Devkota, the director of Microbiome Research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who was not involved in the new study, said it has long been assumed that eating fermented foods had health benefits but that the new research provides some of the first “hard evidence” that it can influence the gut and inflammation. “We were always a little reluctant to make comments about fermented foods being beneficial, particularly from an inflammatory standpoint, because there was really no data behind that,” she said.
Dr. Devkota cautioned that the findings should not deter anyone from eating fiber-rich foods, because fiber has so many health benefits beyond its impact on the gut. She consumes a lot of fiber and fermented foods herself and often recommends that patients at Cedars-Sinai who have conditions like inflammatory bowel disease do the same. “This doesn’t change what I’ve been recommending,” she added. “But I’d probably switch a little more toward encouraging people to consume fermented foods because now I have data to point to that suggests there’s some anti-inflammatory properties.”
Dr. Devkota said more research was needed to better understand the links between fermented foods and overall health. But she suggested that one reason fermented foods may be beneficial is because the microorganisms they contain are constantly producing many nutrients during the fermentation process. “A jar of sauerkraut is a living food with stuff that is actively being produced, like vitamins,” she said. “When you eat a fermented food, you’re consuming all of those microbially produced chemicals that are good for you.”
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5 New Vendors to Know About at This Summer's 626 Night Market – Eater LA

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After missing all of 2020, SGV’s popular food event comes back with new street food picks
626 Night Market is finally making its return for a ninth season at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia after the pandemic put events on hold for the past year. The popular food event typically takes place 10 times from May to September and attracts up to 100,000 people each weekend. Although 626 Night Market has made a name for itself as an must-stop in SGV with more than 250 food, merchandise, and craft vendors, it’s also solidified itself as an incubator for highlighting upcoming culinary talent.
Many food operations that had humble beginnings at 626 Night Market have gone on to open their own permanent restaurants. “Those with less capital can test the waters here before trying to open a brick and mortar. Those that do well here can grow their fan base and go on to be very successful,” says Annika Yip, 626 Night Market Marketing Coordinator.
Some of the most successful 626 Night Market alumni include siblings Philip and Carol Kwan, who made their stand Mama Musubi a household name throughout LA farmers markets and at Smorgasburg. The Kwans also opened at Kitchen United in Pasadena, a cloud kitchen that allows customers to order meals from many of LA’s most popular restaurants. Philip Kwan went on to create many other successful food ventures such as Mission Control, Twisted Tiki, Mcfadden Public Market, and Amazebowls. The creator of the viral Ramen Burger, Keizo Shimamoto, took part in 626 Night Markets and opened in New York and LA’s Smorgasburg. Shimamoto later opened a Ramen Burger restaurant in Los Angeles’s Koreatown and a ramen restaurant in New York that closed last year. He is currently awaiting the opening of his new restaurant, Ramen Shack, in San Juan Capistrano, slated to open later this summer.
Other 626 Night Market vendors that have gone on to open physical locations include: Jichan’s Onigiri-ya, Milk Tea Company, Takoyaki Tanota, Drunken Cake Pops, Cafe 949, Main Squeeze, Sushi with Attitude, to name a few. Although new vendors are being added constantly, here are five new vendors to keep an eye on at this year’s 626 Night Market.
Move over kombucha, there’s a new fermented drink in town. Kefir drinks are currently all the rage in Asia and Kefir Mix owner Quyna Nguyen is the first to bring the Asian flavored kefir drinks to California. The drinks are popular in Asia for being a healthier alternative to boba drinks. Kefir is a healthy, fermented food with a consistency comparable to yogurt, and research shows it could help boost immunity, aid in digestive problems, and control blood sugar, among many other health benefits.
Cultured and fermented using kefir grains, the drink has been consumed around the world for centuries. As a result of the fermentation, very little lactose remains in kefir. All the kefir is freshly made daily and served with purple rice, mango, strawberry, and even Oreo. Nguyen opened her store in Santa Ana in May 2021, and will be at 626 Night Market this summer.
WezzArepas brings traditional Colombian street food to the 626 Night Market. The stand is a new twist on the classic Columbian dish made using ground maize dough. Arepas are typically served with accompaniments such as cheese, meats, and avocado. While traditional arepas use white corn, WezzArepas uses a yellow, sweet corn cake with a mozzarella cheese center stuffing. There’s also the option of adding jalapeño or pepperoni to the arepas. In addition, the stand serves Columbian-style hot dogs cooked with shredded mozzarella cheese and bacon, then topped with three kinds of sauces: creamy cilantro aioli, pink, and pineapple sauces. Each hot dog is then topped off with potato chip bits for a crunch.
Vegano by Stick Station specializes in quality vegan popsicles designed for those with lactose intolerance and casein protein-related allergies in mind. The creamy popsicles flavors are made with rice milk which in turn produces a creamy tasting flavor using less than half the sugar other popsicles use on the market. Flavors include: cafe choco chip, matcha, rocky road, coconut, mango chili, mojito, and strawberry lemon. This will be Vegano by Stick Station’s first foray into the 626 Night Market. It operates at Hermosa Beach, South Pasadena, Playa Vista, Long Beach, Mar Vista, and Torrance Farmers Markets.
Mason’s Den will be serving up the TikTok-famous mini pancake cereal. The pandemic has led to some interesting cooking trends like sourdough bread, Dalgona Coffee, and feta pasta, but people on TikTok have made a bowl of mini pancakes covered in syrup and milk that you eat with a spoon into a viral sensation. Customers can choose between original and matcha pancake dough before rummaging through the number of potential toppings, including sour gummy worms, Fruity Pebbles, Teddy Grahams, Oreo crumbs, strawberries, blueberries, and maple/caramel/chocolate syrups, among a plethora of other cereal and breakfast toppings. In addition to the viral mini pancakes, Mason’s Den will also serve funnel cakes, corn, and other fried fair food. Owner Jerman Arteaga has already been booked for next year’s Coachella and Stagecoach festivals.
Sandoitchi is a Texas-based Japanese sando restaurant that will travel into 626 Night Market debut this year. Japanese sandos aremade on thick, fluffy milk bread aka shokupan. Sandoitchi, which is Japanese for sandwich, serves versions with egg salad, pork katsu, hot chicken katsu, and fruit with cream. The sandos are known for selling out within minutes in Texas and at all the various pop up locations. Chef Stevie Nguyen gained social media fame with a ridiculous $75 wagyu sando topped with black truffles and gold leaf in the past.
The first 626 Night Market of the year will be July 9 to 11, followed by July 16 to 18, August 27 to 29, and September 3 to 5 with hours from 4 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and until 11 p.m. on Sunday.
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Smoothie Operator: Independent Blender Bringing Healthy Food To The Streets – BayStateBanner

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Hyde Park couple ready to buy historic building
Tanisha Sullivan announces bid for secretary of state
Rollins takes reins at U.S. attorney office
Hyde Park couple ready to buy historic building
Tanisha Sullivan announces bid for secretary of state
Rollins takes reins at U.S. attorney office
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NEW ORLEANS — Good food and music are staples of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Unfortunately, that food usually comes in the form of seafood, gumbo, jambalaya, king cake and beignets — items that make your taste buds happy and your waistline expand.
However, 5th Ward native Domonique “Dinero” Meyers offers a delicious alternative to the city’s famous, but sometimes greasy fare. His Ascent Blends brand of organic smoothies had a modest start on the sidewalks of New Orleans, just a blender and organic fruits.
His efforts at healthy living didn’t go unnoticed — he recently secured a distribution deal with Rouses Markets that will soon see his smoothies and ginger shots on its store shelves. (Rouses started in Houma, Louisiana, more than 40 years ago and is one of the largest independent grocers in the U.S.)
Meyers — who prefers to go by Dinero — understands that health is wealth and hopes his Ascent Blends will create a healthier city. He recently talked with Zenger News about the success of his company, how the Rouses deal came to fruition and much more.
Percy Crawford interviewed Domonique “Dinero” Meyers for Zenger News.
 
Zenger: Tell us about the name of your company and the mission behind it. 
Dinero: It’s Ascent Blends; everything is handcrafted, made fresh daily. We’re your jump-start to becoming healthier. We are community-driven, and we care about your health.
Zenger: From what I understand, you were making smoothies in the hood and that turned into something big. How did it get started?
 
Dinero: Being mindful of my diet over the years, I started this company in July 2016. So, five years ago, I was riding on a pink scooter in my neighborhood, the 5th Ward. And I see a building that used to fix motorbikes and scooters for lease. I said: “This could be a smoothie business right here.”
I reached out, talked to the owner and the numbers were good. But I really wasn’t ready to start a business there. I had never even made a smoothie to sell. The idea just kind of sparked. I worked at a nonprofit, so I asked a few people there what I should do. They said: “Well, if you can’t get the building, just get started by setting up a stand at the barbershop in the neighborhood.” And that’s what I did.
They also told me to get quality ingredients. I wanted to make sure my smoothies are healthy. I wound up using non-dairy agave, which is better than sugar.
I started selling smoothies at the barbershop. They were an instant hit. I was out there 24/7, all over the city. I would have the entire sidewalk lined up with people wanting smoothies, which weren’t available anywhere else. We didn’t have any healthy options there — the 5th Ward is crammed with liquor stores and fried foods.
I was working out every day on the sidewalk, people were joining in with me, and I also started running and doing 5K runs. We are definitely about health education and informing all of our customers, leaving them with literature and inspiration on changing their lifestyle. It’s much more than just a smoothie.
Zenger: Was it hard to get these healthy smoothies to take off in a city not known for having healthy dining options? 
Dinero: it was a bit challenging, but it wasn’t hard. About three or four years ago, things were shifting in the city. You started seeing some healthier options come around. I think that I had a lot to do with people being able to have access to that kind of product. It helps that my smoothies really taste good. I’ve had people looking at my green smoothie like:“Man, that thing probably tastes nasty.” Keep in mind, I’m dealing with the hood, so it was straight like that. It was: “Ugh, I don’t want that green one, give me the pink one.” But then they would taste the green one and find out it’s amazing.
I actually shook the culture from understanding that looks can be deceiving when it comes to things like a healthy smoothie. You have to give things a try.
Zenger: How did the deal with Rouses come about? 
Dinero: One of my homies had a meeting with Rouses about figuring out how to do something together. He brought in a few people who had businesses already, from the farmers to people who cooked to products. He said he wanted to do a vendor market every week or something like that at Rouses. So, I took the meeting. I’m community-based, and there were a lot of things at stake, as far as them righting their wrongs. So, if they were willing to do the undoing, I’m with it.
That was my whole pitch in the meeting. This is not just about me. It’s about creating opportunities for jobs. It was a decision I had to make for myself and others. We are about four or five months in now, and every Saturday, we do the market at Rouses on Tchoupitoulas. And very soon, they will have my fresh-pressed juices and ginger shots on the shelf in their CBD [Central Business District] location.
(Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Fern Siegel)
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What to eat while recovering from Covid – The Week

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What to eat while recovering from Covid  The Week
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