RSSKimchi changes gut bacteria and has anti-obesity effects

Posted on Mon, 8 Jun 15

Kimchi changes gut bacteria and has anti-obesity effects

The traditional fermented food kimchi has been shown to reduce gut bacteria linked to obesity, while changing the expression of genes related to metabolic syndrome.

It may seem far-fetched, but your gut bacteria are known to play an important role in the development of several important diseases including heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

This idea then begs the question; would changing your gut bacteria help you improve your weight and your health? Well the emerging science does indeed suggest that improving the health of your gut bacteria with prebiotics and probiotics may have some benefit (1). 

Fermented foods were once commonplace but modern refrigeration, preservatives and production methods reduced the need for this older, natural food preservation technique. However, fermented foods are undergoing a renaissance, in part because they are rich in potentially probiotic bacteria with important health effects.

One of the better-known fermented foods; kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables), is particularly popular and is attracting research interest. Previous studies have shown that kimich has a probiotic effect (2), may help with weight loss (3) and could improve cardiovascular health (4).

And an extraordinary new study found that 8-weeks of daily fermented (but not fresh) kimchi consumption resulted in changes gut bacteria including a decrease in gut Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio, which has been shown to be related to weight loss (5). Fermented kimchi also changed the expression level of several genes in blood related to the development of weight gain and heart disease.

‘Taken together, it is conceivable that consumption of fermented kimchi can either directly influence expression of human genes related to metabolic and immunity pathways or indirectly influence human metabolism by altering gut microbial composition” concluded the scientists involved in the study.


  1. Aguirre M, Venema K. The art of targeting gut microbiota for tackling human obesity. Genes Nutr. 2015 Jul;10(4):472.
  2. Lee, K., Choi, E., Ji, G., Effect of kimchi intake on the composition of human large intestinal bacteria. Korean J. Food Sci. Technol. 1996, 28, 981–986.
  3. Kim EK, An SY, Lee MS, Kim TH, Lee HK, Hwang WS, Choe SJ, Kim TY, Han SJ, Kim  HJ, Kim DJ, Lee KW. Fermented kimchi reduces body weight and improves metabolic parameters in overweight and obese patients. Nutr Res. 2011 Jun;31(6):436-43.
  4. Choi IH, Noh JS, Han JS, Kim HJ, Han ES, Song YO. Kimchi, a fermented vegetable, improves serum lipid profiles in healthy young adults: randomized clinical trial. J Med Food. 2013 Mar;16(3):223-9.
  5. Han K, Bose S, Wang JH, Kim BS, Kim MJ, Kim EJ, Kim H. Contrasting effects of  fresh and fermented kimchi consumption on gut microbiota composition and gene expression related to metabolic syndrome in obese Korean women. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015 May;59(5):1004-8.






Tags: Kimchi, Fermented Food, Gut Bacteria, Probiotics

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