Good bacteria in fermented foods can boost our immune system instantly and offer a wide range of health-promoting benefits. But, a new study is digging deeper to find out why are fermented foods so healthy.
A team of researchers has discovered that humans and great apes possess a receptor on their cells that detects metabolites from bacteria commonly found in fermented foods and triggers movement of immune cells. Claudia Stäubert of the University of Leipzig and colleagues report these findings in a new study published in PLOS Genetics.
Consuming lactic acid bacteria - the kind that turn milk into yogurt and cabbage into sauerkraut - can offer many health benefits, but scientists still don't understand, on a molecular level, why it is helpful to ingest these bacteria and how that affects our immune system. Now, Stäubert and her colleagues have found one way that lactic acid bacteria interact with our bodies.
The study yields new insights into the evolutionary dynamics between microbes and their human hosts and opens new research directions for understanding the multiple positive effects of eating fermented foods. "We are convinced that this receptor very likely mediates some beneficial and anti-inflammatory effects of lactic acid bacteria in humans," stated author Claudia Stäubert. "That is why we believe it could serve as a potential drug target to treat inflammatory diseases."
Future studies may reveal the details of how D-phenyllactic acid impacts the immune system, and whether the metabolite also affects fat cells, which also carry the third HCA receptor on their surfaces.