Is Miso Good For Gut Health
A balance of salty, earthy, and umami flavor was so good that it quickly started being used as an ingredient in its own right. Initially, only the elite had access to it, but now it’s widely available and easy to find.
Yes, it is miso, and if you have consumed it as miso soup only, it may be time to reconsider and add miso to your meals. Why? Let’s learn more about this uniquely nutritious food.
What Is Miso Made Out Of
The word miso translates to ‘fermented beans’ in Japanese and has been used in their cooking for thousands of years and forms the base of the miso soup. The paste, similar to peanut butter in texture, is a cultured mixture of soybeans, a grain (like rice or barley), salt and koji. Koji is a type of fungus called ‘Aspergillus oryzae.’
Depending on the variety, miso can be smooth or chunky and is fermented anywhere from a few weeks to several years. As it is fermented, it is full of probiotics. What good is that? Let’s find out.
Probiotics In Miso
Many fermented foods contain probiotics, beneficial microorganisms that can help grow beneficial microbes while reducing harmful microbes. 1https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28945458/
Related Article: Probiotics For Gut Health | 9 Probiotics-Rich Foods
Miso is also a fermented product containing the probiotic Aspergillus oryzae, which can reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel disease and improve digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients in humans with a wide range of health issues. 2https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/miso, 3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9731531/
According to research, consuming miso soup lowers the risk of developing stomach illnesses such as gastritis, gastric, and duodenal ulcers more than those who consume it infrequently or never. 4https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30381627/
When the gut microbiota balance is upset with unhealthy levels of certain bacteria, probiotics can help restore the balance in the body. Apart from food, one can take it as a supplement. Now the question arises, how often should you take a probiotic?
How Often Should You Take A Probiotic
Many types of bacteria are classified as probiotics. Dietary sources can be a good source of probiotics. Yogurt is the most well-known source, but there are also other dairy foods like buttermilk, fermented milk and kefir, soy drinks and products like miso and tempeh and fermented plant-based foods kimchi, sauerkraut and many types of pickles.
If you choose yogurt or another dairy food, look on the label for the phrase “contains live active cultures” or “contains probiotics,” not all yogurts have them.
Another source is supplements. One can buy them at grocery stores, drug stores or online as tablets, capsules, powders or liquids. Please note that the FDA regulates these products but treats them like foods, not medications.
Probiotics are measured in colony-forming units (CFU), which indicate the number of viable cells. Although both foods and supplements have been efficient carriers for the beneficial bacteria to promote better health, we should prefer probiotic foods to probiotic supplements. 5https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25117939/
There’s constant research on how often to take it as a supplement. According to the WGO:
The optimal dose of probiotics depends on the strain and product.
But if your doctor recommends probiotics, please follow their instructions.
Why Is Miso Good For You
Miso is a great way to add earthy and savory flavor to your food, along with a dose of probiotics. The paste is low in calories but has high amounts of protein, fiber, manganese and vitamin K. It also contains other essential micronutrients, including copper, zinc, riboflavin and phosphorus.
One ounce of miso paste contains approximately: 6https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4379/2
Dietary Fiber: 1.5g
In addition, since miso is made from soybeans, like other soy foods, it is high in isoflavones, food compounds that some research has linked to better gut and reduced risk of many health issues like:
May Reduce Risk Of Certain Cancer
Due to its isoflavone content, miso may protect against certain types of cancer, especially in post-menopausal women. Miso is a rich source of antioxidants, further supporting its protective role in this area. 7https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12813174/, 8https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1333523/, 9https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10879475/ A study by Hiroshima University found that miso may be beneficial in preventing radiation injury, cancer and hypertension. 10https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3695331/
May Enhance Immunity
Miso, a rich source of probiotic bacteria, may support a better immune function and help fight infections. Regularly consuming fermented foods like miso, kefir, etc., may minimize the need for antibiotic therapy while fighting infection. 11https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25430686/ Apart from the above, it may help in better heart health, reducing cholesterol levels and type-2 diabetes and promoting brain health. 12https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289887634_The_effects_of_the_miso_soup_containing_soy_protein_hydrolyzate_with_bound_phospholipids_on_serum_cholesterol_levels, 13https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20116654/, 14https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3039134/, 15https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5216880/
It’s also about improving the nutritional content of your meals. Miso is a double win because it’s fermented and soy-based, both recommended by nutritionists. But there can be a concern for people with medical problems, so let’s look at the side effects of miso.
Side Effects Of Miso
-Miso is safe for people who do not have to follow a low-salt (sodium) diet, as miso has high sodium levels.
-People suffering from soy allergy should avoid miso. 16https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15113974/
-Soybeans are considered to be goitrogenic. If you have thyroid issues, try to minimize your soy intake. 17https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7282437/
-It is still best to consult your physician before significantly changing what and how much you eat.
The bottom line is that miso is becoming very popular in Western cuisine and is used in marinades, dressings, dips and even in sweets. Miso also benefits our gut and has several health benefits, including anti-oxidative properties, improved digestion, and a more robust immune system. People have been enjoying miso for over a thousand years for a reason, don’t miss out!
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