Can fermented foods really help with gut health? Denise Gabrielson

ermented foods are a good source of probiot- ics and are purported to have numerous ben- eficial effects on human health, including pre- vention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, improved symptom management of inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel and enhanced immune function. Diet and lifestyle factors can affect our gut microbiota or the community of the bacteria within the gut.


Dysbiosis, or an imbalance of beneficial bacteria versus harmful bacteria, can result in health prob- lems such as allergies, irritable bowel and ulcers. H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori), is a common gut bac- terium that can have harmful effects such as inflam- mation of the stomach lining and an increased risk for stomach cancer. It is estimated that 30 per cent of Canadians are infected with H. pylori and worldwide the rate is 50 per cent. This bug is a major cause of gastritis and peptic ulcer disease, but in rare cases, it can cause stomach cancer. Stomach cancer is the third deadliest cancer in the world. There is some interest in a potential beneficial role

of fermented foods in having anti- H. pylori effects. At the same time, some fermented foods, particu-

At centre is oncology dietician surrounded by my gut feel- ing founders Teresa Tiano on left and Ekaterina Kosy- achkova on right. Photo taken by Ramin Deravian.

larly salt-preserved foods, have been associated with an increased risk for stomach cancer. A high-salt in- take can enhance colonization of H. pylori through damage to the stomach lining. Additionally, fermen- tation, regardless of salt, can lead to formation of N-nitroso compounds which may contribute to an increased cancer risk. The relationship between gut bacteria and cancer is

just beginning to take shape in scientific research and it is too early to know whether various dietary sourc- es of probiotics have an influence on factors affect- ing stomach cancer risk. Based on current evidence for stomach cancer prevention, people should aim for adequate intakes of fruit which have compounds that can protect against H. pylori-induced damage and inflammation; avoid processed meat which can lead to formation of N-nitroso compounds and provide a supportive environment for H. pylori; and limit intake of salt-preserved vegetables and foods. To maximize potential health benefits of ferment-

ed foods as a source of probiotics and minimize risk, choose lower salt sources of fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt and tempeh, more often than salt- preserved sources. To learn more about your gut health, visit mygut- It’s a volunteer-run, Canadian non-profit organization, founded by two stomach cancer survi- vors, to provide support to patients, survivors and caregivers affected by stomach cancer. Denise Gabrielson is a Registered Dietitian, Oncology/ Hematology at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. This piece was written for My Gut Feeling, a program of the Stomach Cancer Foundation of Canada, founded by two survivors, and the first non-profit, volunteer-run organi- zation dedicated to stomach cancer.

u What to expect on that first trip to the local cannabis shop Continued from page 1

from another province, North American or South American country or even from overseas. While that trade still exists, it remains to be seen how legalization in Canada will ultimately affect those producers and suppliers. One of the goals of legalization is to put that illegal trade out of business. That may take some time as it appears that there is more demand than supply in the fledgling legal cannabis sector.

When you do visit one of the new stores to

learn a little more about cannabis and perhaps make a purchase, you will be greeted at the door by a staff member to ensure you are of the legal age set out by the province to be in the store in the first place. Here in Manitoba that age is 19. You should also be aware that under no circum- stances will any underage children be allowed to accompany you inside so do keep that in mind, as many a parent have found this out thinking a visit to a cannabis store would be like visiting the liquor store.

Once inside, you will find the visit somewhat

like going to a jewellery store, where all their wares are displayed in glass cases. There are sample jars that a staff member will hold and let you sniff the product, but unlike liquor stores, there is no sampling allowed, a sniff is as good as it gets. Now comes the harder part in trying to decide what to buy. The first thing to consider is whether or not you are looking for the euphoria as- sociated with cannabis or whether you are looking for non-euphoric cannabis to try and help remedy one of a number of ailments that CBD, a constituent in the plant, is reported to help. Should it be the latter you are after, consulting your doctor, a cannabis clinic or a knowledgeable staff member will help guide you in your choices.

You will find many different strains of cannabis avail-

able, labelled by type, strength of THC or CBD, the euphoric or medical constituents of the product along with the name of the licensed grower. Somewhat simi- lar to choices in a liquor store there are different fla- vours, strengths of the product, visual differences and quantity amounts. The staff servicing you will help you through the process which may take some time. There are a few things to keep in mind if you are new to all of this, or even if you aren’t. The products available today are very refined compared to what was available in the days of Woodstock. The quality is very good and the effects can be strongly felt if you sit down and smoke an entire cannabis cigarette, or joint as they are referred

to. What you should do is take a single puff and wait 15 minutes or so to see how you feel before going on to the next puff. As with drinking al- cohol, the effects can creep up on you so mod- eration and experimentation are really the only way you will be able to ascertain what level of consumption is best for you. No two consumers are alike, our bodies all are affected differently by what we imbibe, and with the wide variety of choices in the product, each one will also affect us differently.

Inside the store, you will be find it somewhat like visiting a jewelry store, with the various strains being displayed in glass cases. Photo provided by Delta 9.

One also has the choice of either smoking cannabis like a cigarette or using a vape pipe or machine. In the case of vaping, the cannabis is not actually burnt but heated electrically to the point where the ingredients that provide the eu- phoria are released from the plant. If you are a non-smoker you may find this method prefer- able. There are also oils and soon to be edibles as a further choice to consider, but with all of these options it is best to consult with either your doc-

tor or one of the cannabis clinics whose staff are well educated on these topics. One last note is that as this is a new industry and sup- ply is still a concern when it comes to meeting the de- mand that the market is showing, every day the strains available in the retail stores you visit will be changing, so there will always be something new to look at or try. Cannabis retail staff are very informative and will advise you how to store your purchase legally when travelling back home. They are there to assist with your shop- ping, but also to answer any questions you may have so do ask. As for many of us who are interested, there is a learning curve to get through in becoming knowledge- able about this new product now available in Canada.

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