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  • Writer's pictureLarissa Olczak

The Probiotic Bacteria in Kimchi Helps Break Down Pesticides

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

A study examined the effects of the fermentation process of kimchi had on organophosphorus insecticide chlorpyrifos, which is a commonly used pesticides. Organophosphates include a great variety of pesticides, the most common of which is glyphosate. There are many studies linking the exposure to organophosphorus pesticides to serious health effects including cardiovascular diseases, the nervous system, negative effects on the male reproductive system, dementia, negative effects on the microbiome, and also an increased risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Prenatal exposure to organophosphates has been correlated with decreased gestational duration and neurological problems occurring in children.

According to the study,

"During the fermentation of kimchi, 30 mg L−1of chlorpyrifos was added and its stability assayed during fermentation. Chlorpyrifos was degraded rapidly until day 3 (83.3%) and degraded completely by day 9. Four chlorpyrifos-degrading lactic acid bacteria were isolated from kimchi fermentation in the presence of 200 mg L−1chlorpyrifos and were identified asLeuconostoc mesenteroidesWCP907,Lactobacillus brevisWCP902,Lactobacillus plantarumWCP931, andLactobacillus sakeiWCP904. Chlorpyrifos could be utilized by these four strains as the sole source of carbon and phosphorus."

So, the probiotic bacteria, Leuconostoc Mesenteroides, Lactobacillus Brevis, Lactobacillus Plantarum, and Lactobacillus Sake that was present during the fermentation process was able to degrade the pesticide!

You can find these strains of probiotic bacteria in many probiotics, or in kimchi. While this study is focused on kimchi, it opens the door for the possibility of other fermented food to also have this effect.

What is kimchi? Kimchi is a staple in Korea, and is a mixture of fermented cabbage with spices. It's absolutely delicious and I highly recommend trying it!

The best way to avoid these harmful pesticides in our food, is to of course not eat them. Select organic whenever possible, or farms that you trust and you know don't spray. However, even organic products in America have been shown to have traces of pesticides from neighboring farms. It's incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to avoid in America. But- there are many things you can do to assist your body in the detox process.

Many of these pesticides are lipophilic, meaning they resist breaking down in water and accumulate in your fat. They are also known to cross your blood-brain barrier. Once they are stored in your adipose tissue, they can be difficult to eliminate. If you get enough the toxins stored in your body they can enter your cells and cause dysfunction. Chlorpyrifos, the pesticide in this study, can cause cholinesterase inhibition in humans, which means it overstimulates your nervous system leading to potential symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, confusion, muscular tremors, and even difficulty breathing and death.

Eating kimchi is a good way to assist your body in the detox process, as well as a diet filled with chlorophyll. Cilantro is a wonderful plant known to remove heavy metals and toxins, as well as sauna.

Investing in a water filter is also a wonderful idea and to wash your produce before consuming them.

"A 2017 study by Yang and colleagues (swipe) demonstrated that soaking produce in a 10 mg/mL baking soda wash solution for 12-15 minutes completely removed thiabendazole surface residues from apples more effectively than Clorox bleach.⁣

A apple cider vinegar wash solution can also be used for 12-15 minutes. Make sure to give it a final rinse and pat it dry before storing."

Moral of this post?

Eat kimchi, other fermented food, or take a probiotic supplement with the above strains. Try to buy organic whenever possible, and invest in a water filtration system.

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