Fermented meat & probiotics

From Slate: “Sausage made with bacteria from baby poop isn’t as gross as it sounds.” 

and my favorite: “Pooperoni? Baby-poop bacteria help make healthy sausages.

Much ado about: Nutritionally enhanced fermented sausages as a vehicle for potential probiotic lactobacilli delivery (Rubio et al., 2014)

The media seems to have missed the ball, but not by far.  They focused on healthy microbes being incorporated into fermented meats, whereas the scientists seemed to want to make a “healthier” low-salt, low-fat sausage.

The low-salt part seems to partially make sense from a fermentation-perspective: using probiotics instead of salt to reduce the potential for pathogenic microbial contamination.  However, I doubt reducing the sodium by 25% will have any appreciable impact on health outcomes.  The effect of adding beneficial microbes, on the other hand, might.

They also mentioned making it lower in fat, but that doesn’t make as much sense; I don’t think there’s a big contamination risk of having a higher fat content.  #lipophobia

salami 1

Similar to dark chocolate, resistant starch, and red wine, “nutritionally enhanced fermented meats” could theoretically exert a positive impact on the gut microflora.

Sure enough, from the recent study on animal vs. plant-based diets, some of the native microbes present in fermented meats (prosciutto and salami) were recovered in fecal samples:animal-based diet

From the initial Rubio study, in addition to the 3 microbes present in baby poop (L. casei/paracasei CTC1677 & CTC1678, and L. rhamnosus CTC1679), they also tested three commercially available strains:microbes

In brief, it worked.  The “nutritionally enhanced fermented sausages” tasted just as good despite having less salt and fat.  And it’s really not all that gross because there’s no actual baby poop involved.  Or any poop.

From wikipedia ~

Salami is made out of a variety of meats; pork, beef, turkey, etc.  The meat is ground and allowed to ferment for a brief period of time, then is cured, or literally hung out to dry for a long time.  So it’s amazing that the microbes survive not only the manufacturing process, but all the way down through the GI tract.  This alone suggests fermented meat is a good delivery vehicle or at least might possess some favorable prebiotic-like properties.

Indeed, Klingberg and Budde gave a probiotic (L. plantarum MF1298) to 17 volunteers as freeze-dried cultures and were able to detect it in fecal samples from 4 of the volunteers; when the same probiotic was administered in a sausage that was fermented with it, that number increased to 10/17 (2006).   That’s not one of the microbes I would’ve chosen, but whatever.


salami 2

Bifidobacteria weren’t tested by Rubio’s group.  An earlier study suggested Bifido might not tolerate the high salt concentrations (4%) used in traditional Iberian dry fermented sausage making (Ruiz-Moyano et al., 2008).  However, with Rubio’s lower salt method, it might be worth a try.

Also, sugar or skimmed milk powder is added to promote fermentation in some recipes.  I wonder if resistant starch or galactooligosaccharides are viable options, as they’re both remarkably bifidogenic…

Interestingly, another study tested Bifidobacteria longum and showed they did actually survive the whole sausage-making process and this could be enhanced if they were microencapsulated (Muthukumarasamy and Holley, 2007)… the caveat: microencapsulation improves Bifido survival, but attenuates their ability to kill potentially pathogenic microbes.  Still seems like an interesting idea, as Bifido still reduced E. coli numbers, just not as much as with the unencapsulated stuff.

Bifido-fermented meats aren’t available yet, but in the meantime, I’ll have some salami (with its native microbes) with a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate… you know, for a healthy gut microbiome.

salami chart

calories proper

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  • http://ashsimmonds.com/ Ash Simmonds

    Eventually science will figger out that red wine and dark chocolate are the only fate of plants that are good for humans.

  • Wenchypoo

    Question: so should we be looking for air-cured salami, or what? Exactly what is this meat called (for future shopping trips)? We already eat air-cured pepperoni, Genoa salami, and soppressata from Applegate Farms–is that good enough?

    • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ William Lagakos

      I don’t think any of the “nutritionally-enhanced fermented meats” are commercially available… otherwise, it would likely be advertised on the website/packaging.

  • http://cristivlad.com Chris

    I was just about to remove the dark chocolate from daily consumption.
    Come to think of it, I’ll just reduce the dose a bit. Either way,
    reducing carbs is a general promoter of healthier gut…Doing it this
    way is even better

    • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ William Lagakos

      remove!? jk.

  • Jack Kruse

    You said, ” The low-salt part seems to partially make sense from a fermentation-perspective: using probiotics instead of salt to reduce the potential for pathogenic microbial contamination. However, I doubt reducing the sodium by 25% will have any appreciable impact on health outcomes.” Gerald Pollack might disagree with you. Salts have a devastating effect on ECW and ICW. This limited proton flows and causes excessive ROS or RNS at the hydration shell around these organelles. Read his book and make the tie in…….

    • Jack Kruse

      and for the record…….I am a huge fermented meat eater but I also have a good redox potential. My comment above is designed for those who do not……which is a lot of the world. Water = redox potential when you get right down to it. it correlates with GSH, NADPH, ATP levels and the TAN ratio’s in mitochondria. It also marries to adenosine signaling for RNS and the easy egress into sleep cycles.

      • http://cristivlad.com Chris

        so salt intake should be decent Jack?

        • Jack Kruse

          100% depends upon the redox potential of your tissues. I talk about that in my Redox Rx blog. It specifically mentions ANF, aldosterone, ADH etc………

    • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ William Lagakos

      Thanks, Jack. Pollack is next on the docket when I finish with Devra Davis’ book.

  • libfree

    I’m not sure what to make of the plantarum study that you linked to, but I suggest going over to Mr. Heisenbug’s blog and look around for a bit. http://mrheisenbug.wordpress.com/

    He makes the logical case for Plantarum and you can read all of the anecdotal accounts of the people that have tried it themselves. I’m taking v299 plantarum supplement for about 6 weeks. I’ve had dry skin on my feet disappear, discoloration on my hands and elbows disappear, and my lungs have cleared up from the constant congestion. I’m off alegra-d that I’ve been on for the last 13 years. I don’t have any worse digestion as a result of it.

    Plantarum is practically everywhere. The closer you live to the ground the more you will digest it. Humans have slowly removed themselves from it as we started eating in clean environments, washed before every meal and stopped playing in the dirt. Plantarum is extremely hardy and seems to use us a transport. You eat it and then deposit it over the next few days in different locations. It isn’t an antagonist to your resident “good” bacteria but is extremely aggressive against the ones we don’t like so much. I wouldn’t dismiss it so quickly.

    • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ William Lagakos

      thanks for the link, that was a great read!

      Perhaps my statement should’ve been restricted to IBS patients as I’m sure L. plantarum has other important effects.

      It’s rare to see IBS symptoms actually worsened by a probiotic, which is why the Ligaarden study stuck in my head.

      …but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more studies about L. plantarum; seems like one of the more interesting ones.

  • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ Bill Lagakos

    Mmmm… “new mold species discovered on salami”

    • Thomas Hemming Larsen

      You were ahead of your time! :)

      • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ Bill Lagakos

        hehe thanks.