免疫機能を高める食事は「発酵食品」がカギ!和食を見直すきっかけにも

新型ウィルスの流行が確認されはじめた頃に起きた、「納豆買占め」騒動。

「ウィルスと戦うには免疫力を上げる納豆がいい!」という情報が流れ、賛同した人たちがこぞって買い求めた結果、一時的にスーパーの納豆棚から商品が消えたことは記憶に新しいと思います。

普段あまり食事と健康を繋げて考えない人でも、どこかで「納豆は免疫機能を上げる」ということを日本人のDNA的に理解していたからこそ起きた事態ではないでしょうか。

さて、今回は免疫力を高める「食事」からのアプローチとして、私たちにとって身近な「発酵食品」についてご紹介したいと思います。

発酵食品の基礎知識

発酵食品

新型ウィルスの蔓延で、いかに感染しないかにフォーカスして予防策に励む人も多いですが、実は同じくらい今注目されているのが身体を守る力「免疫機能」。

つまり自分自身の免疫力を高めておけば、コロナであろうとインフルエンザであろうと必要以上に恐れる必要はなくなる、と考える人が増えてきているようなのです。

そんな「免疫機能」を高めてくれる心強い味方、発酵食品とは…⁉

そもそも発酵って?

発酵とは微生物(菌)の力によって引き起こされる、食材などを全く異なる成分や風味に変えてしまう現象のこと。

菌の種類には、主にヨーグルトや漬物を作る「乳酸菌」、日本の伝統的な発酵食品作りに欠かせない国菌でもある「麹菌」、パンやアルコールに使われる「酵母菌」、ほかにも「酪酸菌」「酢酸菌」などがあります。

発酵食品が免疫力を高めてくれるのは、こうした「生きた菌」の働きがカギになっているのです。
 

発酵食品の五大効果

一般社団法人 日本発酵文化協会」が挙げている発酵食品の効果には、下記のようなものがあります。

  • 1.保存性の向上
  • 2.栄養価の向上
  • 3.美味しさの向上
  • 4.吸収率の向上
  • 5.腸内環境の改善

4と5が、特に免疫機能や健康の向上に関わってきそうですね。

一言メモ:発酵食品のはじまりはアルコール?
発酵食品のはじまりは「アルコール」が有力だとか。「Fermentation(発酵)」のもとになっている「沸き立つ」という意味の通り、アルコール発酵の際に炭酸ガスが泡のように立つ様子から名付けられたそうです。
実際に、南コーカサス地方のジョジアで土器の破片から見つかった紀元前6000~5800年のものと推定されるワインの痕跡や、8000年前にはメソポタミアの先住民の遺跡で発見された土器からもその痕跡が残っています。

 

なぜ発酵食品は免疫機能を高めるのか

免疫力が高い女性

(1)腸内環境を整えてくれる

発酵食品が免疫機能を高めるのに良いとされているのは、免疫機能と腸に深い関りがあるから。
発酵食品に多く含まれる乳酸菌やビフィズス菌などのプロバイオティクスは、善玉菌の働きで腐敗物質の増加を抑えてくれる働きがあり、腸内環境を整えてくれます。

腸に免疫細胞が集まっている

最近では腸内環境が身体や心に大きく影響することは明らかになりつつあります。というのも実は、腸の壁の内側に体内の免疫細胞の約7割が集まっているのが大きな理由です。

日々の食事から摂取できる

最近ではプロバイオティクス(※)のサプリも多く出回っていますが、それを日々の食事から摂取できる発酵食品はやっぱり、私たちの健康の力強い味方なのです。

※乳酸菌やビフィズス菌など、身体に有益に働く細菌の総称

(2)効果的に栄養を体内に取り入れられる

発酵食品は微生物の働きによってたんぱく質やでんぷんなどが分解され、栄養素として消化・吸収されやすくなります。
効果的に栄養を体内に取り入れられるなんて、嬉しいこと尽くしですね。

(3)発酵食品は美容にも効果的

発酵食品に期待される効果は免疫力を高めてくれるだけではありません。

腸内の善玉菌が増えることで代謝が高まり、腸内環境を整えることからも、便秘改善やダイエット、アンチエイジングなどにも効果的だそうです。

日本と世界で食べられる発酵食品

日本と世界で食べられる発酵食品

和食は発酵食の宝庫!

日本の食事は納豆をはじめ、味噌醤油みりんなど和食に使う身近な調味料の多くが発酵食品です。これほど発酵食品が日常的に食べられている国は、世界広しといえども珍しいですね。

ほかにも朝食の定番、納豆や漬物も発酵食品です。

お酒と一緒にたしなんでみては?

伝統食の中にも、それぞれの地方に伝わる味があります。

例えば塩と米飯で発酵させた「なれずし」、日本中で愛される白ご飯のおとも「漬物」、魚介類の身や内臓を塩漬けした「塩辛」など。
独特の風味や濃い塩味を持つものが多く、ぜひこちらも発酵食品であるお酒と一緒に嗜んでみてはいかがでしょう。

世界の発酵食品リスト

世界で食べられている発酵食品も探してみました。

日本でもよく食べられているものから、初めて名前を知ったというものもあるかもしれません。

  • シュールストレミング(スウェーデン)
  • ザワークラウト(ドイツ)
  • ウスターソース/マーマイト/ピクルス(イギリス)
  • アンチョビ(イタリア)
  • ヨーグルト(ブルガリア)
  • ミッシュブロート(ドイツ)
  • キムチ/コチュジャン/マッコリ(韓国)
  • ナンプ(タイ)
  • 豆板醤/甜麺醤/ザーサイ(中国)
  • テンペ(インドネシア)

ちなみにシュールストレミングは塩漬けしたニシンの缶詰で、その強烈な匂いから「世界一臭い食べ物」と呼ばれるほど。日本の納豆のような位置付けに少し近いのかもしれませんね。

ほかにもワインやビール、ブランデーなど豊富なアルコール類やチーズも、世界中に広まっている発酵食品です。

まとめ

世界の発酵食品

今回紹介した「免疫機能を高める」ことに効果的な発酵食品。

身体にいいのはもちろんですが、独特の風味や深い味わいも大きな魅力ですよね。

続けることでよりその効果が定着していくとのこと。和食中心の食生活を選ぶだけで簡単に取り入れられるので、この機会にぜひ「発酵食ライフ」をはじめてみてはいかがでしょうか。

 

文:mia 構成:mia  編集:さくみ

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