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Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2016 Dec;21(4):297-309. doi: 10.3746/pnf.2016.21.4.297. Epub 2016 Dec 31.

A Review of Fermented Foods with Beneficial Effects on Brain and Cognitive Function.

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Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience, College of Natural Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea; Ewha Brain Institute, Ewha Womans University, Seoul 03760, Korea.
Ewha Brain Institute, Ewha Womans University, Seoul 03760, Korea; Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Ewha Womans University, Seoul 03760, Korea.
Department of Psychiatry, Soon Chun Hyang University Hospital, Seoul 04401, Korea.


Around the world, fermentation of foods has been adopted over many generations, primarily due to their commercial significance with enriched flavors and high-profile nutrients. The increasing application of fermented foods is further promoted by recent evidence on their health benefits, beyond the traditionally recognized effects on the digestive system. With recent advances in the understanding of gut-brain interactions, there have also been reports suggesting the fermented food's efficacy, particularly for cognitive function improvements. These results are strengthened by the proposed biological effects of fermented foods, including neuroprotection against neurotoxicity and reactive oxygen species. This paper reviews the beneficial health effects of fermented foods with particular emphasis on cognitive enhancement and neuroprotective effects. With an extensive review of fermented foods and their potential cognitive benefits, this paper may promote commercially feasible applications of fermented foods as natural remedies to cognitive problems.


cognition; fermentation; functional food; gut-brain axis; neuroprotection

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