During the first week of November, my grandparents started to prepare for gimjang, Kimchi-making, for the upcoming year. My grandfather planted and grew not only cabbages but also pepper, leek, and radish for the gimjang season. Kimchi has been the most famous side dish of every Korean meal since the three-nation era and the technology of salting and fermentation vegetables advanced to become the present-day kimchi. When vegetables such as cabbage are salted, they are usually rubbed with sauce, which is made of chili powder, garlic, ginger, and scallions. Then it is left to ferment- the longer the fermentation process, the better the taste. The standard varieties are made from napa cabbage or large Korean radish, but there are lots of other types, including kimchi made from cucumber, onions, and leafy greens.
Kimchi is known for its anti-cancer effects, and prevention of vascular disease, and anemia. However it is most known for its healthy lactobacillus.
|[Picture of gimjang. Photo credit: Haram Yoon]|
|[Picture of me helping my grandfather at his cabbage farm. Photo credit: Haram Yoon]|
A week ago, I met Dr. Yoon of Seoul Yoon Dental Clinic for my dental appointments. When I inquired how I can change my bad habits that cause cavities, he said the mouth is a place with the most germs in our body, so he told me to take probiotics every day. As I wanted to learn more about the effects of probiotics and lactobacillus, I decided to interview Dr. Yoon, Heejoon.
|[Picture of me interviewing Dr. Yoon of Seoul Yoon dental clinic through Zoom. Photo credit: Haram Yoon]|
When asked about why eating probiotics is important, Dr. Yoon said maintaining the balance of the bacteria in our mouth is essential. As the mouth is the place where the most germs inhabit, not only are beneficial bacteria that are good for our body, but there are also harmful bacteria that are damaging to our body. If the beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria are well-balanced, we can live healthily. Bad eating habits, lifestyle habits, and other factors break the equilibrium of bacteria in your mouth and increase the number of harmful bacteria, resulting in decreased immunity, inflammation, and various diseases. The cause of all dental diseases such as cavities and gum disease are the germs in the mouth.
For probiotics, he mentioned eating kimchi. He recommends consuming kimchi not only for lactobacillus, but also for the fiber contained in cabbage and radish, the basic ingredients of kimchi, which cleans food scraps and germs on the surface of the teeth, and massages the gums. Also, the unique sourness of kimchi has the effect of diluting sugar in the mouth by activating saliva. This lowers the sugar level in the mouth, and helps prevent cavities. These spicy, sour, and salty flavors of kimchi promote the secretion of saliva and make you drink water to rinse your mouth after eating food, which helps your teeth stay healthy.
|[Picture of me interviewing a graduate student of food biotechnology Hayoung Jung. Photo credit: Haram Yoon]|
To ask about how to intake lactobacillus through the food in daily life, I interviewed a graduate student of food biotechnology Hayoung Jung. When asked about what food contains a lot of lactobacilli, she answered that the foods that we can easily approach are kimchi, milk, yogurt, cheese, and soybean paste. Additionally, she suggests eating kimchi a week after it is made. Usually, people think that kimchi that has been fermented for a long time will have the most lactobacillus; however, lactobacillus increases by between 2 and 7 degrees in about a month and decreases rapidly after that, so the most lactobacillus-rich period is between a week to a month after making kimchi.
There are more than 100 trillion bacteria in our body. Many of the bacteria are symbiotic and co-exist in balance with humans while maintaining species diversity. However, due to the unhealthy habits and aging of modern people, the balance of bacteria in the body is collapsing. Breaking the balance of bacteria in the body results in reduced immunity due to increased harmful bacteria, which can easily lead to inflammation or disease. Therefore, we need to reduce harmful bacteria in the digestive tract, including the oral cavity, and increase the beneficial bacteria to balance the bacteria. Taking medicine when you are sick is not the most optimal solution, as it kills both harmful and beneficial bacteria. Let us not rely only on medicine alone, but on lactobacillus that increases beneficial bacteria to make a healthy and well-balanced body.
11th grade- junior
Holy Trinity Catholic High School (TX)
Haram Yoon firstname.lastname@example.org
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