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WKF: Koreans owe to kimchi for fewer deaths from Covid-19: French expert


[Photo by Jung Hyuk-hoon]

[Photo by Jung Hyuk-hoon]

Korea has a low fatality rate of Covid-19 patients because they eat a lot of fermented food represented by kimchi, Professor Jean Bousquet of the University of Montpellier in Paris, said as he joined the World Knowledge Forum session in Seoul to expound on his study on the correlation between fermented vegetable intake and low mortality from the coronavirus. 

During the WKF session (Is the Globalization of Kimchi Possible?) held on Tuesday, the honorary professor of Pulmonary Medicine at Montpellier University explained that “not only fermented cabbage but kimchi ingredients such as pepper powder, ginger, and garlic relieve Covid-19 symptoms.” 

Lactic acid bacteria generated during the fermentation of kimchi interact with Nrf2 (nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2), an antioxidant system in the human body, to remove harmful free radicals that damage human cells and relieve TRPA1 (pain receptor) activation involved in inflammatory responses, according to the professor. TRPA1 is known to cause cough, nasal congestion, diarrhea, and lung damage. 

Some Eastern Europe and Mediterranean countries have relatively lower Covid-19 death rates than other European countries and this is associated with high intakes of fermented vegetables, Bousquet said. This phenomenon was also observed in some rural areas of southern Italy, parts of Africa, and in the slums of Mumbai, India, where people usually eat lots of vegetables. 

“The effect of vegetables was also proven in clinical trials where the intakes of broccoli, chilli, and ginger led to the relief of symptoms such as cough and fatigue in just a few minutes,” he stressed. "Kimchi clearly has an effect in preventing Covid-19,” the professor concluded his presentation hoping to conduct a longer-term clinical trial in the future. 

During the session, Chae-Lin Park, Senior Researcher at World Institute of Kimchi, said that kimchi is fermented food good for health, and it can be globalized faster if its unique taste is well maintained during local distribution with a mild taste for consumers who do not enjoy the spicy flavor too much. 

By Jung Hyuk-hoon and Minu Kim

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