The efficacy of fermented foods in the treatment and management of diarrhoeal diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Adetokunbo Olayanju, Duane Mellor, Yunus Khatri, Neil Pickles

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Diarrhoeal disease is a major cause of global infant mortality, and compromises the ability of many countries with respect to achieving sustainable development goals. The WHO's recommendation of Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) and zinc in the management of this disease, may not be readily available. Consideration and assessment of cultural practices in its management has been an area of increased interest over the last decade. Aim: This study aims to systematically evaluate efficacy of the consumption of traditional fermented foods as functional products for the treatment and management of diarrhoea. Methods: Following PRISMA guidelines, a systematic review was conducted of electronic databases (Cochrane Library, Ovid Medline and Pubmed) databases with no restrictions on language and publication date for RCTs that investigated the effect of consumption of fermented foods on the treatment of diarrhoea in children under five years of age. Results: Seven RCTs were included. Meta-analysis showed that compared to control, consumption of fermented foods significantly reduced mean duration of diarrhoea, -0.61 days; (95% CI, -1.04, -0.18); length of hospitalization, -0.35 days (95% CI, -0.69, -0.02); but not mean daily frequency of stool -2.00 (95% CI,-7.03, 3.04). Conclusion: Limited available evidence suggests that consumption of fermented foods may help reduce duration and severity of symptoms as a treatment of diarrhoea. More high quality research needs to be undertaken to investigate the efficacy of fermented food as an effective alternative to ORS as a potential WHO recommendation for management of diarrhoeal disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNutrition and Health
Early online date28 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Apr 2022

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