Syed Asad Ali and colleagues of Aga Khan University in Pakistan will perform a clinical trial to test whether traditional fermented pickles (achars) reduce gut inflammation and promote healthy bacterial growth in women of reproductive age from the poor rural Matiari district in Pakistan, to help reduce rates of childhood stunting. Key drivers of childhood stunting are poor maternal health and nutrition, which could be improved by regular ingestion of fermented foods, although this has never been tested in a real-life setting. They will recruit 210 women of reproductive age and provide different types of locally-produced achar for consumption at home one-to-two times per day over a period of eight weeks. They will collect blood and fecal samples at four, eight, and 12 weeks, and test them for nutritional and inflammatory markers, and perform metagenomic analyses of a subgroup of samples to evaluate the composition of their microbiomes.
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