Are fermented foods really that good for you?
Gut health is something that so many people are struggling to achieve; the number of gastric related medical issues has sky-rocketed in recent years. Learning how to balance your bacteria within the gut is an essential way to achieve a healthy digestive system. The consumption of traditional fermented foods can assist in achieving that balance by creating an environment which is conducive to the growth of healthy bacteria.
There are different types of bacteria in the system, beneficial or disease-causing, obviously we need to encourage the beneficial bacteria and one of the most effective ways of doing this is to eat fermented foods which are rich in lactic-acid producing bacteria.
Fermented foods or Probiotics?
These are practically the same thing; essential lactic-acid producing bacteria are apparent in probiotic supplements, and so we also give fermented foods the label ‘probiotic foods’ as they induce the same bacteria.
What are the benefits of fermented foods?
- They improve nutrient absorption: having the proper balance of gut bacteria and a good level of digestive enzymes helps you absorb more of the nutrients in the foods you eat. With this and a healthy diet combined you will absorb many more live nutrients from the foods you eat.
- They produce Acetylcholine: a neurological digestive assistant, Acetylcholine facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses which help with bowel movement plus improves the release of digestive juices and enzymes from the stomach, the pancreas, and the gallbladder. By eating fermented foods and producing acetylcholine you can really improve digestion.
- They prevent illnesses: Newsflash; probiotics work better than antibiotics! Traditional fermented foods produce numerous unknown compounds that destroy and inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
In the early 1950s it was recorded that fresh sauerkraut was used as a effective bacteria killing agent during an epidemic of typhoid fever in Europe. These lactic-acid bacteria can help to eliminate viruses which prove to be more resistant to antibiotics.
The concept of using naturally occurring bacteria to eliminate harmful bacteria is very achievable in every day life; conventional doctors do not as yet prescribe such methods as the pharmaceutical companies would not condone offering cabbage as opposed to an antibiotic!
- They balance stomach acid: just eating a small portion of sauerkraut, kimchi or buttermilk, or pickled vegetables a couple of times per day with your regular meal can ease digestive discomfort related to having either too much or too little stomach acid. Eating fermented foods can help to increase your gastric acidity when levels are low but they also protect the lining of the stomach and intestine if the acidity levels happen to be too high. Probiotics have also been shown to help slow or reverse some diseases, improve bowel health, aid digestion, and improve immunity.
Our Top 5 selection of essential fermented foods:
- Kimchi – A Korean classic side dish served with most meals. It’s a spicy fermented cabbage which is tasty, has a kick and provides all the probiotic benefits.
- Kefir – A fermented milk drink made with ‘kefir’ grains – a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter. Plenty of healthy bacteria in a serving.
- Kombucha – Kind of fermented, slightly fizzy and sweet tea drink full of all the qualities to keep your gut in good shape.
- Sourdough Bread – Bread made by the fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli (lactic acid producer) and yeast. Its ingredients assist in reducing phytic acid in the system, aiding digestion, allowing more nutrient absorption and preventing bloating.
- Sauerkraut – Sauerkraut fermentation creates conditions to promote beneficial probiotics. Finely shredded with layers of salt, this fermented cabbage classic has been used for its medicinal qualities for decades.
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