The lowdown on fermented foods
There’s no denying that considering one’s gut health is highly important when it comes to healthy eating. Many everyday day foods are good for gut health. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish and extra virgin olive. However, there is another category of foods that can promote gut health: fermented foods.
Humans have enjoyed fermented foods—from wine, beer, and vinegar to pickles, olives, yoghurt, and cheese—for millennia. Before using fridges, people used fermenting to preserve foods. But can fermented foods make your gut healthier? The short answer is yes. In this blog, I will break down the evidence to support this theory.
What are fermented foods?
Fermented foods go through a process called “Lacto fermentation”, where natural bacteria feeds on the starches and sugars in the food to create lactic acid.
For vegetables, they soak in their own juice or saltwater, allowing bacteria to grow. This bacteria eats the sugar in the vegetables, creating lactic acid. The end result is a fermented product that has a tart and slightly acidic taste. The fermentation process preserves the food and its nutrients. It also creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.
Types of fermented foods
Kimchi is a popular dish in Korea, which is essentially fermented cabbage. Some people also make kimchi from other vegetables, such as radishes.
Tempeh is made from fermenting soybeans. The soybeans are then pressed into a compact cake. It is a high-protein meat substitute that is firm, but chewy. You can bake it, steam or sauté it before adding it to dishes.
Natto is a staple probiotic in traditional Japanese cuisine. Like tempeh, it uses fermented soybeans. It has a very strong flavour and slippery texture.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that’s tart, fizzy, and flavourful. It contains either black or green tea and contains potent health-promoting properties.
Miso is a common seasoning used in Japanese cuisine. It is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji, a type of fungus.
Sauerkraut is a popular condiment that consists of shredded cabbage fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It’s low in calories and contains plenty of vitamin C, vitamin K and fibre, and vitamin K.
Probiotic yoghurt is made by fermenting milk with lactic acid bacteria. It’s high in many important nutrients, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamin B12.
Kefir is a milk drink that you make with yeast fermentation and bacteria. Also, the beverage is tangy and thick and tastes like yoghurt.
The Benefits of fermented foods
Fermented foods contain probiotics for better gut health
Fermented foods can improve gut health due to the beneficial bacteria they contain. Kefir and Kombucha, in particular, helps balance out the good and bad bacteria in your digestive system and can aid digestion.
Boosts Your Immune System
The bacteria found in your gut have a significant impact on your immune system. Due to their high probiotic content, fermented foods can boost your immune system and reduce your risk of infections like the common cold.
Absorbs food better
The improved balance of gut bacteria and digestive enzymes ensure you’re absorbing as many nutrients as possible. Eating a varied diet and absorbing key nutrients properly will be a great boost for your overall gut health.
Preserves food easily
As hard as we might try, we all end up finding some rotten vegetables in our fridge every so often. Luckily, fermented foods last much longer, since the fermentation process prevents foods from going off. This means you can store foods for much longer without losing any nutrients.
Where to find fermented foods
I get most of my fermented food products from Jacksons Real Food Market and Eatery in Bryanston. Their Kimchi is my favourite! Also, check out your local supermarkets and health stores for fermented products.
If you’re struggling with your gut health, contact me. I work with Viome to offer you Gut Intelligence Testing. Gut Intelligence Testing analyses the gut to understand how certain changes in diet can lead to better overall health. In addition, Gut Testing reveals what foods and supplements are ideal for you.