The Benefits of Fermented Foods
Our digestive system is composed of a network of beneficial bacteria that are responsible for assisting our digestive system to digest food, absorb nutrients, battle harmful bacteria, and eliminate toxins. When these bacteria are killed off due to food additives, antibiotic drugs, processed foods, our gut health is affected. Eating the right kind of fermented foods and avoiding foods that feed unhealthy bacteria can help nourish our healthy gut bacteria and balance the ratio of beneficial-to-bad bacteria, which will eventually reflect on our overall health and well being.
To achieve the proper ratio of beneficial-to-bad bacteria you need to increase the raw fruits and vegetables, cultured and properly fermented foods, limit sugary foods and anything that your body converts to sugar quickly like refined grains and processed foods. So eat more organic foods, especially greens and all vegetables, fiber-rich foods which cleanse the body like flax, chia and psyllium, and eat a variety of anti-fungal foods like coconut, turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, oregano, cruciferous vegetables, cloves, cinnamon, coriander and olive oil.
WHAT ARE FERMENTED FOODS
Fermented foods contain healthy live bacteria known as probiotics and are foods that have gone through a process during which this bacteria converts the starches and sugars in that food into lactic acid and acetic acid. Fermented foods have high nutritional values (vitamin- K2, trace minerals, B-vitamins and probiotics), are easy to prepare and are economical.
Fermentation is an old food preservation method and was used by the Romans who consumed sauerkraut, Ancient Indians who enjoyed “ Lassi” a pre-dinner yogurt drink, Bulgarians who are known for their high consumption of fermented milk and Kefir, Turks who are famous for their Ariana drink alongside their meals, Asians who pickle cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots and Middle Easterners who use yoghurt to accompany almost every meal.
BENEFITS OF FERMENTED FOODS
1. Optimize your immune and defense system against disease. The skin and the lining of our intestinal system is the first line of defense against the outside world. Housed in the lining of our gut are intraepithelial lymphocytes, key players in our immune system that are activated by compounds in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. Maintaining the optimal conditions in our gut is crucial for our health. Prebiotics, such as fiber rich fruits and vegetables not only are covered in lactic acid bacteria (the good bacteria) but also provide the fiber on which the good bacteria thrive. Live good bacteria also known as probiotics also play a crucial role in the development and operation of the immune system in our digestive tract, aiding in the production of antibodies to pathogens. The key is to balance our ratio of beneficial-to-bad bacteria in the microflora or inner ecosystem of the gut. So if we take an antibiotic, we need to replenish the good bacteria in our gut as quickly as possible as antibiotics are indiscriminate killers that kill not only the pathogens but also 300-1000 different species of essential bacteria which is the foundation of your immune system.
2. Improve your mood and behavior. Our gut is now known as our second brain due to the size, complexity and similarity in terms of neurotransmitters with our brain. In fact, “good bacteria” can stimulate cells in the lining of our intestine to produce the feel good neurotransmitter serotonin.
3. Help control diabetes. There is evidence that certain intestinal bacteria may actually produce compounds that increase estrogen, which in turn has been linked to increased risk for diabetes. Eating a diet high in fiber, low in sugar, allows our beneficial gut bacteria to flourish and flushes out the “unhelpful” bacteria.
4. Fight obesity. Studies have found that certain bacteria may help our bodies retain calories and others may help us shed calories. Restoring our gut flora is crucial when you’re struggling to lose weight.
5. Detoxification. The beneficial bacteria in fermented foods are detoxifiers, capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals from the body.
MOST POPULAR FERMENTED FOODS
Made from fermented cabbage rich in B vitamins and probiotics.
Similar to sauerkraut but spicier and known as Korean kraut. It may contain peppers and other vegetables. Rich in antioxidants.
Made with cucumbers and spices. The best brands will just include organic cucumbers, salt (preferably sea salt) and water. Several brands also include herbs and spices like dill or even garlic and onion Rich in probiotics and minerals like silica.
4. Milk Yogurt, Ariana, Kefir
These cultured foods that are made with milk can regulate your digestive tract. Unlike fermented foods milk is mixed with certain types of live cultures like acidophilus and are kept in a stabilized environment to ensure the right cultures develop. Different types of milk can be used with the best being goat or sheep milk.
5. Coconut Yoghurt, Coconut Kefir
Is a great option if you’re a dairy-free eater. Choose homemade raw coconut yogurt that contains antiviral nutrients like lauric acid and caprylic acid known to fight and kill yeasts and other forms of bad bacteria in the body.
6. And: green bananas, fermented dark chocolate,
tempeh, kombucha, seed cheese, tofu, sour cream, wine, beer, brewed ginger ale, cottage cheese, whey, soy sauce, yeasted breads (sourdough),Tabasco Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, vinegar, “aged” cheeses like parmesan, blue cheese, and feta cheese.