FERMENTED FOODS - THE NEW SUPER-FOOD
Gut health, probiotics, prebiotics, flora, microbiomes, gluten intolerance, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)... all terms you’ve likely heard or read about. Why have our intestines been getting so much attention?
Remember that old saying, “Trust your gut”? It may have way more relevancy than we ever realized. A healthy gut is a healthy human— that statement may oversimplify the issue but there’s a ton of truth there too.
In previous posts we’ve talked about the problems inherent with a diet full of simple carbohydrates (sugars), processed foods, and a lack of fiber. As is generally true with the human body, one problem leads to another. It’s estimated that our Paleolithic ancestors got an average of up to 100 grams per day of fiber. Compare that to the average American today who gets just 15 grams. Human evolution can adapt to changes but not changes of that magnitude over such a short period of time.
The average American’s diet of highly processed foods full of chemicals and sugars and deficient in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is creating a domino effect that impacts our health in more ways than you can imagine. Our gut is composed of a whole host of microbes (like 40 trillion of them!) that affect your physiology and keep your body and brain functioning as they should. Unfortunately, the American diet is making these 40 trillion microbes very unhappy.
As studies tell us, these gut microbes affect the way you store fat, how you balance levels of glucose in your blood, and how you respond to hormones that make you feel hungry or satiated.
The wrong internal mix can set the stage for obesity and other health issues later in life.
Scientists have also found that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters that regulate your mood including serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.
Researchers have also discovered that a nervous system in your gut (known as the “second brain”) communicates with the brain in your head. It also plays a role in certain diseases and in mental health.
In other words, the wellness of both your body and your brain depend on your gut health.
𝗙𝗲𝗿𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗙𝗼𝗼𝗱𝘀- 𝗦𝘂𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗼𝗱𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮 𝗦𝘂𝗽𝗲𝗿 𝗚𝘂𝘁
Good gut bugs help your body digest and absorb nutrients, synthesize certain vitamins, and rally against intruders, such as the flu and toxic-forming carcinogens. So how do we feed these good gut bugs? Well, the answer is pretty simple— change the foods we eat.
You already know the importance of eating more fiber through a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. But what about fermented foods? Fermented foods give your gut healthy, living microorganisms to crowd out the unhealthy bacteria, improve absorption of minerals, and support overall health.
Fermentation is a process that’s been around for centuries. Our intrepid ancestors fermented foods to preserve them.
Here’s how it works in a nutshell: Bacteria or yeast is added to a particular food, and they feed on the natural sugars. These microorganisms create lactic acid or alcohol, which help preserve the food. They also create probiotics (as discussed above) and other beneficial compounds.
Amazingly, the fermentation process also adds additional nutrients to foods.
𝗚𝘂𝘁 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵𝘆 𝗙𝗲𝗿𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗙𝗼𝗼𝗱𝘀-
2) Kefir (👂kuh-FEAR)
Of these, the one I particularly like and is probably easiest to add to your diet on a daily basis is Kefir.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink with a sour taste, made using a culture of yeasts and bacteria. Kefir has a tart and tangy flavor, and a consistency similar to a drinkable yogurt. Due to the fermentation process, kefir may taste slightly carbonated.
Many of kefir's health benefits are attributed to its probiotic content. Probiotics, or "good bacteria," are living organisms that can help maintain regular bowel movements, treat certain digestive conditions, and support the immune system.
𝗦𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵 𝗕𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗳𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗞𝗲𝗳𝗶𝗿-
• Improved Gut Health
• Blood Sugar Control
• Lower Cholesterol
• Increased Nutrition
• Improved Lactose Tolerance
• Healing Properties
• Weight Control
𝗜𝗠𝗣𝗢𝗥𝗧𝗔𝗡𝗧 𝗛𝗘𝗔𝗟𝗧𝗛 & 𝗦𝗛𝗢𝗣𝗣𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗡𝗢𝗧𝗘-
Not all fermented foods are created equal. For example, when buying SAUERKRAUT or KIMCHI make sure you head to the refrigerated section of your grocery store. Kraut sold on the shelf is pasteurized and DOES NOT contain the active probiotics our gut needs. Look at the ingredients on the label.... the sauerkraut you want is ideally unpasteurized and contains only cabbage and salt, not vinegar or sugar!
When shopping for KEFIR, watch out for products with lots of added sugar. It’s best to stick to products that say unsweetened. There are naturally occurring sugars in Kefir so don’t be alarmed that even the unsweetened brands have sugar content.
𝗗𝗔𝗜𝗥𝗬 𝗙𝗥𝗘𝗘 𝗞𝗘𝗙𝗜𝗥-
For those of you that want a dairy-free Kefir, I know Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both stock Coconut Milk Kefir products.
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