Fermented Foods for Gut Health
Author: Jillian Foster Date Posted:27 March 2018
What are fermented foods?
The fermentation of foods certainly isn’t new. It is believed to date back more than 8,000 years when civilizations were making beer, wine and bread. It involves a process called lacto-fermentation. During this process, natural bacteria (also called lactobacilli) feed on starches and sugars, converting them to lactic acid. This preserves the food and creates prebiotics and probiotics, along with other nutrients including b-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and beneficial enzymes.
Common fermented foods include: Kombucha, yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, umeboshi, pickles, natto and sourdough.
What is so great about fermented foods?
There are many benefits of fermented foods so let’s look at what makes them so great. Firstly, fermented foods are live and active. They are teeming with beneficial bacteria and yeast. They contain a variety of live cultures (probiotics) along with prebiotics which are simply the food the probiotics feast on to help them grow.
The process of fermentation pre-digests crucial nutrients for you. Fermented foods are considered a functional and whole food loaded with vitamins, minerals and enzymes. In addition to this, the microflora further aid the absorption of the nutrients in the foods you eat considerably. Fermentation does not use heat. This allows fermented foods and drinks to retain their vital amino acids and nutrients that can be destroyed by heat. It is also worth noting that fermented foods and drinks are acid-resistant. As our digestive system is reliant on the use of acids to breakdown food, being acid-resistant means they are viable in the body from the mouth all the way down to the gut.
You may have heard of fermented foods for gut health. Well, fermented foods provide all the benefits associated with improved gut flora. These include:
- Improve digestion and absorption of vital nutrients
- Reduces constipation and bloating
- Improve the colonisation of intestinal, respiratory and urogenital tracts
- Weight management
- Lower cholesterol and improve blood lipid profile
- Optimise blood pressure
- Improve mood, mental function and emotional stability
- Dramatically improve all aspects of immune function
- Increase energy and reduce stress
- Helps our body to detoxify & acts as a natural chelator of toxins
They also contain some great nutrients, which are readily absorbed into your body due to the effect cultured foods have on your gut. Here are the main ones:
- Vitamin K2 - crucial for cardiovascular and bone health
- Vitamin C - essential for immune health, and a powerful antioxidant
- Lactic Acid - optimises colon pH by increasing acidity and inhibiting pathogenic bacteria and yeasts like Candida. Actively breakdowns pesticides, harmful chemicals and toxins
- B vitamins - crucial for the nervous system, mental function, digestion, and blood health
- Essential amino acids - powerful antioxidants, essential for a huge range of important functions in every area of the body
Who should use fermented foods?
Fermented foods are beneficial for just about everyone. They are a functional food and are therefore an easy way to pack extra nutrients and beneficial bacteria into your diet. We especially recommend them if you:
- Have sluggish digestion resulting in bloating and constipation
- Are struggling to lose weight
- Are embarking on a detox
- Want to boost immune function
Fermented foods are a great way of preserving your food as they will last months in the fridge. Once you start fermenting your own foods you will realise it’s a budget-friendly way of looking after your health.
|Written by Jillian Foster|
Jillian (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath who believes through a healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle, we have the power to influence our health and the health of future generations. With a passion for herbal medicine, Jillian loves helping people find the right solution for their health needs and educating people on how they can lead a healthy and happy life.
Jillian enjoys keeping active with her two young children and baking them delicious and healthy treats.