Fermented foods support the trillions of bacteria in our bodies, which are crucial to our immune system, energy, gut health and so many other critical factors. The health benefits of fermented foods don’t stop there-they also help aid in the longevity and strength of the beneficial gut bacteria, which controls the outcome of our health.
I never imagined I would fall in love with sauerkraut or kombucha, but after learning about fermented foods and their health benefits, I couldn’t resist experimenting. I know have my kombucha on a daily basis and love me some sauerkraut!
What are fermented foods?RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Fermented foods are prized for their excellent probiotic levels or good gut bacteria. Fermented foods are a by-product of the food processing technique, know as lactofermentation, in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starches in the food creating lactic acid.
Fermentation preserves the food while creating beneficial enzymes, Omega-3 fatty acids, various strains of probiotics, and b-vitamins. Fermented foods are also shown to break down food to a more digestible form, which can improve ones digestion.
Cultures all over the world have been fermenting and consuming fermented foods for years, from Sauerkraut to kefir to Kimchi. Studies are now revealing the link between a healthy gut to improved brain health and overall health. Dr. David Perlmutter has a book that just came out called “Brain Maker” that talks all about this.
Sadly, even with all the science and evidence of fermented foods health benefits, fermented foods are being lost with the new “Western Diet” and foods. It’s crucial to be aware of the massive difference between healthy fermented foods and commercially processed fermented foods.
The phrase “Quality over quantity” is important when purchasing and consuming fermented foods. Commercially processed fermented foods are pasteurized, which does a great job in destroying all the naturally occurring probiotics found in fermented foods. I personally recommend spending the money on a quality organic fermented food source or make your own at home.
You can just buy quality fermented foods as much as you’re able to afford, because its going to be worth the smaller amounts that you will be adding in, rather than eating a lot of cheap, processed fermented foods that are a waste of your money.
Health benefits of fermented foods
1. Immune system support
Our gut is the home to about 80% of our immune system. Probiotics play a critical role in the production and functionality of the mucosal immune system that lies within our digestive tracts. They also aid in the production of antibodies to harmful pathogens that enter our bodies.
Fermented foods are some of the best chelators, small molecules that bind very tightly to metal ions. The beneficial bacteria that come from fermented foods are highly potent detoxifiers, which are capable of exporting a wide variety of toxins and heavy metals from the body.
3. Microflora variety
Varying the types of fermented and cultured foods will give you a wider variety of beneficial bacteria then taking a single probiotic supplement.
4. Rich probiotic source
Even adding a small amount of fermented foods when you’re able to will give you the biggest bang for your buck because they can contain up to 100 times more probiotic than a supplement can. A bottle of Kombucha will usually run you $2-$3 a bottle, containing 1 serving of over a billion microorganisms to support your health.
5. Nutrient absorption
Having a proper balance of gut bacteria can supply you with an adequate amount of digestive enzymes, which can help you absorb nutrients from the food you eat more effectively.
Sources of fermented foods
1. Cultured vegetables, including pureed baby foods
3. Salsa and mayonnaise
4. Cultured dairy, such as yogurt, kefir, and sour cream
5. Fish, such as mackerel and Swedish gravlax
7. Kim chee and sauerkraut