Do you eat fermented foods regularly? If not, you’re missing an easy way to make your gut healthier. And a healthier gut means a happier and more vibrant you! If your gut isn’t right, you can eat super healthy and still struggle with feeling flat and not quite yourself. Does this sound familiar? Because fermented foods are super important for healing the gut and balancing out the countless good and bad bacteria that live there, they could be your secret weapon for unlocking your most vibrant self.
What are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods are defined as foods that have undergone a process called “lacto-fermentation” wherein natural bacteria feed on starch and sugar on foods creating lactic acid. The fermentation process preserves food and creates highly beneficial enzymes such as Omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins and several strains of probiotics. Natural food fermentation has also shown to effectively preserve food nutrients and break down foods to forms that are easier to digest.
The Benefits of Fermented Foods
A healthy gut environment is super important for your hormones, immunity, digestion and nervous system, which can potentially mean big changes to your health.
1. Fermented Foods Improve Digestion and Bowel Movements
Consuming fermented foods as well as drinking fermented beverages introduces beneficial bacteria to individuals’ digestive system. This also helps in balancing bacteria in the digestive system. It has also been found and proven that probiotics help slow down or reverse diseases, aiding in digestion, and improving immunity and bowel health.
Probiotics are live organisms like yeasts, fungi and bacteria and in sufficient amounts can deliver enormous health benefits. Probiotics are commonly found in fermented foods. Strains of Bifidobacterium and lactobacillus are widely known and used probiotics as they can survive passage through the digestive system and into the gut with highly-acidic stomach conditions.
2. Fermented Foods Help Improve Nutrient Absorption
Having the right balance of gut bacteria as well as sufficient digestive enzymes helps individuals absorb more nutrients in the food they consume. Combine this with a healthy foods diet and you’ll absorb more nutrients from foods that you eat. You will not need numerous supplements and essential vitamins because you will be absorbing more live nutrients in your foods.
3. Fermented Foods are Budget Friendly
Including healthy foods to your diet can be expensive but this is not really the case with fermented foods. You can create your own for a few dollars and by using this and some sea salt. Fermented drinks can also be made in the comfort of your home. Adding these into your diet can cut down number of supplements needed and can help reduce your budget as well.
4. Fermented Foods Help Boost the Immune System
For immunity, good bacteria is involved in helping your body to recognize foreign threats and distinguish them from normal, healthy cells, make more antibodies and help white blood cells to fight infection. About 80% of one’s immune system tends to reside in the gut. A healthy gut means a healthy immune system. Adding some fermented foods into your diet can ensure a healthier immune system.
5. Fermented Foods Help Reduce Sugar Cravings
By also incorporating fermented foods into your diet, you can possibly limit or completely stop your sugar cravings. Reducing sugar intake is proven to be beneficial to your health.
6. Fermented Foods Promote Better Gut Health
Lactic acid produced during fermentation helps already present healthy bacteria in the gut to proliferate and this leads to optimum gut health. Fermented foods can be great if you’ve been experiencing problems such as food intolerances, yeast infections, digestive issues and allergies. These can often stem from an unhealthy gut and fermented foods can help to tackle this. And with as much as 90% of your levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that is heavily involved in mood) being made in your gut, fermented foods can be a really underrated way to help you to improve your well-being and feel better and more vibrant. If you want a healthier gut, you can eat fermented foods.
7. Fermented Foods Help Calm Inflammation
Basically, they give your body the tools to start healing, which is crucial for your health and well-being. And for anyone with health issues that stem from inflammation, fermented foods can help to calm things down. This is particularly great for people with autoimmune conditions, which are often highly inflammatory.
8. Fermented Foods Can Help with Weight Management
According to a 2011 study published in the Nutrition Research Journal, fermented kimchi supports weight loss and can help to reduce body fat in people who are overweight – much more so than fresh kimchi. Plus, it can improve metabolic and cardiovascular disease markers such as blood pressure, fasting blood glucose levels and waist-to-hip ratio.
9. Fermented Foods Improve Food Flavor
The process of fermentation tends to add new depths to the fermented foods making them more nutritious and delicious. This also makes every meal experience satisfying and healthy.
What Fermented Foods Should You Eat
Some examples of some popular fermented foods include:
- Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
- Kombucha (a fermented tea)
- Kefir (a fermented milk drink)
- Kimchi (a side dish made from fermented vegetables)
- Yogurt with live cultures
- Fermented vegetables
If you want to add more fermented foods into your diet, try including 1-2 tablespoons of them with meals and build up from there. Experts suggest you’ll get the best benefits from eating half a cup of fermented foods with foods. And as you’ll see in the next section, it’s not that difficult to make them yourself.
Making Your Own Fermented Foods
Homemade fermented foods tend to have more bacteria (both bad and good) than most of the ones you’ll find in the grocery store. Pasteurization can kill off as much as 80% of the bacteria in store bought fermented foods, which also destroys most of their benefits. Making your own fermented veggies means you don’t have to worry about that and it’s not as difficult as you might think!
For the fermentation process, you’ll need a fermentation container such as a large, clean glass jar and some sea salt (around 1-3 tablespoons for every liter of water that you’re using).
Chop up your chosen veggies as finely as you can and sprinkle with the salt. Massage the salt into the vegetables for around 5 minutes. If you don’t want to use your hands, you can try a potato masher instead for this part. You should have started to produce a brine at this point. Carry on with this until your vegetables are covered in the brine and transfer to the fermentation container.
Ideally, the veggies will be completely under the brine and not peeking out. If this isn’t the case, the bacteria won’t be able to do its work properly in fermenting them. You may need to add a touch more water to the jar to make sure that everything is fully submerged.
Once you’re done, cover the container with a very tight-fitting lid. Leave it at room temperature and over the next couple of weeks, it should ferment naturally. If your container has an ultra-tight lid, you’ll need to unscrew it every day to let some of the pressure out of the jar.
Fermented Foods Are a Game-Changer
The benefits of fermented foods can never be underrated. An increased number of individuals are now opting to include fermented foods in their diets because of the immense benefits these foods provide, and I hope that you consider adding them as well.
There are many different types of fermented foods and fermentation varies in terms of involved microbes, effects on food and amount of microbe by-products left at the end
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