GUT HEALTH: 3 Reasons Why Fermented Foods Are Essential
When you hear the word “fermentation,” gut health is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, and yogurt are actually carriers of living microorganisms (probiotics) which are essential for a healthy and happy you.
If you haven’t already discovered the healing powers of fermented foods, here are a few more reasons why you should:
PROMOTES A HEALTHY DIGESTIVE TRACT
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, and aid your digestive system in breaking down different forms of carbohydrates (from lactose, sugars, starches, and processed foods) and promote vitamin production.
Studies have shown that probiotics promote the growth of “good” bacteria in your body improving and restoring balance to your digestive tract - aiding your digestion (say bye to bloating, abdominal pains, and reflux), strengthening our intestinal walls (preventing potential Leaky Gut), supporting your body's immune system, and contributing towards overall health - both mental and physical.
2. BOOSTS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Studies indicate probiotic-rich fermented foods boost your immune system by helping your digestive tract build and maintain healthy levels of micro-flora. This gut flora contributes towards the growth of innate immune cells and offers a defense against potential pathogens, working to combat inflammation.
It is especially critical to increase your intake of fermented foods following a round of antibiotics so as to repair your immune system and increase the number of “good bacteria”. Consuming fermented foods is one of the best (and easiest) ways to maintain a normal level of intestinal flora inside your digestive tract.
3. HELPS KEEP YOU LEAN
Studies highlight that a balanced gut can help avoid obesity and slim you down. As author of The Microbiome Diet, Raphael Kellman, MD, points out, “… its about correcting the overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria, which is making you crave the wrong foods, [and] triggering inflammation.”
Its also suggested that the relationship between consumption of fermented foods and the slimming side effects stems from the strengthening of your intestinal walls - which in turn prohibits ‘bad’ bacteria (related to obesity, diabetes and glucose intolerance) from entering your bloodstream.
In addition to the above benefits, fermented foods can also improve the following conditions:
- Allergies and colds
- Oral health
- Joint stiffness
- Skin conditions like eczema
- Urinary and vaginal health
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)
TASTY FERMENTED FOODS FOR A HAPPY GUT
Its been established that adding fermented foods (or a probiotic supplement) to your diet is the key to keeping your microbiota in a healthy balance. Well, thankfully, it’s easier than ever to load up on some of these superfoods!
Below you’ll find a list of some surprisingly tasty foods and beverages that are packed with all the gut healthy good stuff:
- Raw Cheeses (i.e. goat and sheep’s milk cheeses)
- Sauerkraut (be sure try this easy-to-follow recipe)
- Natto (a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans)
Many of these probiotic-rich foods are great on sandwiches, salads, or as a supplement to any of your favorite recipes.
KID-APPROVED FERMENTED FOODS
And if you have little ones in the house, fret-not! They can take advantage of these same health benefits with less "traditional", kid-friendly options - try this round up of delicious ideas from Homemade Mommy (Coconut milk kefir?? Yum!).
What are YOUR favorite fermented food combinations?