Fermented Foods – Why are they so good for you?

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Fermented Foods are Probiotic & Gut Restoring Foods

Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, B-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics. Natural fermentation of foods has also been shown to preserve nutrients in food and break the food down to a more digestible form.

Why Eat Fermented Foods?

Probiotics– Eating fermented foods and drinking fermented drinks like Kefir and Kombucha will introduce beneficial bacteria into your digestive system and help the balance of bacteria in your digestive system. Probiotics have also been shown to help slow or reverse some diseases, improve bowel health, aid digestion, and improve immunity!

  1. Absorb Food Better– Having the proper balance of gut bacteria and enough digestive enzymes helps you absorb more of the nutrients in the foods you eat. Pair this with your healthy whole foods diet, and you will absorb many more nutrients from the foods you eat.
  2. Budget Friendly– Incorporating healthy foods into your diet can get expensive, but not so with fermented foods. You can make your own whey at home for a couple of dollars, and using that and sea salt, ferment many foods very inexpensively. Drinks like Water Kefir and Kombucha can be made at home also and cost only pennies per serving. Adding these things to your diet can also cut down on the number of supplements you need, helping the budget further.
  1. Preserves Food Easily– Homemade salsa only lasts a few days in the fridge- Fermented homemade salsa lasts months! The same goes for sauerkraut, pickles, beets and other garden foods. Lacto-fermentation allows you to store these foods for longer periods of time without losing the nutrients like you would with traditional canning.

What common fermented foods can I add to my diet?

Yogurt- Yogurt has been used for centuries to cure bowel troubles and diarrhea. In addition, regular yogurt contains the hormone-like substance called prostaglandin E2, which can prevent ulcers. But the type of yogurt you eat makes a difference.

  • Be sure the label says the product has “active cultures.” Some companies pasteurize the product after it’s been made, and this kills off the remaining beneficial bacteria, making it useless.
  • Look for products made from L.acidophilus bacteria cultures. They will have the greatest benefits. Most yogurts are now made using L.bulgricus or streptoccus thermophilus.
  • Avoid yogurts containing sugar (usually the yogurts with fruit are loaded with sugar). Add your own fruit. Bananas give yogurt a sweet taste and counteract the sourness. For a more consistent sweetness, try blending the banana into the yogurt in the blender.

Cottage Cheese- The traditional fermented food cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein, calcium, and to a lesser degree, beneficial bacteria. Again, look for low salt products.

Whey- Whey is the liquid remaining after the curds and cream have been removed from clabbered milk. You can use it in soups, add it to steamed vegetables, or mix it into fruit juice or blender drinks for extra zip.

Kefir- Kefir is an excellent milk-based beverage that you can make by adding kefir grains to milk.  The grains are actually colonies of yeast and bacteria that look like cooked rice clumps. In 12 hours, about four ounces of grains added to one quart of milk will produce the beverage.

 Non-Dairy Fermented Foods

If you have a bacteria imbalance in the bowels but can’t handle soured milk products, try some of these other traditional fermented foods:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickled cucumbers
  • Pickled garlic
  • Pickled beets
  • Pickled radish
  • Pickled corn relish
  • Korean kimchi
  • Natto
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Soy sauce
  • Fermented tofu
  • Our naturopaths can assist with Fermented Foods, so for more information book in to see one of our friendly practitoners or mention this post next time you are in for your regular appointment.
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