Top 6 Fermented Foods for Improved Gut Health
There is nothing new about gut-friendly foods, in fact, there is a long history of their use that goes back centuries. These foods are made from a traditional process in order to preserve them so they will last a long time without spoiling.
The added benefit is that it boosts the foods nutritional value and gives your body a healthy amount of quality probiotics.
History of fermented foods
Fermented foods have been part of world culture dating back as far as 6000 B.C, foods like chutney, yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, and Korean kimchi have been among traditional fermented foods.
Cooling foods in order to avoid spoilage date back to 1000 B.C. However, before the 1830s very few Americans used any form of refrigeration for preserving foods. Most cultures have preserved foods by fermenting or curing them to prevent them from spoiling.
For many years countries have fermented foods which do more than just prevent food from spoiling it’s also healthy and provides your body and stomach with healthy organisms for gut health.
Foods kept in a liquid or brine in a cold dark place can be preserved for months and even years without spoiling. Better yet they offer a wealth of health benefits 1.
Gut friendly foods are everywhere at the moment, and for a good reason.
Benefits of fermented foods:
- Easier to digest
- Have higher vitamin content
- Helps increase healthy gut bacteria
- Increase nutrients rich in B vitamins
- Boost your immune system
A healthy gut is beneficial for overall health it can help boost your immune system, increasing brain function, and super-charge your metabolism.
A healthy gut can even help reduce your risk of getting diabetes.
Probiotics and science
There is a lot of evidence from research that certain strains of probiotics help promote a healthy microbial balance in the gastrointestinal tract. this helps reduce stomach inflammation and supports a healthy immune system.
There are many health conditions they may be prevented and even cured with probiotic therapy including, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) cancer inflammatory bowel disease and diarrhea and gastritis.
The benefits of fermented foods
Fermentation is a process that involves the breakdown of sugars by bacteria and yeast. “When a food is fermented, it is exposed to bacteria that break down sugars naturally present in the food to produce lactic acid.
By ingesting these good bacteria, you create a more acidic environment in your stomach. This helps digestion and the production of more enzymes in your gut, so, when you eat fermented foods, it boosts the beneficial bacteria (aka probiotics) in your gut which is important for healthy digestion and good gut health.
Unfortunately today these techniques of preservation are not common which is why there is so much widespread disease and even worse is that our bodies immune system has become resistant to antibiotics. Raw fermented foods can play an important role in strengthening the bodies immune system, below are some of the best foods you can consume to ensure you are getting plenty of probiotics in your diet.
Kefir has been touted as the probiotic food of the 21st century, Kefir is a fermented dairy product which comes in the form of a yogurt drink. “Kefir is a probiotic powerhouse that contains over 30 strains of good bacteria, it can help populate your gut with beneficial bacteria and restrict the growth of bad bacteria. Plus, it tastes delicious on its own and can be used to make great tasting smoothies.
Kefir is consumed in many Eastern European countries but it has also become a popular drink all around the world. While you can find kefir in most local health food and grocery stores it is fairly easy to make at home 2.
Sauerkraut is fermented shredded cabbage—while it may sound gross, it tastes yummy. Cabbage is naturally good for digestion due to its fiber content, however, when it’s fermented, it contains the beneficial probiotics which help your gut absorb the nutrients in the cabbage more easily. Sauerkraut is rich in protein and dietary fiber. It is loaded with vitamins C, K, A B6 it is also a good source of minerals such as copper, magnesium-iron, and manganese.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ve probably heard about this magical gut healthy drink. Kombucha is made from fermenting a colony of bacteria called the ‘scoby’ and is full of good (live bacteria) to aid with gut health and digestion.
Kombucha has been around for over 2,000 years it is a drink made from bacteria and yeast that is mixed with either black or green tea and sugar. The tea turns into Kombucha from the fermentation process which creates symbiotic yeast and bacteria.
Kimchi is a traditional side dish and staple food in Korean cuisine it consists of fermented vegetables that include Korean radish, napa cabbage, scallions, garlic, and ginger. There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi.
Kimchi is full of living enzymes for a healthy gut—fondly known as the Korean sister of sauerkraut kimchi packs a spicy and tangy punch. It’s packed with good bacteria—and “studies have found that it boosts probiotic levels and aids your digestion.
Pulque is a traditional Mexican drink extracted from the agave plant also known as the drink of the gods, it is loaded with amino acids, enzymes, and minerals. Pulque is an alcoholic drink that has an alcohol content similar to beer, some say that pulque is the closest thing to meat because every 100grams contains 1.99mg of protein, vitamin C and vitamin B2.
Pulque has probiotic bacteria that can help prevent gastrointestinal ailments such as inflammation of the colon and gastrointestinal disorders. The Only bad thing about Pulque is that it has a short shelf life and the only place good pulque is available is in Mexico, so, if you ever have a chance to visit Mexico you should try a glass of this traditional drink.
6. Dark chocolate
A few squares after dinner aren’t just for keeping us sane and satisfied but are also good for our gut. “In moderation, of course, research has shown that gut-friendly bacteria helps break down and ferment the compounds in dark chocolate.
Yes, the bacteria in your gut can ferment the sugar in the cocoa in the chocolate, this may increase gut flora and help with healthy gut function like reducing bloating—it should, however, be noted that everyone’s gut varies, so everyone will benefit differently!
If you have been struggling with poor digestion and have been looking for a natural way to improve your gut health these foods will not let you down. Most of them are delicious and offer a safe way to improve good bacteria and your overall health.