Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and kombucha have been in the limelight for their role in supporting healthy bacteria in your gut, but in my opinion, they are also delicious. I am a BIG fan of these, because of the health benefit and also because of how yummy they are!
If you’re looking to eat more fermented foods on a regular basis, there are two great approaches to take. First, if you love a good DIY project, consider making your own; it’s totally doable and can be a lot of fun to make things like kefir or sourdough – this seems to be the trend at the moment so there are plenty of kits available for beginners to use. The other option is just to buy them top local businesses like Irene’s Gourmet and Che Gourmet.
Historically the fermentation technique was used as a way of preserving foods and drinks before the days of refrigeration. During the process of fermentation, bacteria, yeast or fungi convert organic compounds like sugars and starch into alcohol or acids. For example, starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted to lactic acid and this lactic acid acts as a natural preservative. Fermentation can produce quite distinctive, strong, slightly sour flavours. Anyone that has tried kombucha knows that taste I am referring to!
The bacteria that live in our gut are essential for gut and overall health. They help with digestion and absorption nutrients and play a significant role in how our immune system’s function. But, there are also ‘bad’ bacteria that also reside in the gut and the challenge is achieving the right balance between the two. When the balance is shifted in favour of the bad bacteria, symptoms may arise such as bloating, constipation or diarrhoea. This is termed ‘dysbiosis’ – the state in which the gut flora is out of balance.
Modern diets, high in refined sugars and busy, stressful lifestyles can contribute to dysbiosis by feeding the bad bacteria, enabling them to flourish. Eliminating refined, high sugar foods and including probiotic-rich fermented foods is thought to bring the gut back into balance and support the immune system.
To optimise gut health and in turn, overall physical and mental health, 1-2 servings of fermented foods a day is recommended.
“The road to health is paved with good intestines!”
― Sherry A. Rogers