Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have noticed the fermented food train getting on board the wellness train.
There’s a lot of marketing hype around fermented foods like kombucha and sauerkraut but how effective are they really in healing and repairing your gut?
This article will give you the 101 on fermented foods and show you how some people can use them to heal your gut.
What Is Fermentation?
Fermentation is a natural process of breaking down foods. This process promotes the growth of probiotics, where yeast and bacteria convert carbohydrates into alcohol or acids.
Fermented Food Examples
Fermented foods are pre-biotic rich and help heal the gut lining. A short list of fermented foods includes:
- miso, and
- cultured kefir.
These fermented foods are generally good for digestion as they nourish the gut microbiome. Most fermented foods you can easily make yourself and add to a part of a balanced nutritional approach, the most powerful way to a healthy gut.
So what are the actual benefits of eating fermented foods for your body?
Fermented Food Benefits
Most of us have some form of erosion and damage in our gut, from eating gluten, inflammatory foods, taking antibiotics and a whole host of factors.
Eating fermented foods helps aid in helping the gut lining repair and help in how we feel, our mood, perception of stress, ability to maintain our weight and energy levels (see more on how this works, below).
So, how can you make your own fermented foods?
Fermented Food Process
I grew up seeing my grandmother and mother make countless jars of sauerkraut, one of the most popular fermented foods that you can make easily, with only one or two ingredients.
Here is my 3 Step Fermented Food Process to Make Sauerkraut Easily
- Shred one head of organic green cabbage. You can mix this up by adding some purple cabbage, or alternatively carrot or beetroot. If using carrot or beetroot these comprise one quarter of your mix.
Tip: If you want your kids to eat it, and they find regular sauerkraut too bitter you can add shredded apple instead!
- Place the cabbage mix in a mixing bowl and salt with mineral salt (about 3-4 generous teaspoons and knead the cabbage to release the water.
- Place the cabbage mix in a large glass jar and weigh the cabbage down with something heavy to initiate the fermentation process.
And that’s it…one head of cabbage takes around 5-7 days to ferment.
Then it’s a waiting game, to let time do its trick in transforming the cabbage into a fermented sauerkraut that heals and nourishes the gut.
Fermented Foods and Gut Health
When you eat fermented foods, you are actively healing the lining of your large intestine and repairing the microvilli that live along the walls of your gut lining. These microvilli are crucial in absorbing the nutrients from the food you eat. When you have inflammation in your gut lining, your gut lining becomes more permeable and lets food particles and pathogens through into your blood.
That’s when leaky gut and other gut issues arise, causing a multitude of symptoms like bloating, pain, autoimmune symptoms, gut sensitivity, metabolic conditions as well as mood disorders.
Eating foods that cause inflammation, along with too much antibiotic use, chronic stress and crappy sleep wreak havoc with your gut. The major contributor though, is the typical Western foods that damage the gut lining and cause a multitude of symptoms like bloating, pain, autoimmune symptoms, gut sensitivity, metabolic conditions as well as mood disorders.
Fermented foods are traditionally considered foods that heal the gut lining , by making the lining less porous filtering toxins and lowering inflammation, along with the other lifestyle changes you need, as part of a wider holistic approach to maintaining good gut health.
Be nice to give a brief overview of how this works if possible, in layman’s terms.
Fermented Foods Side Effects
Fermented foods are generally safe, and good for digestion. However they are high in probiotics and when first trying them, can cause side effects of initial gas and bloating.
Fermented foods also don’t work for people with histamine intolerances. One indicator of histamine intolerances is that your nose and cheeks flush after drinking red wine.
Foods like fermented garlic, onion or asparagus are high in prebiotic fiber and heal the gut lining. While these are good for many people, they may not be suitable for people who react to fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) or more serious gut issues.
You can see why eating a gut healing diet is requires a highly individualised approach!
Fermented Foods in Australia
As the world enters a health crisis, and we are seeing more cases of leaky gut, obesity, anxiety and chronic stress and fatigue in Australia, and learning how these correlate with the health of our gut microbiome.
Eating fermented foods along with the right individualised gut friendly diet, managing stress, getting adequate sleep and other lifestyle changes are the simplest approach to feeling and living the best version of your life, disease free.
Fermented food is easy to make and can help some people to lower inflammation and improve gut health by feeding the gut flora. The net effect of this is better absorption of nutrients from food and supplements, which creates more energy, better immunity and less pain.
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