What Exactly Are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods are any food that has gone through a process known as lacto-fermentation, where natural bacteria feed on the starch and sugar in the food and create lactic acid. Lactic acid is not only an amazing natural preservative by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria, but the lacto-fermentation process actually increases the vitamin and enzyme levels of the fermented food, thus making it easier to digest, and incredibly healthy for your gut.
Why Are Fermented Foods So Important?
Remember the old saying “you are what you eat”? Well, there’s actually a lot of truth behind that. Your gut is responsible for an estimated 80% of your overall immune health. 80%! It’s one of the largest immune organs in your entire body, which means that whatever we put into it will result in how we feel, so a healthy gut means a healthy body, and in turn, less prone to illness and disease.
Fermented foods are an amazing source of probiotics, which help balance out the bad bacteria in our gut. If you’ve ever taken an antibiotic from the doctor, you may have had some adverse side effects, like stomach pain, or diarrhea. That’s because the antibiotic has not only killed off the bad bacteria in your gut, but unfortunately all the good bacteria too. This results in an unbalanced gut, which can lead to very unpleasant after effects. Balance the bad bacteria with good bacteria from fermented foods, and help aid your digestive system for better bowel health and improved immunity.
2. Absorbs Nutrients Better
Fermented foods also help your body absorb nutrients from other foods much better. When you have too much bad bacteria in your gut, it prevents your body from properly absorbing all the nutrients from healthy, real foods. To fix this, just combine any fermented food with your regular meal of healthy real foods, and the digestive enzymes from the fermentation will allow your gut to absorb all the vitamins and nutrients from those fruits, meats, and vegetables.
3. Detoxifies Your Body
The good bacteria in fermented foods not only allow you to absorb more nutrients, but it also acts as one of the best body detoxifiers and chleators around. It does this by helping your gut to break down and/or bind to any heavy metals or toxins that might be present in your body, allowing your gut to eliminate them from your system more efficiently.
4. Creates An Alkaline State
Recently there have been more and more reports on creating an alkaline state for your body to promote good health. We are prone to eating way too many foods that create a very acidic state in our body, which can lead to disease, cancer, illness, and a host of other chronic health issues. Although fermented foods are acidic in nature, once digested and processed by the body, they create an alkaline state, which is key for optimal health.
What Fermented Foods Should You Eat?
Fermented foods should be a part of your daily diet, alongside real foods such as organic fruits and vegetables. Here are some of the best fermented foods out there.
Kombucha is a fizzy, slightly sour, tangy, fermented drink that you can find at your local health food store, or even your grocery store. There are several companies out there who make Kombucha, some even include Chia Seeds for an added benefit, but Kombucha is surprisingly easy to make on your own. You can flavor the drink with pretty much anything, but the real benefit comes from the multitude of health promoting micro-organisms in the drink itself.
The Germans have the right idea about this fermented food. Not only does the fermented cabbage provide an array of vitamins C, B and K, but it can also be quite tasty too. The cabbage is high in fiber, which is also great for digestion, and can be added to many different dishes for a tangy crunch. If you enjoy it, you might consider making your own, as it’s incredibly simple to do so.
Similar to sauerkraut, kimchi is also made from cabbage, but with a few more ingredients added like carrots, radish, cucumber, and chili. It’s a spicier version of sauerkraut, and has been a staple in Korean’s diet for centuries.
Think of kefir as a delicious liquid yogurt. Packed full of probiotics, kefir is an amazing remedy for digestive issues, or anyone who takes antibiotics for health purposes. Kefir is usually made from fermented dairy, but those who are lactose intolerant can get the same benefits from coconut milk, or nut milk kefir, and can even make your own at home.
Miso is a past made from fermented soy beans and grains, and is packed with huge flavor. If you’ve ever had Miso soup, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s been used for its amazing chleating properties, and has even been found to be beneficial in protecting against certain types of cancers.
6. Pickles and Olives
One of the most common fermented foods out there are pickles and olives, and many of us already eat them on a daily basis. Toss a few olives onto a healthy green salad, or have a pickle with your sandwich for a boost of nutrients. Ready to try fermenting olives on your own? Here’s a great recipe to make them at home.
There are tons of fermented foods out there, and ones you can inexpensively make on your own. Pick and choose which foods you would like, or try them all! Either way, make sure to incorporate them into your diet for a long lasting, healthy life.
Have your own suggestions for your favorite fermented food? Post a comment below and tell us about it!