Fermented Food is Good For Your Health...Trust Your Gut on This One
So you're exercising regularly, eating all your veggies at dinner, religiously taking a daily multi-vitamin, and getting plenty of sleep at night. What more could one possible do to take charge of their health? Well, before you get too comfortable in your yoga pants, ask yourself this important question. Are you getting your daily recommended amount of...Sauerkraut?
Fermented food is all the rage in health food circles today, and for good reason! Fermented food is brimming with probiotics, friendly bacteria, that help boost the health-promoting power of the bacteria present in your gut. Most of us are aware that the bacteria in our guts helps aid in digestion, but did you know that a whopping 70% of the work and 80% of the mass of our Immune Systems is located in your gut? Knowing this, it just makes sense that we would want to do all we can to fortify this critically important system in our bodies, and probiotics and fermented food could be the key.
An article in a 2006 Journal of Applied Microbiology, gave an eye-opening list of the incredible health benefits of including fermented food and probiotics in our diets:
- Reduced overall inflammation (both in and out of the GI tract)
- Improvement of digestive disorders like leaky gut syndrome, ulcerative colitis, IBS and pouchitis
- Improved immunity
- Better nutrient absorption
- Prevention and treatment of diarrhea
- Prevention and symptom reduction of food allergies, including lactose intolerance, milk protein allergy and others
- Improvement of high blood pressure
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Alleviation of arthritis inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic juvenile arthritis)
- Reduction of eczema symptoms
- Lowered cholesterol
- Protection against H. pylori infection
- Better immune response in HIV/AIDS patients
- Improved vaginal health and prevention of bacterial infections like UTIs and bacterial vaginosis
- Natural remedy for the liver/brain disease hepatic encephalopathy
With the potential for SO much increased health and disease prevention, I'm ready for a hearty helping of some fermented food! But where do you start, and what exactly qualifies for a cultured of fermented food?
Maybe this list of a few of our favourite ferments will inspire you, and give you a place to start.
Who knew that this favourite condiment that compliments a good Hot-dog is also amazing for your gut health? This fermented cabbage, enjoyed for centuries in eastern Europe, is bubbling over with beneficial microbes. In addition to those fantastic little microbes, Sauerkraut weighs in at just 27 calories in a cup, and is full of other important nutrients like fibre, Vitamin K and C, and Iron. It's so simple to sneak sauerkraut into your meals! It makes a fantastic condiment for salads, is tasty sauteed with onions and potatoes, and is perfect topped with fried egg.
Kombucha & Water Kefir
Kombucha is a fermented sweetened tea that brings a powerful probiotic punch! Kombucha has long been appreciated in the Chinese culture, being called the "immortal health elixer", in Chinese literature. Kombucha is readily available all over the world today, and can help with weight loss, improve heart health, and fight diabetes. So, bottoms up to Kombucha, for your gut and for your health!
Tempeh is a fermented soy product, similar to tofu. Tempeh is a favourite meat substitute for many vegans because it tastes great, is a fantastic blank canvas for any flavour profile you wish, and has all the benefits of a fermented food. See our Fresh Box recipe for Vegan Asian Orange Tempeh, for an awesome way to use Tempeh, and for some health facts on this wonderful ferment.
An 84-gram serving of tempeh contains these nutrients:
- Calories: 162
- Protein: 15 grams
- Carbs: 9 grams
- Total fat: 9 grams
- Sodium: 9 milligrams
- Iron: 12% of the RDI
- Calcium: 9% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 18% of the RDI
- Niacin: 12% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 18% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 21% of the RDI
- Manganese: 54% of the RDI
Yogurt is that ubiquitous ferment that we've all been enjoying for years without fully appreciating all of it's health benefits. Yoghurt makes it easy to boost our gut health because it is so versatile. You can eat it straight out of the container for a snack. Throw on a few berries and some granola for a quick, healthy breakfast. Add yoghurt to a smoothie, throw in some cucumbers, lemon juice, and dill to plain yoghurt to make Tatziki sauce, top your favourite curry sauce with a dallop to balance the spices. There's no end to the applications and the health benefits of yoghurt in our diets.
So, Now you know. Fermented food is what's missing from your healthy life-style. Let's give our guts a little love, and make sure that fermented and cultured foods make a regular appearance at our tables.
Sources: healthline.com, "Probiotics 101: A Simple Beginners Guide", https://sfamjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/, "Probiotics and Their Fermented Food Products are Beneficial for Health", The Rich Roll Podcast, "GMO's, Glyphosate, and Gut Health", webmd.com, "Why is Sauerkraut Good For Me?", organicfacts.net, "16 Impressive Benefits of Drinking Kombucha Tea"
Photo Source: hungryforchange.tv