Health Boosting Benefits of Fermented Foods

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1194952060_2a9e1da541_bDid you know that our bodies are primarily made up of bacteria? The bacteria that resides in our gut, called microbiome governs many of our body’s key functions and is crucial to our overall health.

Balanced gut bacteria regulates the immune system, metabolism, sustains the gastrointestinal tract, supports mood and brain function, produces crucial vitamins and nutrients, and also helps us to lose weight and get leaner!

If you want to lose weight and feel better than it is important that you balance your gut bacteria. One of the best ways to do that is by eating fermented foods.

What is fermenting?

The art of fermenting food is deeply rooted in tradition. Traditional cultures didn’t have canning jars or supermarkets. The food they harvested in one season often had to be kept and stored for the upcoming seasons, and their survival often depended on its preservation. Gratefully, they had a simple and effective method of preservation – fermentation. Countless cultures around the world ferment in part as a preservation technique but also as a way to enhance the nutritional profile of ingredients.

Fermenting converts sugars; glucose, fructose and sucrose – into cellular energy and a metabolic byproduct (lactic acid), which as a result produces powerful digestive enzymes and healthy gut flora and as well cuts the sugar content of a food.  Fermentation enhances the micronutrient profile of foods jammed packed with probiotics, enzymes, vitamins and minerals.

Some of the benefits of naturally fermented foods are:

Restores gut health: Most of our ancestors’ diets were high with live probiotic bacteria; our diets today unfortunately are often depleted. With more and more research showing the importance of a healthy gut, the importance of eating foods that will aid our gut health is becoming more prominent.

It helps remove toxins from the body: Fermentation breaks down the nutrients in foods by the action of beneficial microorganisms and create natural chelators that are available to bind toxins and remove them from the body.

Fermentation Decreases Sugar Content: It’s actually the sugar in vegetables that actually kicks off the fermentation process. So essentially the sugars are being eaten away.

Fights Cancer: Fermented foods are rich in Vitamin K2 and studies have shown that increased intake of Vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Helps you Absorb Nutrients Better: When your gut flora is out of whack you don’t absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat. So no matter how much kale you munch on you won’t be reaping any of the benefits. Fermented foods produce the digestive enzymes, which ensure you get the most nutrients out of all foods you ingest.

It Supports Immune Function: Did you know that the gut is the largest immune organ in the body? The chronic inflammation linked to diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes can begin with dysfunctional gut bacteria.

The following foods are healthy fermented foods that are readily available and can be easily incorporated into your diet:

Sauerkraut — A version of fermented cabbage eaten traditionally in Eastern Europe, Russia, Austria, and Germany, sauerkraut has been used as a digestive remedy, healer, and immune system booster. It’s also a great way to preserve your food and is easy to make at home. Sauerkraut is made from fermented cabbage, which naturally has B vitamins for good gut health and natural prebiotics.

Kimchi — Kimchi is a powerful source of probiotics and very similar to sauerkraut with a few differences. It’s normally spicier and is known as Korean kraut. Containing peppers and other vegetables, it’s also normally richer in antioxidants though still made in a base of cabbage. It does not contain caraway seeds, dill or other spices typically used in sauerkraut. Choose this option if you want increased health power and more spice in your bite!

Fermented Vegetables — Real pickles, not the store bought, are much like sauerkraut except made with cucumbers and spices. Real pickles can be found in the produce section of your grocery store that are refrigerated. The best brands will just include organic cucumbers, salt (preferably sea salt) and water. Several brands also include herbs like dill or even garlic and onion if you like more flavor. Pickles are packed with good probiotics, and cucumbers that they are made from have many gut healing properties along with sources of minerals like silica, which aids the health of the hair, skin and nails.

Coconut or Water Kefir — Water kefir is a great option to dairy-based kefir, which has 10- 12 times the probiotics than yogurt. However, one thing to keep in mind about kefir is that is made from yeasts, not just probiotic cultures. Kefir is made from kefir grains, which are not grains but merely a cluster of yeasts that produce good bacteria during the culturing process. If you’re sensitive or allergic to yeast, you’ll need to opt for yogurt instead since it is not derived from yeast. However, if you are not sensitive to yeast, definitely opt for kefir whenever possible. It is one of the most ancient healing beverages to consume and is available as water or coconut kefir if you do not tolerate dairy.

Coconut Yogurt – Yogurt is fantastic cultured food to include in your healing plan and in your regular routine. Unlike fermented foods, yogurt is a cultured food meaning it is kept in a stabilized environment to ensure the right cultures develop and take place. Normally it is made with milk which mixes the cultures acidophilus along with a few others that provide healing and regulating properties to the digestive tract. However, if you’re a dairy-free eater or just looking to avoid the negative issues that can come from eating dairy, opt for homemade raw coconut yogurt. Avoid those in the store that have a good bit of fillers and sugars that can actually hurt your gut instead of help it. Coconut yogurt also has the benefits of containing antiviral nutrients known as lauric acid and caprylic acid which have been shown to fight and kill yeasts and other forms of bad bacteria in the body

These fermented foods are highly recommend for both weight loss and overall improvement of health including depression, anxiety, brain fog, skin problems, hormonal issues, immune weaknesses, digestive problems, and fatigue.

I personally take probiotics on a regular basis, but I don’t like depending on them completely. As some experts believe it, probiotics in the form of fermented foods are better utilized by our bodies and are a more effective means.

Now that you have a better understating of fermented foods and an array of healthy foods to fuel your gut, I would love to hear of any recipes you may like to share. Leave me a message!

 

 

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about the author

Karen Gallagher

Karen Gallagher

As a fitness expert and Holistic Nutritionist, Karen brings a unique blend of experience gained working in the health industry for over 20 years. Her holistic coaching offers an individualized process to help you move forward in life and to end the diet/binge cycle for good. She provides coaching tools and assists with strategies to promote self-discovery and the exploration of different perspectives to help inspire you to reach your health and wellness goals. She has had great success with her clients by taking a holistic approach to health. Karen believes every individual requires support, knowledge and compassion to achieve great health and wellness.

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About Karen Gallagher

Karen is a Holistic Lifestyle & Fitness Expert on a mission to cut through the over-complicated B.S. around food, health and well-being so that busy women, can learn how to transform their bodies and nourish their souls so they can feel strong, fit and confident.

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