How Fermentation Can Change Your Gut Health For The Better

If you’ve ever eaten Korean food, then you already know about the magical side dish that is kimchi. It’s a simple fermented cabbage with salt and spices that completely transforms anything you put it on.

But did you know that as much as kimchi does for the flavor of your food, it does even more for the health of your stomach?

Fermented foods (common in many traditional cuisines, including Korean food) can have an enormous impact on the health of your entire digestive system. They can help banish the bad bacteria that make you sick, and replace them with the vital, healthy bacteria that help you digest your food, absorb all the nutrients, and feel your best.

Benefit #1: Traditional fermented foods help balance the production of stomach acid.

Fermented foods have the unique ability to ease digestive discomfort related to having either too much or too little stomach acid. When the production of hydrochloric acid by the stomach is low, fermented foods help increase the acidity of gastric juices. On the other hand, when the stomach produces too much acid, fermented foods help protect the stomach and intestinal lining.

As we age, our production of the digestive enzymes and juices required for proper digestion begin to decrease. Eating traditional fermented foods like sauerkraut, buttermilk, and pickled vegetables can help make up for this loss. The key is to eat a small portion once or twice daily with meals.

Benefit #2: Traditional fermented foods help the body produce acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses. Within the context of digestion, it helps increase the movement of the bowel, and can help reduce constipation. It also helps improve the release of digestive juices and enzymes from the stomach, the pancreas, and the gallbladder. So by helping your body produce acetylcholine, fermented foods act as potent digestive aids.

Benefit #3: Traditional fermented foods are beneficial for people with diabetes.

In addition to improving pancreatic function, which is of great benefit to diabetics, the carbohydrates in lactic acid–fermented foods have been broken down or “pre-digested.” As a result, they do not place an extra burden on the pancreas, unlike ordinary carbohydrates.

Benefit #4: Traditional fermented foods produce numerous unknown compounds that destroy and inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria.

Many pathogenic forms of bacteria are sensitive to acidic environments. This is true of both cholera and typhoid. In the early 1950s, during an epidemic of typhoid fever in Europe, reports emerged showing that fresh sauerkraut was an effective agent for killing the bacteria. More recently, German scientists were working with a strain of lactic acid bacteria found in sourdough bread, and discovered that it seemed to be more effective than other strains at killing microbes. In early lab results, it quickly eliminated the super-bugs currently resistant to most antibiotics.
– via www.drdavidwilliams.com

Fermentation is great… now what do I eat?

So now you know that fermented foods are some of the best things you can put in your body for gut health. But how do you find them? What should you eat to feel your best?

This is a great list of 5 fantastic fermented foods.

1. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut has been around for hundreds of years and 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. See these tips for making your own at home and have a serving a day with any meal that you choose.

2. Kimchi

Kimchi is a fantastic 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 more bang for your buck and more spice in your bite! See tips on making your own kimchi at home and why it truly is such a healing food to include in your diet.

3. Real Pickles

Real pickles (not those on the shelves) are much like sauerkraut except made with cucumbers and spices. Buy real pickles found in the produce section 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.

4. Raw Coconut Yogurt

Yogurt is fantastic cultured food to include in your healing plan and in your regular routine. Why? Because 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 and 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. Coconut yogurt is also delicious creamy, filling, and so easy to make!

5. Water or Coconut 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. See more tips about coconut kefir here, or purchase water kefir at your local health food store.
– via One Green Planet

Do you ever eat fermented foods?