I had this thought today when I was getting ready to sit down and write, I love my job! I just hung up with a client that has made amazing strides in her health after years of having major digestive issues. She was not even able to go out to eat without feeling sick, bloated, crampy, and not well the entire next day. We ran some labs, she made some specific changes to her lifestyle and diet, took some supplements that coordinated and began a daily routine with fermented foods. She has worked hard! She says she feels like she has her life back again and that her stomach does not control the outcome of the day.
What about these fermented foods?
Fermented foods are filled with probiotics, and there is a growing awareness of the benefits of these “friendly” bacteria in maintaining optimal health.
What Are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods are foods that have been prepared in a way so that the bacteria naturally found within them starts to ferment.
Fermentation, also known as lacto-fermentation, is a chemical process in which bacteria and other micro-organisms break down starches and sugars within the foods, possibly making them easier to digest, and resulting in a product that is filled with helpful organisms and enzymes. This process of fermentation is a natural preservative, which means that fermented foods can last a long time.
Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are filled with enzymes and healthy bacteria and can:
- Enhance digestion
- Balance the gut flora
- Help to fight off disease-producing microorganisms
- Produce nutrients
- Boost the immune system
There are many advantages of eating fermented foods instead of taking a probiotic supplement:
- You are getting probiotics in a natural form
- You are guaranteed to get live strains
- You are getting more strains than those isolated in a laboratory.
- You are getting a variety of strains, thus improving the likelihood that you are giving your system what it needs.
- Fermented foods are significantly more affordable than many probiotic formulations.
Fermented Foods for Digestive Symptoms
If you have have chronic digestive problems, including IBS, fermented foods may be a great dietary option: they enhance the digestive process and have a positive effect on the gut flora, thus reducing problematic digestive symptoms just like the probiotics mentioned last week . In addition, because of the sugars in the fermented vegetables or milk products, consuming these products may result in less gas and bloating, and reduce the risk of small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
How Are Foods Fermented?
Many fermented foods are made by adding a starter culture of bacteria to a food. Thus, yogurt and kefir are made when a culture is added to milk, while kombucha is made when a culture is added to a sweetened tea.
Fermented vegetables are created by shredding or cutting the vegetable into small pieces, which are then packed into an airtight container with some salt water.
There are lots of ideas for fermented foods. The first one we hesitantly recommend because of the dairy piece. If you try them and you know you are sensitive to dairy, you might want to start with the others we recommend.
Cultured Dairy Products
Even if you are lactose intolerant, you may be able to enjoy cultured dairy products as the bacteria within the products have already broken down the offending lactose.
These foods are a good option if you think you have a sensitivity to dairy products and come straight from our recipe guide on our wedsite:
- Coconut kefir
- Coconut yogurt
Note: Some fermented beverages contain trace amounts of alcohol. Read labels carefully so that you know what you are drinking. The following drinks can be found in most grocery stores these days.
There are a couple ways to skin the cat. Did saying that age me? For all of you under 40, it means there are several ways to do things. If this is new for you, buying some is MUCH MUCH easier than taking the time to make them yourselves. Some of my favorites fermented veggies to buy are Sauerkraut and Kimchi.
Remember this if you are buying sauerkraut. It is NOT the mushy cooked stuff in a can or bag on the shelf. It is raw, refrigerated, and fermented. My very favorite (and there are several out there) is Bubbies Sauerkraut!
Kimchi is a fermented dish that is an important part of a traditional Korean diet. Kimchi consists of a mix of a variety of vegetables and spices. Cabbage is typically a main ingredient, as is some fish. Here are some recipes for making kimchi:
If you are really brave and want to make your own we have a fermented veggie recipe for you. As with the recipe above, these come from our seasonal detox programs, and are a sneak peak into our Spring Ahead Detox coming in April.
You can choose to make your own or purchase fermented foods from stores that specialize in natural foods. Make sure to purchase products that are raw and unpasteurized, as the pasteurization process kills the very bacteria that you are seeking!
Typically, fermented foods are consumed with meals as a condiment. When adding fermented foods to your diet, start slowly to allow your body time to adjust. No need to rush – fermented foods can be stored in your refrigerator for six to eight months. Try a little spoonful every day and work your way up. I eat them every single day (usually best when consumed with lunch). You can eat them with salads, proteins, soups, sandwiches, and even as a side. I even have them with a handful of organic blue corn chips and some hummus as a snack. Its really yummy!
Do these all sound a little scary to you? Try them, you might like them and as you are eating them remember the benefits are tremendous. This is our #1Thing2016 for week five! Jump on board with us. Next week will be easy peasy!
Starting in March, we will be doing a once a month give-a-way coordinating with one of the topics we are blogging about. Check back with us and you may be one of our monthly winners.
Thanks for visiting our blog this week.
Peace and Love.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment rendered by a qualified medical professional. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing and always check with your doctor before making any dietary change or trying any over-the-counter product. The contents of this document was based on information available at the time.