Fermented foods are nothing new; we’ve been using them in our diets for centuries. You’re probably heard of sauerkraut, maybe kefir or even kim chee (kimchi). However these days the traditional methods of making these foods for commercial use have been ignored and we can only find them made with vinegar rather than by using the lacto-fermentation methods of old. Beer, wine and cheeses are being pasteurised, which kills off all of the good bacteria so necessary for gut health and beyond.
Lacto-fermentation was developed long before refrigeration as a means of preserving food from harvest time through the winter months. It had the added benefit of increasing the nutritional value of certain foods and keeping the gut healthy.
The modern diet, even for those of us that try and ‘eat healthy’, is made up of processed and heavily refined foods. These foods damage the villi (little finger like projections that line the gut that absorb the nutrients), kill off the beneficial bacteria and feed the bad bacteria. They leave the intestinal wall damaged and inflamed so unable to efficiently absorb nutrients. This has so many negative health consequences.
Eating fermented foods can however actually heal the gut by repopulating it with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria and providing a proper pH balance. These raw, fermented foods are also rich in enzymes. Our bodies need enzymes to properly digest, absorb and make full use of the food we eat. As we age, our bodies supply of enzymes decreases. Scientists have hypothesized that if we could guard against enzyme depletion, we could live longer, healthier lives. Adding fermented foods to our diets helps.
If you suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, candida, constipation, chronic flatulence and allergies, fermented foods can play a key role in healing and recovery. The lactic acid bacteria produced during fermentation enhance both gastrointestinal and systemic immunity, which helps keep us healthier and better able to fight infection.
Fermenting and culturing your own food is cheap and easy. Take sauerkraut for example, all you need is cabbage and sea salt. I do however recommend using a starter culture when eating these foods for gut health so we know it’s the good bugs we are fermenting with.
I will be writing more about fermenting foods over the next few months as I increase my knowledge of natural gut healing foods.