Want more energy, better digestion, and a razor-sharp mind that can solve the day’s crossword puzzle or Wordle?
Fermented foods can help. Here’s how.
Virtually, every early society ate and enjoyed fermented foods.
With the advent of industrialized food processes, many of these foods were abandoned. Those that remain are now made using vinegar and high-heat processing. These modern foods lack the powerful probiotics and beneficial enzymes produced during traditional fermentation.
What are fermented foods?
Crunchy pickles, tangy sauerkraut, chewy sourdough bread, bubbly kombucha, and creamy yogurt are all examples of foods our great ancestors preserved naturally through the process of fermentation.
Microscopic bacteria found in the air, the soil, and clinging to vegetables grown in the soil, when given the right conditions, convert the sugars and carbohydrates in the vegetables into acids to naturally preserve them. This transformation turns them into foods full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotics to help you maintain robust gut health.
Benefits of Fermented Foods
Consuming fermented foods on a regular basis helps maintain the integrity of the gut lining, which is essential for healthy digestion, brain health, and a strong immune system.
As we age, our stomach produces fewer digestive enzymes, particularly hydrochloric acid causing an imbalance in the gut that can result in constipation, diarrhea, even heartburn.
Fermented foods, rich in lactic-acid-producing bacteria, help balance the production of stomach acid. When its production is low, fermented foods increase the acidity of digestive juices. When your stomach produces too much acid, fermented foods work to protect the stomach and intestinal lining.
Strong Immune System
Many people, including many physicians, do not realize that 70–80% of the cells that make up your immune system are found in the walls of your gut. The consumption of fermented foods supports the health of this gut lining and prevents disease-causing bacteria from taking hold.
Your gut microbiome, aka, your “second brain,” as scientists call it
is responsible for the production of most of your serotonin (the master happiness molecule), GABA (an amino acid that calms nerve activity), and glutamate (a neurotransmitter involved in cognition, learning, and memory).
Now you can see how fermented foods can support a sharp mind!
Three Fermented Foods That You Can Easily Add to Your Diet
The key to successfully adding fermented foods to your diet is to start slow and keep portions small. This gives your gut time to adjust to the influx of beneficial bacteria.
Sauerkraut & Kimchi
Sauerkraut is a popular condiment, most famous as a topping on hot dogs. Kimchi is a style of sauerkraut, made with ginger, garlic, onions, radish, and spicy red pepper.
Tips for buying sauerkraut or kimchi:
- Look in the refrigerated section.
- It should be sold in a jar or pouch, not a can.
- The label should include the words “unpasteurized” or “raw.”
- Ingredients should be only cabbage, salt, and other vegetables. No vinegar.
To ensure you are getting The Right Stuff when you shop grab this free guide. Sauerkraut Shopping Guide [Buy the Right Stuff].
Yogurt is a popular, well-known fermented milk product made from cow’s milk, as well as goat’s milk and sheep’s milk.
Tips for buying yogurt:
- The label should list various live or living bacteria, or culture strains.
- Avoid yogurts that contain harmful additives, such as high fructose corn syrup, colorings, preservatives, thickeners, or powdered milk.
- Fruit yogurts tend to be high in sugar. Buy plain and add your own fruit.
Kombucha, a fermented tea, is all the rage now and easily found in most grocery stores.
Tips for buying kombucha:
- Look in the refrigerated section.
- The label should indicate that it is “raw” or “unpasteurized.”
So now you know!
These are just a few of the reasons to include fermented foods in your daily diet. And making these foods at home is easier than you think.
As a home fermenter, you will be guaranteed to have a raw, probiotic rich version of your favorite kraut or pickle.
Click Here for a treasure trove of recipes, answers to DIY fermenting questions, and best products to use when getting your fermentation on.
About Our Guest Author:
Holly Howe is a grade school teacher turned fermentation educator and founder of the popular makesauerkraut.com website. MakeSauerkraut! Has everything you need to know to successfully ferment sauerkraut and other fermented foods that you and your loved ones will enjoy eating. REALLY!