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What is Gut Bacteria?
Bacteria line our intestines and help us digest food. During digestion, they make vitamins that are vital for life, send signals to the immune system, and make small molecules that can help our brains work.
“Without gut bacteria, we wouldn’t be anything. They are a critical part of us and essential to our health,” says Michael Snyder (Director of Stanford University’s Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine).
Ongoing research reveals that people with certain diseases often have a very different mix of bacteria in their intestines compared to healthier people.
A healthy balance of the bacteria in our gut governs the functioning of many systems including the immune system and metabolism. It plays a critical role in our mood and brain function – and helps us maintain our body size.
The health of the gut is central to every aspect of health. It is through our digestive system that we absorb all of the goodness from our food, a process that is essential for life. Yet today, many people suffer with an array of gut-based illnesses or dysfunction, which can have a broad-reaching impact on many other areas of our health.
Fermented foods are like a big hug for your gut and a wonderfully nourishing addition to your diet, whether you have experienced gut dysfunction or not. Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugars and starches in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food and produces beneficial enzymes, B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and are a source of probiotics.
The fermentation of foods may also preserve the nutrient content of the food and assist in making the food easier to digest. It’s this along with the probiotics created during the fermentation process that explains the link between consumption of fermented foods and improved digestion.
What Kind Of Fermented Foods Are There?
Kefir – Kefir grains can be prepared with both a water or milk base depending on preference.
Sauerkraut – probably the most cost-effective and delicious fermented food, this fermented cabbage dish is easy to prepare at home.
Homemade pickles – pickles preserved in apple cider vinegar offer a great digestive boost.
Coconut yoghurt – a delicious and great way to get plenty of enzymes and probiotics.
Miso – miso is made from fermented soybeans and grains and is a good source of essential minerals like potassium.
Why Eat Fermented Foods?
Besides the fact that they generally taste delicious, there are a number of reasons they’re great for your health and a nourishing inclusion to your diet.
Probiotics – fermented foods such as those above will introduce beneficial bacteria into your digestive system and help the balance of bacteria in your gut. Probiotics may help improve bowel health, aid digestion, and support immune system function.
Enhance absorption – having a good balance of gut bacteria and enough digestive enzymes, helps you absorb more of the nutrients in the foods you eat. Pair this with a diet rich in real food and you can absorb many more nutrients from the foods you eat.
Cost effective – incorporating bought fermented foods into your diet can be costly, however many fermented foods can easily be made at home and are an extremely cost-effective way to boost your gut health.