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The Power of Fermented Foods – Immune Boosting Part 2

Before we had refrigerators, canning machines and artificial preservatives, tribes and communities worldwide utilised a variety of food storing techniques such as fermentation. Many ancient civilisations have included at least one fermented food in their culinary heritage, from Korean kimchi to Indian chutneys to varieties of sauerkraut, yogurt and pickled vegetables. And with good reason. Recent studies show that the process of fermenting foods not only preserves food but enhances digestibility and increases nutrient values.

Better Digestion and Gut Function

Fermented foods are an excellent source of probiotics to colonise the gut with good bacteria. In fact, one study shows that one serving of fermented vegetables may contain 100 times more probiotics than the average probiotic supplement!

What’s so important about restoring the balance of friendly bacterial in your gut?

Well, good bacteria play a crucial role in making sure the cells that line your entire digestive tract are healthy, well-fed, and can withstand chemical or microorganism attacks. This can mean the alleviation of some digestive problems. For example, evidence suggests that probiotics can reduce uncomfortable symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome as well as other adverse gut symptoms.

A number of studies have shown that fermentation increases the digestibility of the food, lowering many anti-nutritional factors that can inhibit digestion. For example, fermentation of milk breaks down casein (milk protein), which can be a difficult protein to digest. This is why some people can tolerate yogurt and kefir easier than fresh milk.

Improved mental health and weight loss

You often hear people say, ‘I listened to my gut’ or ‘I had butterflies in my tummy’. That’s because our emotions can be influenced by the nerves in our gut (our enteric nervous system). So the balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria can have a significant influence on our moods, concentration levels and behaviours. This is being confirmed even more today within the growing field of nutritional psychiatry.

Improved gut health has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which has a direct correlation to weight loss – which we know can improve not just physical health but emotional health. Some studies have found direct links between certain probiotic strains (including Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri) and weight loss.

Boosts Immunity and Nutrition Levels

About 80% of our immune system is in the gut, and gut imbalance may disrupt immune responses, leading to chronic inflammation and autoimmune dysfunctions. Therefore, a healthy gut can adequately respond to bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms that can cause disease (also known as pathogens).

One of the biggest benefits of fermented foods is they are a vitamin powerhouse! Numerous studies have shown that fermenting foods can increase the levels of vitamins available within the food, such as vitamins A, C, D and K and certain B vitamins – all essential for our health and immunity.

Here are some examples of some delicious, high quality fermented foods with their health and nutritional benefits.

Types of Fermented Foods and Their Benefits

Kombucha – a fermented drink originating in Northeast China that is generally made from black tea, green tea and sugar (from various sources like cane sugar, fruit or honey). The sugar assists with the fermentation process along with the SCOBY, which is a mixed culture of bacteria and yeast. Following fermentation, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains B vitamins, enzymes and a high concentration of beneficial acids.

Sauerkraut – means ‘sour cabbage’ in German but is thought to have originated in China. Made from green or red cabbage that is stored in a jar with high quality sea salt, sauerkraut is high in a number of vitamins and minerals. Its high choline content can lower blood pressure and regulate the passage of nutrients in the blood.

Kimchi – a Korean cuisine considered a type of sauerkraut that is made from vegetables (predominately cabbage), ginger, garlic, spices and other seasoning.

It has similar health benefits to sauerkraut.

Pickles – fermented cucumbers that have been traced back to native India. They contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and gut-friendly probiotic bacteria. Most store-bought pickles are made with vinegar; however, fermented pickles should be made with cucumbers and brine (salt with water).

Kefir – a fermented milk product that tastes like a drinkable yogurt. Kefir may have been consumed for over 3,000 years, with the term ‘kefir’ starting in Russia or Turkey, which means ‘feeling good’. Kefir benefits include providing high levels of vitamin B12, vitamin K2, a number of minerals and enzymes.

Apple Cider Vinegar – has been consumed for thousands of years and was even used in ancient Greece by Hippocrates to treat a myriad of health ailments. It is made from apple cider (fresh pressed apples) that has undergone fermentation to form health promoting probiotics and enzymes.

How Much Fermented Foods Can I Eat?

All of the foods shared above can be made at home, purchased at a health food shop and are even now available in big supermarkets! We live at a time where we have so many readily available fermented foods. It is important to use the best quality organic ingredients as the beneficial bacteria need plenty of nutrients to do their work.

If you’ve never eaten fermented foods before, too large a portion may provoke an exacerbated healing reaction (such as gut pain and excessive wind). Probiotics may kill off pathogens in your gut and when these pathogens die, they release potent toxins. If you’ve never had fermented foods in your life, it is best to start gradually and carefully. Try as little as one teaspoon and build up to one tablespoon with each meal.

Fermented foods are generally not meant to be eaten in large quantities but as condiments. They go beautifully with meats, fish and all sorts of legumes and grains. We hope you enjoy!

References

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/12/dr-campbell-mcbride-on-gaps.aspx

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453019301053#sec0010

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29460487

Fallon, S and Enig, M (2001) “Nourishing Traditions”, NewTrends Publishing Inc, Washington DC

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24299712

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23614897

13 Fermented Foods for a Healthy Gut and Overall Health

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/04/28/306544406/got-gas-it-could-mean-you-ve-got-healthy-gut-microbes

 

Author: Mark Varitimos

Editor: Wendy and Words 

 

Cameron Corish

Cameron Corish has been caring and achieving results for the local Wishart, Mansfield and Mt Gravatt community for over 10 years. Together with the Core Health Coaching Team, he takes a multi-disciplined and holistic approach to health and fitness addressing the physical, mental and emotional aspects of one’s health.  

Ready to feel and look your best?  Book a time for a FREE chat and see how we can make a difference in your life at calendly.com/corehealthcoaching or email Cameron at cameron@corehealthcoaching.com.au

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