Fermented Foods To Foster A Healthy Gut
As the influence of social media continues to increase, and rates of obesity and diabetes continue to rise, so to does our exposure to all things nutrition. With so much information out there (and so little of it being credible and based on scientific evidence), it’s difficult to know what dietary recommendations to take on board, and what to completely disregard.
Consuming fermented foods is a trend that has recently taken off, but is a method of preserving and preparing food that has been around for a very long time. And so far, the science suggests this one is a trend worth following.
So what is fermentation?
Fermentation is the breakdown of carbohydrates by bacteria or the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide by bacteria. It is an anaerobic process, which means it occurs without oxygen.
Lactobacillus bacteria is a type of bacteria present on the surface of plant foods. It causes fruits and vegetables to breakdown, and converts plant carbohydrates into lactic acid. Lactic acid encourages beneficial bacterial growth in the intestine and these bacteria are referred to as probiotics.
Probiotics, when consumed in adequate amounts can be beneficial to health, especially digestive health. Some of the known benefits of probiotic consumption include;
- Reduced blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Reduced inflammation in the gut
- Beneficial bacteria to help fight infection and
- Facilitation of food breakdown due to enzymes
This doesn’t mean that you should throw anything and everything labelled “fermented” into your shopping trolley.
There is good evidence to support the health benefit claims of some fermented products, including sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir. These are great sources of probiotics and adequate and regular consumption may improve overall gut health and function. However, there have been limited clinical trials on some of the other highly popular fermented foods and in particular, drinks. So as with everything diet related, balance is key.
If you enjoy the unique, tangy, bitey and sometimes bitter flavours of these products, add a few serves to your diet each week. These products can be found in most supermarkets and health foods stores and if you’re super keen, you can have a go at making one yourself!
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