The Fizzing Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

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Can a fermented elixir called kombucha, made from tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast, and rich in probiotics (bacteria beneficial to your gut’s function) claim its own turf amidst the fruit juices and bottled beverages in your market’s cold case?

It’s already happened. Naturally fermented foods, ancient staples in many cultures, are making a huge comeback today. This surge in interest has as much to do with our growing taste for fermentation as it does the mounting body of scientific evidence pointing to the importance of probiotics. Even those foods, like sauerkraut and miso, considered an “acquired taste” are hot items. 

So what’s all the fizz...and fuss...about? Well, turns out the probiotics provided in fermented foods are a big deal. As explained in an article in WellnessMama:

Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food, creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.”

 We have billions of good bacteria living in our gut. Not just a few million. Billions. It might sound like something out of a sci-fi movie but these mighty microbes are an incredibly important part of our body, playing their role in preventing or curing a plethora of ills concerning digestion, as well as boosting the immune system and protecting the body from disease in general.

Recent research also finds that probiotics (such as those found in certain naturally fermented foods) have an affect on our minds as well. An article for NPR explains...

... the connections between brain regions differed depending on which species of bacteria dominated a person's gut. That suggests that the specific mix of microbes in our guts might help determine what kinds of brains we have — how our brain circuits develop and how they're wired.”

While all of this is great news for those of us already consciously intent on incorporating probiotics into our everyday diet, but the amount of probiotics the average american consumes has STILL declined sharply over the past several decades. As raw milk and yogurt have become pasteurized, and once lacto-fermented pickles and sauerkraut have been replaced with vinegar-cured imposters, our health as a nation may in fact be suffering the consequences.

Here’s a list of fabulous fermented foods packed full of probiotics. Give them a try and we have a feeling your gut will thank you.

Plain yogurt

Kefir

Kimchi

Sauerkraut (look for labeling that indicates the presence of a living culture)

Tempeh

Miso

Kombucha

 

Sources:

 Read all articles by Juniper Briggs
 

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