OK, so what is the deal? Throughout history, fermenting of foods happened in many areas and was used as a way to preserve produce so it was available during different seasons.
Fine, but what is it? A process of fermentation has occurred (basically the natural bacteria feeds on sugar and starches) which creates lactic acid. This is what is actually doing the preserving, but the process also created beneficial enzymes, omega 3 fatty acids, plus various probiotics. Basically, all the stuff your gut loves & needs to keep it healthy. As a bonus, this fermentation also breaks food down so it’s more digestible whilst preserving the original nutrients.
Hmm, how does that benefit me?
- You absorb nutrients better – due to better digestion.
- Boosts your immune system because you’ve more good bacteria in your gut.
- Preserves food better. An example I have seen used previously is – salsa will only last a few days, but pickles will last a couple of months.
- Great skin, again due to that balance of good bacteria & healthy gut.
- Saves you dollars. You can add bits into your everyday diet, without breaking the bank. Whoo hoo!
- Great for mood. The link between gut and mood is amazing – there are quite a few people thinking how mind-boggling it is, so as there is loads of research being done on it.
Sounds great, what are some good options? How do I get hold of this uber-amazing stuff for my diet?
A fermented drink based on black tea and sugar. There are colonies of bacteria and yeast which start the fermentation process, when the sugar is added. It does however contain small amounts of alcohol. It’s been around awhile, but it’s currently gaining popularity again. I remember my Mum having a go at it in the 80s.
Probably one of the best-known fermented foods, with history in Germany, Russia and even China. It’s made from fermented cabbage. The name is actually German for “sour cabbage”. It is high in fibre; vitamins A, C, K & B, plus a great source of iron, copper, calcium and magnesium.
It is good to be aware that traditional sauerkraut needs to be refrigerated & is often in glass jars. The canned or processed kind is not fermented.
These have heaps of vitamins and minerals, plus antioxidants & some gut friendly probiotics.
Again, store bought are not usually fermented, generally they are just sitting in vinegar to make the pickles taste sour. Fermented pickles will have brine (AKA salt and water).
Traditional in Japan & best known for its use in miso soup. It is fermented soybeans, barley or brown rice, with koji (a type of fungus).
A traditional fermented Korean dish, made from vegetables such as cabbage, ginger, garlic, pepper and lots of chilli – a LOT of chilli. Pretty much served with any Korean food (think rice bowls or bibimbap).
Finally, what is probably the best-known probiotic, which most people eat regularly – yoghurt. When shopping for yoghurt look for whether the type of milk it’s based on (especially if cow’s milk is problematic), and go for organic where possible.
There are lots of options and lots of reasons to include at least one if not a few of these in your diet every day.
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