8 Awesome Reasons to Eat Fermented Foods
Wondering what all the hype is about when it comes to fermented food and drinks? In this post we take a look at 8 of the top reasons why you should include fermented foods into your diet today!
After fading into the background for a generation, fermented foods are once again becoming popular. And the reason for this is largely due to their exciting health benefits.
Before chemical preservatives, people used fermentation largely as a preservative method. During fermentation a certain set of beneficial microbes proliferate and protect the food or drink from other microbes which facilitate decay and spoilage. As it turns out, these beneficial microbes are what we know today as probiotics.
Besides being a vital part of most fermentation processes, these probiotic microbes are also indigenous to our digestive tracts. Without them we cannot digest our food properly!
Drugs such as antibiotics and things like stress and the contraceptive pill can lower the numbers of these vital microbes and thereby impact overall health and vitality. Nowadays one can buy probiotic supplements over the counter, and doctors often prescribed them along with courses of antibiotics. Probiotics are however usually quite expensive, and it is possible for one to get the same results from fermented foods!
Topping up your digestive tract microflora on a daily basis is one of the best ways to ensure good overall health and efficient functioning of the body. The individual areas and ways in which fermented foods can help the body reach or maintain a good level of health are pretty exciting. These are 8 of the top most awesome ways in which fermented foods can boost the body and ramp up health. Enjoy!
# 1 Best Way to Boost Gut Health (and Why this is so Important)
As mentioned above, probiotics have become widely prescribed by doctors and health specialists. The reason for this is that research is revealing how important good levels of probiotics are to overall health. It is also becoming apparent that there are numerous lifestyle hazards which many of us come into contact with on a daily basis which impact the levels of probiotics present within our bodies.
Why Probiotics are So Important for the Gut
Fermented foods are literally crawling with probiotics, and they are one of the cheapest and surest ways of keeping your probiotic levels high. Probiotics are responsible for most areas of gut health. They are the go-betweens between the food we eat and our bodies. Carrying out the job of middle men, they do a lot of the work associated with the gut’s functioning.
Without enough probiotic bacteria within our digestive system, we are not able to absorb nutrition properly, or to eliminate toxins. These two functions are absolutely vital in maintaining good health and avoiding disease.
Why We are Sometimes Deficient in Probiotics
Probiotic microbes are naturally occurring in our digestive systems. Once established, they maintain colonies of themselves and are self regulating. Modern day living however contains a number of elements which can kill off large numbers of probiotic bacteria within us. These include:
- Oral contraceptives
- Artificial sweeteners
- Chlorinated water
- Chemical additives in food
- Pesticide residues on food
- Genetically modified organisms
Deficiencies in probiotic bacteria can lead to food allergies, malnutrition, general digestive disorders, Candida overgrowth, a weakened immune system, toxic build ups and even depression (more on that in Reason # 8!).
Because probiotics play such a key role in good health, it is best to boost them before one develops deficiency related issues such as the above. While you can do this by taking a daily probiotic pill, probiotics in pill form can be costly. Fermented products have been shown to be as effective (if not more) at re colonising the gut with friendly bacteria. They are very affordable, nutritious, and you can even make them at home!
# 2 Can Dramatically Boost Immune Function
As you can see, probiotic bacteria play a massive role in digestion and healthy gut functioning. But did you know that they also form the majority of our immune systems? Probiotic bacteria make up 80% of our immune systems.
While this can sound crazy, a quick look at how probiotic bacteria protect the body and it starts to make a lot of sense.
Why Probiotic Bacteria Make Up Part of the Immune System
In a healthy digestive system, beneficial bacteria line the walls of the tract fully. The presence of these organisms make it difficult for pathogens to take up residence. They literally crowd out any invasive pathogens, and make sure that there is no space for them to take hold. The probiotic bacteria also actively fight against pathogens.
Most pathogenic organisms enter the body through the nose or mouth. For example a cold will usually start off with symptoms of a sore throat. If the probiotic bacteria are present in sufficient numbers they can make it very difficult for pathogens to set up shop. Strong colonies of probiotic bacteria can even protect one from Salmonella poisoning !
# 3 Can Guard Against Imbalances in Gut flora (such as Candida)
Eating a fermented product regularly can help to insure that the bacteria within your gut all stay at their proper proportions. Sometimes what can happen is that if a certain set of good bacteria die off or decrease, another set can begin to dominate and throw things out.
If you know much about candida you will have probably heard that Candida albicans is one of the very bacteria which make up the gut flora. However, if it overgrows its self and begins to take over the digestive tract, it can cause severe problems. Having a candida overgrowth can cause a myriad of spin off health issues such as toxin overload, sugar cravings, headaches, weight gain, skin problems, chronic fatigue, depression, brain fog, and of course digestive issues.
If you supplement your diet with a source of probiotics, you will be making sure that the walls of your digestive tract are lined with the right bacteria in the right ratios. This will help to keep candida at is appropriate numbers.
If you are interested in reading more about the relationship between Candida and fermented foods, you can take a look at Will Drinking Kombucha Help My Candida Or Make It Worse?.
# 4 The Sugar Content of Your Food is Naturally Lower
Most fermented products have a sour or tart taste. The reason for this is that during fermentation, the sugars present are converted into natural acids. The sugar acts as a fuel or food for the probiotic microbes, and the natural acids are their waste product. This poses two benefits. One, the natural acids are beneficial and health promoting for us. And two, this means that there are less sugars present!
# 5 Fermented Foods Are Rich in Vitamin K
Fermented foods can act as a great source of vitamin K. Vitamin K cannot be not stored in the body, therefore it is important that one’s diet yields up enough of it on a daily basis to support the functions which require it.
Vitamin K1 and K2 and often overlooked but play a wide reaching role in the body. Research has now revealed that vitamin k2 can even act as a preventative towards cancer! Besides this benefits, vitamin k is also required for the following:
- Heart health
- Healthy skin
- Strong bones
- Brain functioning
- All growth and development
Although not as well loved as vitamin C and other well known vitamins, the two vitamin K’s play a pretty vital role in the body. And seeing as we cannot store or produce either of them, getting vitamin K1 and 2 along with our favorite fermented food is a wonderful bonus.
# 6 Fermented Foods Assists the Body to Eliminate Toxins
Fermented foods are said to be some of the most powerful detoxifiers. The reason for this is that the probiotic bacteria can actually grab hold of heavy metals and toxins, and lock onto them until they’re removed through the stool. Heavy metals and toxins which originated from chemical sources, such as pesticides and herbicides, are very difficult for the body to eliminate. They can build up for years, if one’s system is not strong enough to dispel them.
Heavy metal and toxin build up can cause or encourage many forms of disease and health problems. Some of these are cancer, alzheimers, autoimmune disease, diabetes, autism, chronic fatigue, ADD, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, thyroid disease, depression and inflammatory bowel disease.
This makes the ability of fermented products to assist in the elimination of these toxins and metals infinitely valuable.
# 7 Fermented Foods are Better than Probiotic Supplements
As you can see, the probiotic bacteria which fermented foods contain are responsible for doing a lot of good within the body! The majority of the most notable health benefits of fermented foods are thanks to the probiotic bacteria which they contain.
Nowadays one can purchase probiotic supplements over the counter. These are generically assumed to be the most effective and potent. However, a lab test sent in by Dr Mercola proves that this could not be more false. According to the results of his test, one tablespoon of sauerkraut contains more probiotics than an entire bottle of probiotic tablets.
Taking into account that fermented foods are very cheap to buy (and even cheaper to make!) compared to probiotic supplements, fermented foods definitely stack up as the superior source of live gut flora.
# 8 Fermented Foods can Boost Your Brain
Recently, science has established a link between active and healthy gut flora, and brain and emotional health. The link is that probiotic microbes produce neurochemicals. Neurochemicals are, in layman’s terms, brain chemicals. These chemicals are responsible for how signals are transmitted through our brain. Because of this they have a huge influence on proper brain function and mood regulation.
What happens is that the probiotic bacteria produce neurochemicals in response to triggers which they receive. These chemicals are absorbed out of the digestive system and into the bloodstream. The blood carries them to the brain and they are used in the daily firing of our thinking machine.
For example, where is serotonin made? In the brain? No, not really. 90% of all serotonin is produced in the gut! Serotonin is a neurochemical which is known world over to induce good moods and feelings of well being. It also has a few other counterparts which together regulate all neural functioning.
So, for a good mood and effective thinking, you need those gut colonies to be thriving. : ) And eating fermented foods is a perfect way to do this.
As you can see, humble fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and other old fashioned pickles have some far reaching health benefits. In fact, the more you look into it, the more reasons there are to start eating fermented foods. If you are interested in choosing a fermented product to incorporate into your diet, you can check out 10 Must Eat Fermented Foods For a Healthy Gut.
The core component of fermented foods is their probiotic value. Probiotics are required by the gut to keep the body functioning at its peak. They do this by amping up nutrient availability, protecting the body from invasion by pathogens and disease, relieving the body of hard to expel toxins, and by supporting brain function and optimum mood levels.
Fermented foods have been shown to be a more concentrated from of probiotics than over the counter probiotic supplements. They are also a lot cheaper.
If you choose to make your own fermentation, then you will be getting some serious value. Making fermented food at home is a cheap and easy practice – and as you can see the rewards are multiple fold!
If you are interested in making fermented foods and drinks you can have a look at our guides sections, or simply check out these links below.
1 The Ultimate Guide How to Make Yoghurt at Home
2 How To Make Kombucha
3 How to Make Kefir: The Ultimate Guide
4 How to Make Water Kefir: The Ultimate Guide
5 How To Make Fermented (Cultured) Vegetables
6 How to Make Homemade Buttermilk
7 How to Make Homemade Ginger Beer
8 How to Make a Real Root Beer
9 How to Make Rejuvelac
10 How to Make Kvass