Pass the kombucha!
Have you been wondering why there is so much buzz about fermented food and drinks these days? Perhaps you follow our social media posts and are curious why we changed our nutrition recommendations to include fermented products into your daily plan?
One of our members said to me just the other day, "Wow I read an article about immune health during Covid and how important it was to include fermented products into your daily nutrition for your immune health and I also remember you guys talking about it. I started including it into my daily intake and WHAT a big difference in the way I feel; I'm a believer!"
Let's Step Back in Time for A Second
In 400 BC, Hippocrates famously said, “All disease begins in the gut.” His words are even more true today than they were then. As the largest mucosal organ of the body, the gut plays a central role in maintaining the immune system. The intestinal lining functions as the bouncer at the door, deciding what’s allowed to pass through into the bloodstream. The characters lobbying for access range from essential nutrients to dangerous pathogens and toxins. And in order for the door to run smoothly, the gut ecosystem must be healthy.
It wasn’t until the last decade that we realized 90% of the cells in the human body are microbial (isn't that crazy?!). This means, in essence, we are more bacterial than anything else! But if these numbers have you reaching for your hand sanitizer, stand down. The majority of these bugs are fairly neutral, and many are actually working for us.
How does it all work?
Every day we swallow pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria. Don't worry, the good news is we don’t always get sick because our tiny microscopic helpers take care of us! Good bacteria create acidic fermentation byproducts that lowers our intestine’s pH, decreasing the chance that bad bacteria can survive. They also compete for food supply and squatting rights on our intestinal lining. Plus, they secrete antimicrobial proteins that kill off bad bacteria. WIN!
Good bacteria are to thank for synthesizing, or producing, many vitamins your body needs. That list includes vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 and K. Research shows a less diverse gut microbiota is associated with many chronic disease, such as obesity, asthma and chronic inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. The research is still ongoing into why this is the case.
Have you ever been told to have yogurt or take probiotics when taking antibiotics and wondered why? It's common to have stomach issues (nasty ones like diarrhea) after taking antibiotics. That’s because those little pills wipe out BOTH good and bad bacteria. Eating fermented foods helps to restore your gut bacteria to normal, hence the recommendation.
During Covid you might have been more keen and interested to read about immune health. Perhaps you read about taking supplements that claim to boost your immune system. Here is what we recommend; the food you eat has a big impact on the range and type of microbes in the gut. A diverse microbiome is a healthy microbiome, containing many different species that each play their part in immunity and health. Eat a diet high in fiber and plant-based foods; which gut microbes love! ***It's important to note that microbiome diversity declines as we get older, which may help to explain some of the age-related changes we see in immune responses, so it’s even more necessary to maintain a healthy microbiome throughout life.
Here's the Skinny on Why you Should Add Fermented Food & Drinks into your life!
When the protective lining of the gut is inflamed, the body is more vulnerable to allergies, infections, and yeast overgrowth aka a world of hurt for your stomach! Lactic acid bacteria have the ability to reduce intestinal permeability, thereby restoring the net. They also create pH changes in the GI tract that make it difficult for pathogens to survive.
Digest Like a Champ
Raw cultured vegetables are essentially pre-digested, meaning that the bacteria have broken down the naturally occurring sugars in the vegetables, so that you don’t have to. The enzymes in fermented vegetables also assist in digesting foods eaten along with them, particularly grains, legumes, and meat.
Boost your Vitamin Intake
The fermentation process makes nutrients more bio-available for the body to absorb. For example, the amount of vitamin C in sauerkraut is significantly higher than in the same serving of fresh cabbage. Why? It is because the vitamin C in fresh cabbage is woven into the fibrous plant walls, so it’s less readily available for the intestinal cells to take in. The same goes for rice and legumes, which have significantly enhanced B vitamins post-fermentation. In wheat-based products, like sourdough, fermentation has been shown to degrade gluten, making it less inflammatory.
Ditch the sugar cravings & decrease inflammation
Yeast and pathogenic (bad) bacteria feed off sugar. The more sugar you ingest, the more hospitable you’re making your intestines for harmful microbes. This creates a bad cycle:
eat sugar ==>increase the “bad” bacteria you have ==> crave more sugar.
Don't worry, the REVERSE is true!
Eat less sugar ==> decrease "bad" bacteria ==> don't crave sugar
Manage your weight better
Emerging research suggests gut microbes also affect hormones that regulate our metabolism- leptin, in particular. In addition to influencing our thirst for sugar, bad bacteria may also make it more difficult for some people to feel full, leading to overeating and subsequent weight gain.
My Favourite Ferments!
Here is a list of some of my favs and a larger list of other fermented foods to try - enjoy!
Dill & Garlic Sauerkraut from Pyramid Ferments. I'm a huge fan of this sauerkraut especially on top of salads - YUM!
GTS Tumeric Kombucha - SO GOOD, but definitely an acquired taste! I recommend starting with the gingerade flavour if you want to start slow
Homemade Yogurt! Truth me told our friend Scott makes us delicious yogurt, which we call 'Scogurt' (he's not a big fan of that name...). This is how he makes it - How to make yogurt in the instant pot
And some additional ideas to get your started:kimchi, keifer, tempeh, select cheese, miso (just to mention a few).