Fermented foods smell weird, but they definitely bring a lot to the table. They’ve been around for yonks as it’s an ancient way of preserving food. Fermented foods a chocka-block full of bugs a.k.a good bacteria which live in our gut working hard to make us well.
We actually contain more bacteria in the human body then single cells! This is kinda gross, but demonstrates the importance of good bacteria and their vast and systemic function within the body.
Why are these bugs good for us? Well they…
- Train and boost the immune system
- Manufacture vitamins
- Make the gut an inhospitable place for bad bacteria
- Balance stomach acid and other secretions
- Reduce inflammation
- Alkalise the body
Fermented foods and the gut
Those people with digestive upsets and problems will benefit enormously from the addition of fermented foods. I have written about Leaky gut HERE and the importance of probiotics in this condition as well as featured Pat’s Veg HERE with even more information about these little beneficial bugs.
Where do I get this stuff?
Generally speaking, purchasing sauerkraut and other cultured foods from the supermarket are heavily processed, contain additional unneeded ingredients, can be pressurized or treated with heat destroying the enzymes and probiotics. Buying your fermented foods from a quality health food store, where the products are stored in the fridge means you are getting the real thing.
Better yet, make the foods yourself! It is extremely cost effective to make this foods at home. It will take a little bit to get used to, and you may make a few mistakes but there is so much information online which can help and direct you to make the perfect ferments!
So what are cultured foods? Here is a list to explain different types:
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage and is easily made with just salt, or you can use a lacto-fermentation method by adding a little yogurt whey. CLICK HERE for an easy tutorial.
Kimchi is very similar to sauerkraut but may contain different types of vegetables and seasonings.
Milk Kefir is a cultured dairy product similar to yogurt but contains more strains of friendly bacteria. It is made with kefir grains or a powdered kefir starter culture and any whole milk either cows or goat milk. The probiotics feed off the lactose in the milk meaning it can be tolerated by people that find it hard to digest dairy.
Water Kefir is made similar to milk kefir with a scoby of granules. Sugar is dissolved into the water or coconut water and the yeast and bacteria feed off this to create a probiotic rich drink. Click here for a tutorial on how to make your own.
Kombucha is the product of a very specific culture. The culture is a spongy, slightly slimy disc that is sometimes called the mother or skoby. The culture ferments a mixture of black or green tea and sugar into a tart, slighty fizzy drink that is packed full of 4-7 different microorganisms all at once. Don’t worry about the added sugar, this is what the probiotics feed off to grow and multiply and you are generally left with 1% sugar in the whole solution. Click here for a helpful tutorial.
Soy Products including tempeh, tamari, and miso paste . All soy products MUST be purchased organic as soy is often a GM crop (genetically modified).
Yoghurt is milk that has been cultured with strains of bacteria, usually lactobacillus. It is a fermented food that holds the same level of protein and fat as the milk from which it is produced. Ensure you are buying organic, whole, FULL fat yoghurt.
Sourdough bread is fermented with the help of wild yeasts, flour and water to make bread that will create bubbles to cause it to rise, and give the bread a characteristic sour taste.
Fermented cheese from both soft and hard cheeses are produced by culturing milk for an extended period of time.
Vinegar such as apple cider vinegar. Look for the cloudy sediments at the bottom on the bottle to ensure that it has been properly fermented. Braggs and Melrose both have great unfiltered and raw apple cider vinegar.
Best yet you are not limited to the list above. You can ferment almost anything! make up your own vegetable ferment mixes with different flavours or have a search online and don’t be scared to experiment.
Do you ferment your own vegetables or other concoctions? Leave a comment below, I’d love to learn more from you!