““With every mouthful of sauerkraut you’re consuming billions of beneficial microbes which will be killing the pathogens in your gut driving them out and replenishing the beneficial flora in your digestive tract.” Dr Natasha Campbell McBride
Fermented foods are the ultimate in functional foods providing your body with a hit of good gut flora which is in line with my strategy of supplementing with food rather than synthetic supplements wherever possible.
When we look back in time and within cultures it is interesting to note that most cultures include a type of fermented food in their diet and have been doing so for many years. In Japan it is natto and miso; Russia: sauerkraut; Turkey: kefir; Italy: sourdough; Greece: yoghurt; Korea: kimchi; Finland: fermented fish. Sadly, our time poor society and the commercialisation of food production has resulted in the disappearance of many of these time-honoured food practices. Luckily they are starting to make a come back.
Why should you include fermented foods in your diet?
Health-Thy Gut: Most of us have a degree of damaged gut flora, which is compromised as a result of multiple courses of antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Voltaren, Nurofen), long term medication, the oral contraceptive pill and exposure to mercury and other heavy metals. Fermented foods enable us to restore the balance of good bacteria in the gut and health the gut lining. This may assist in managing symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome, auto-immune disease, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis and immune weakness.
More Potent Than Probiotics: Sauerkraut tops the charts when it comes to potency of probiotics, surpassing that of over-the -counter probiotics purchased. A recent lab analysis of sauerkraut found that in a 120-180 g serving of the fermented vegetables there were literally ten trillion bacteria. That means 60 grams of sauerkaut had more probiotics than a bottle of 100 count probiotic capsules. Translated this means one 480 g jar of sauerkraut is equal to 8 bottles of probiotics.
Digestion & Absorption: The process of fermentation breaks down food components which in their non-fermented state may be hard to digest or detrimental to health. For instance, fermenting lactose digests the sugar found in it and reduces its carbohydrate content. Fermenting soy in the process of making tempeh removes high levels of phytic acid which block nutrient absorption.
Vitamin K2: Vitamin K2 is an underrated and misunderstood vitamin and is hard to find in non-animal food sources. Sauerkraut, tempeh and natto are high in this vitamin which assists in promoting cardiovascular, bone and prostate health.
Detoxification: Fermented foods are some of the best chelators available. The beneficial bacteria in these foods are very potent detoxifiers, capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals.
There’s a myriad of fermented foods you can try including fermented veggies, tempeh, natto, olives, sauerkraut. My only word of caution is that you introduce fermented veggies slowly into your diet and avoid fermented foods which are processed and/or high in sugar.