If you’ve been following Changing Habits for a while you’ll already know that we love fermented foods. There is a really good reason for this. Did you know that we are more microbial than human?
There are 10x more microbes in our bodies than there are human cells and the most important factor that determines our gut health (and thus our overall health) is our gut microbiome (AKA gut flora). Our gut microbiome promotes a normal gastrointestinal function, regulates our metabolism, nutrient absorption, houses 80% of our immune system, 70% of dopamine (adrenaline) and 90% of serotonin are produced in our guts. Pretty amazing isn’t it, and that’s only just touching the surface!
However, there are many aspects of our modern life and industrialised world that are harming our gut health. These include; herbicides, pesticides, preservatives in our food supply and antibiotics that have been regularly prescribed, stress, fluoridated water, processed and refined foods, environmental toxins and much more. Good bacteria within our gut flora are absolutely essential for optimal health.
If our gut flora is compromised, undigested proteins, harmful bacteria and other toxins pass through into our bloodstream. The body revs up our immune system to create antibodies against these proteins which are seen as foreign invaders and unfortunately this can lead to a number of cascading health problems.
How to keep your gut microbiome happy
So if you’ve been exposed to some of these factors, there are steps you can take to begin restoring your gut flora.
To avoid further damage, firstly we need to heal the gut with nutrition. The best way to start is to remove all food toxins in your diet and go back to old traditions such as; making chicken soups, slow cooked meals, broths, stews and stocks. They’re great gut healers and so incredibly nutritious for our bodies.
The second step is to begin re-plenishing the beneficial gut flora with naturally fermented foods as they are one of the most potent and effective sources of probiotics.
What exactly are fermented foods?
Purposeful fermentation or culturing (think yoghurt, crème fraiche, pickles, kim-chi and sauerkraut) involves food being exposed to bacteria and/or yeast which eat up all the carbohydrates (sugars) in the food after being left at room temperature for a period of time to allow the beneficial flora to reproduce.
Fermenting foods changes the texture and flavour of food and gives it an effervescent or tangy taste. This culturing process breaks down certain elements in the food that can be difficult to digest and increases the bio-availability of vitamins and minerals and also aids digestion. This is why it’s a great idea to eat some form of fermented food with every meal.
Other health benefits of fermented foods include:
- Rich in probiotics, vitamins and minerals
- Activates beneficial enzymes which improves digestion and digestibility
- Helps to restore and balance gut flora and health
- Increases Vitamin A & C levels
- Increased energy from Vitamin B12 production
- Helps to destroy candida
- Helps remove toxins from the body
- Has cancer fighting properties
- Eliminates anti-nutrients
- Supports immunity
- Budget friendly.
Happy changing habits.
Changing Habits Nutritionist