As a health coach, I am often asked, “What are some simple ways to improve my overall health?” One of my favorite answers is fermented foods! Fermented foods are nutrient dense, healing to the gut, fairly easy to make and can really make a difference in giving your health a boost.
You may be wondering “what the heck are fermented foods?” Fermented foods are foods that have been through the lactofermentation process in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food, which creates lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics. Not only does it preserve the nutrients and contain naturally occurring probiotics but it also makes the food more easily digestible, which is great for your gut health.
While fermented foods used to be very commonplace in many societies, our modern convenience diet is often very lacking in fermented foods. In fact, many people would consider them “gross” because they taste and smell very differently than the packaged, processed fast foods that many Americans are accustomed to eating.
So what are some of the benefits of eating fermented foods, you may ask. Let me break it down.
- Easily digestible: Due to overall unhealthy diets, many people have compromised digestive systems. When your body is being forced to break down foreign chemicals, preservatives and difficult to digest foods on a regular basis, your gut pays the price. Fermented foods are already in the process of being broken down by beneficial bacteria, making them much easier to digest, and therefore much friendlier for your gut.
- Budget friendly: Fermented foods can be stored for long periods of time in jars, meaning less waste for those veggies that are usually left to rot in your refrigerator drawer. You can buy your veggies in bulk, ferment them and use as needed. This will help cut down on wasted food, and allows you the advantage of bulk pricing. It also helps cut down on the need to buy supplements like probiotics and digestive enzymes.
- Naturally occurring probiotics and digestive enzymes: The fermentation process introduces beneficial bacteria into your system naturally. Incorporating probiotics and digestive enzymes can do wonders for your gut health by healing the gut and allowing for more complete absorption of nutrients.
Some of my favorite fermented foods include kombucha, kefir, authentic sourdough bread, sauerkraut, Bubbies brand pickles and pickled carrots. You can find many of these items at your local health food store, or you can make them yourself.
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