Gut health is a growing area in the health industry as emerging research has identified links between your gut health and your mood, weight management and immune system. This keen interest in gut health has introduced a lot of hype around fermented foods so lets take a look to see if all of the buzz is actually worth it?
The art of fermentation has been around for decades but essentially fermenting converts sugar in food into cellular energy and lactic acid, which in turn produces digestive enzymes and healthy gut flora and reduces the sugar content of a food. So what does all of this science actually mean?
1. Fermented foods are high in probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria that are naturally found in our gut and in our food. They improve our health by reducing the number of harmful bacteria that may survive in our gut. They also boost our immune system, assist with digestion and reduce symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
2. Aids Digestion. Fermented food is broken down and can be easier to digest. Fermented foods also produce the digestive enzymes which ensure you get the most nutrients out of all foods you ingest.
3. Improves the digestion of nutrients. Fermentation can also increase the availability of vitamins and minerals for our bodies to absorb.
4. Boosts your immune system. A large proportion of the immune system is housed in the gut. By consuming probiotic-rich foods, you are supporting the gut lining as a natural barrier. A lack of beneficial bacteria allows disease causing microbes to grow causing inflammation in the gut wall. If you have recently taken a course of antibiotics, fermented foods are particularly helpful.
So what types of fermented foods are on the market?
- Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
- kombucha (fermented drink)
- Traditionally made sourdough bread
- pickles or pickled products
5. Any reasons to avoid. The same with any food that is promoted due to its health benefits it is important to check the label to see what else the manufacturers have put in there, for example some kombucha drinks are very high in sugar, and also remember that just because it has health benefits doesn’t mean it should be consumed in excess.