Updated: Sep 7
Origin of the Foods
Fermented foods have slowly been working their way into mainstream America.
Fermented foods are loaded with probiotics (healthy gut bugs) and can heal and seal your gastrointestinal tract leading to amazing health benefits. Although they may be new to your diet they are not new to traditional diets and date back as far as 10,000 years.
The emperor of China was fed miso on a daily basis and it was thought to bring longevity and strength. In Ancient India they enjoyed lassi, a fermented milk product. In the Roman times, sauerkraut was abundantly eaten. If you have eaten at Korean restaurant, you may have tried Kimchi, which is often quite spicy.
The second brain, your gastrointestinal tract, is fueled by the gut bugs that are found in these foods. Not only do these bugs protect your gut lining from less friendly bacteria, they also manufacture important nutrients that lead to a better sense of well-being. Without knowledge of microbes, our ancestors recognized the palatability, preservative, analgesic and mentally stimulating or sedating qualities of fermented foods and beverages. Fermented foods have been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects on the body, another good reason to incorporate them into your diet.
The most exciting news is the effect on our mental health and energy level. Research is currently confirming the connection between our sense of well-being and gut bugs for they actually manufacturer the precursors to serotonin and GABA, critical neurotransmitters in our brain. This is another reason to use extreme caution with antibiotics for they are broad spectrum in killing off gut flora, meaning they kill the necessary and pathogenic ones equally. More specifically, human studies show that oral probiotics can decrease anxiety, improve your mental outlook, and decrease perceptions of stress. One mechanism is by increasing tryptophan levels which lead to healthier dopamine and serotonin levels and usage in the brain.
Foods to Eat
OK, so now that you are convinced of the importance of fermented foods in your diet, how do you find these foods and which ones should you consume? Making your own is a wonderful evening project. Educate yourself on the appropriate equipment and methods to assure your product is filled with the healthy bugs and to avoid inappropriate bacteria. The internet is a wonderful resource for information on making fermented foods. If you prefer the easier store-bought products, here is a list of vibrant fermented foods:
Other (Fermented vegetables (beets, carrots, kale, collards)
Miso (preferably 3-5 years old)
As for the drinks that have become popular, especially Kombucha, they also have a long history and are a good choice. Making your own is always the best format and appears to have more diversity in the gut bugs. Make sure to read the labels because store-bought versions often have added sugars to make them more palatable, but they are not sweet by nature. Enjoy, indulge and move your body to optimal health with each and every food choice.
In Health, Stephany Porter, ND, FABNO The Bodhi Clinic www.bodhiclinic.com