Funky Fermented Foods
Fermented foods have long been a staple for many different cultures. Originally they came about as a means of preservation. From kimchi in Korea, sauerkraut in Germany, yoghurt in Greece and miso in Japan. These traditional foods have become quite the star these days all thanks to their gut health-supporting microbes. It’s even lead to the popularisation of fermented drinks like kombucha and kefir which are now readily available.
What makes them good for our gut?
The fermentation process occurs when foods such as cabbage (in the case of sauerkraut and kimchi) are exposed to microbes such as yeast, which in turn break down the carbohydrates in the foods. This process results in the formation of acids and alcohol. It also produces carbon dioxide which is why these foods can sometimes have a fizzy funk to them.
The bacteria that remain in these foods feed your good gut microbiome, known as probiotics. Many studies have shown that probiotics aid with digestion and IBS management. They are living microbes; yup! They’re alive! Each type of fermented food can offer a different collection of these good gut guys, meaning the more variety of fermented foods you eat the more variety of good gut bacteria you’ll have.
How much should I have?
To really reap the benefits of probiotics it is recommended for them to be eaten regularly; that is at least once per day whilst aiming for a variety of these items including yoghurt, fermented vegetables, kefir, kombucha and miso. However, if you don’t usually eat these foods regularly it’s advised to take it slow. These foods feed our gut bacteria and this results in the production of gas which can result in painful bloating and gas. So start by adding one fermented food a week and see how you feel in your gut.
Top 4 easy to find fermented foods
Available everywhere and affordable! When choosing a yoghurt it’s important to pick one that has live cultures listed in the ingredient list. This means that the yoghurt contains these healthy bacteria. If choosing a dairy alternative yoghurt, ensure it has been fortified with calcium as well as containing those live bacteria cultures. Yoghurt is super versatile, try using it as a mayonnaise replacement in salad dressings or try it in this mixed berry, yoghurt and basil toast recipe.
This ancient style of preserved cabbage is available at all supermarkets and again it won’t break the bank. Since it’s made from cabbage you’re also getting the nutritional benefits cabbage such as fibre as well as antioxidants if choosing the red sauerkraut. Try adding it to baked potatoes as a topping or with some cheddar on seeded sourdough.
A Japanese staple. Made from soybeans, miso is a Japanese paste most often used as soup base with tofu added, but can be used to flavour many dishes. Again, found in all supermarkets and affordable as a little goes a long way. Try adding a teaspoon to this bolognese low-fodmap vegetables and gluten-free spaghetti recipe for a boost of flavour.
You can find kombucha everywhere nowadays and is a great alternative to a soft drink. It’s also something you can have whilst on the go. Choose one that is refrigerated, look for those that have less than 5g of sugar per 100ml avoid those that have been pasteurised or state it was made from kombucha extract as these will not have the health benefits you’re looking for.
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