In the medical field we are all abuzz about gut health and all of the research associated with it. Even though the research is still in its infancy, we are beginning to have a better understanding of its critical importance. An estimated 100 trillion microorganisms make a home in your gut, and they play a role in metabolism, immune system, cancer, obesity and diabetes, to name a few. If the good bugs in the gut outnumber the bad, you’re less likely to develop some of these conditions.
Fermentation is an ancient process in which the live bacteria (lactobacilli, for example) break down the sugars making it easier for you to digest and absorb nutrients. Examples of these foods are tempeh, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, natto and yogurt. Studies show fermentation can boost the nutritional value of certain foods, even producing B vitamins that weren’t there before the fermentation process. These probiotics also aid in digestive issues such as diarrhea.
Eating a diet that includes fermented foods is a nice boost to gut health, however often times there may be other underlying health or nutritional issues that need to be addressed. In other words, fermented foods are not a panacea, and a sudden introduction to them may not be well tolerated. Before you start stockpiling the sauerkraut, be aware that not all fermented foods are treated equally. Many of the jars of or cans of these foods have been pasteurized and cooked at high heat, killing any friendly bacteria. And many contain large amounts of sugar (yogurts and kefir) and salt (kimchi and sauerkraut). Look for the refrigerated sauerkraut and kimchi that is made locally. Chose kefir or yogurts without fruit Or, you can always make them yourself!
If you would like to learn more about your individual gut health you can schedule an appointment at our practice to learn how!