What Are Fermented Foods?

Preservation is the hallmark element of fermented food preparation. It involves a process of allowing live organisms to convert carbohydrates to organic acids or alcohol. It is a controlled environment and utilizes a system of anaerobic digestion and can be used to preserve a large variety of vegetables. The beauty of fermentation is that when consumed, it benefits our natural gut flora with healthy bacteria and probiotics. 

Fermented foods are also flavorful and rich in texture. The recipes for different varieties of fermented vegetables are endless and easy to make at home. Some of the more popular fermented foods include: 

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kombucha
  • Yogurt
  • Sourdough bread
  • Miso
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh

Are Fermented Foods Good for You? 

So what’s the connection between fermented foods and digestive health? Quite simply, it’s probiotics. Fermented foods contain the many different probiotics that contribute to a healthy gut and lifestyle. Probiotics offer live friendly bacteria and act as a supportive component to our natural microbiota. In essence, probiotics are like a “hug” to an otherwise upset stomach or imbalanced digestive system. Clinical studies indicate microorganisms complex with the gut flora to produce many other beneficial compounds. 

Those compounds are produced in the form of vitamins, and other substances known as bioactive peptides. These are thought to be instrumental for nerve health, blood-cell formation, and immune function. Collectively, probiotics show tremendous benefit to the body and have been known to positively influence overall body function and performance. 

The types of microorganisms or probiotics are found in fermented foods vary by type but here are some of the most common forms: 

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus. This is the beneficial workhorse bacteria that ferments. It contributes greatly to a balanced gut microbiome.
  • Lactobacillus casei and L. rhamnosus. These closely related probiotics are among the most widely researched species of lactobacilli.
  • Lactobacillus reuteri. G. This is considered one of the more beneficial and productive bacteria, and important in supporting immune function.
  • Lactobacillus salivarius. A microorganism that lives naturally within the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Streptococcus thermophilus. This is a bacterium that produces the lactase enzyme that assists with lactose digestion.
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum. This microbe is found in the stomach and intestinal tract.
  • Bifidobacterium longum. It has been suggested that this bacterium may have a positive effect on other probiotics in the intestine. 

Are Fermented Foods the Only Way to Improve Gut Health? 

Consuming fermented foods as part of a healthy diet plays a large role in digestive function. While it is a powerful tool, it is just one resource towards making sure probiotics are reaching your gut. Exercise, stress management, and rest should also be a part of your self-care plan. It is also a good idea to partner with a health professional for nutrition advice and a good preventative care plan. 

Incorporating Fermented Foods Easily into Your Daily Diet

Preparing fermented foods at home is super easy and fun. There are entire social media groups devoted to sharing best practices, tips, and recipes. The neat thing is that most fermented foods are easy to store and ideal for meal planning. Also, many people find fermentation to be a very versatile way to incorporate vegetables into their daily diets. 

Lastly, the popularity of fermented foods has made available product offerings fun and accessible. There are so many interesting flavor combinations and product offerings at many commercial markets now than ever before. Don’t be afraid to pick up a few fermented food items to try – you may just love it! 

What if You Can’t Consume Enough Fermented Foods?

Needless to say, prioritizing the consumption of fermented, high-probiotics foods can get tricky. 

Unfortunately, we all have daily stresses and unplanned life events that can wreak havoc on our normal digestive patterns. Unpredictable events such as illness, stress, travel, allergies, or medication changes can all contribute to how we’re able to balance both our bodies and our time.

Having a go-to regimen of comforting fermented food choices is a good idea – think yogurt, miso soup, or even your favorite flavor of kombucha. Naturally, we also recommend supporting your microbiome by supplementing with high quality supplements like Total Care Probiotic and Women’s Probiotic.  The goal is to nurture gut health and bring balance. 

Supplementing with daily probiotics may help provide this support, and takes the guesswork out of trying to consume enough of the unique foods that contain these beneficial bacteria. 

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