Fermented Foods

July 11, 2017

This is certainly not a new fad that is doing the health rounds.  Yes it has become more popular more recently, but fermentation of foods has been done for centuries in many different cultures, and thankfully it is one very beneficial food source to sink your teeth into.  

What on earth is fermentation you ask? It is the process of food preservation or “lactofermentation” where bacteria thrive off the sugars and starches in the food and create lactic acid which preserves the food.  Through this process, it then creates an invaluable amount of enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, and some b vitamins.  All this also improves the way we digest our food.  

The benefits of eating these fermented foods include a great improvement in gut health due to the improved absorption of foods as well as the supply of probiotics to create a healthier gut flora.  Particularly with this time of the year where there are so many bugs around and everyone is catching colds and flus, this is a great cost effective way to support your immune system as 80% of your immunity is derived from you gut. Due to the probiotics it can be very helpful for those that suffer from digestive discomfort, it can however cause more bloating and discomfort initially as your body copes with the change of flora.  If you have digestive issues and fermented foods don’t help make sure to contact your health care provider to get on top of it.

Fermented foods are very cost effective, there are so many options out there now for sale and due to only needing a small amount with your meals they last a long time.  It is also way more cost effective to make your own, and this generally leads to more potent probiotics as well as you being able to tweak the taste to be just how you like it.

Its also a great way to preserve your vegies.  When things start to go a bit sad looking in the fridge, and you aren’t likely to use it in your cooking or smoothies, then fermenting them is a great alternative to save waste as well as provide yourself with a nutrient dense food to use later on.

There are a ton of recipes online to make your own ferments, these are my favourite ferments that I often have in my fridge.

  • Sauerkraut – Fermented cabbage, which can be made as simply as just cabbage, salt and water.  Adding extra spices and herbs gives it a bit of a flavour kick.
  • Kimchi – Sauerkrauts asian cousin – this is similar to Sauerkraut but with added spices and pickles and has a real kick to it.
  • Miso – Fermented rice, soybeans or barley.  Can be used as a paste, made into a soup, or for cooking.  Has the umami flavour which we often neglect and is super important for digestion.
  • Pickles – any type of vegies are great for this.
  • Kombucha – a fermented tea with a fizz.  This is not one to over do, and I will say the probiotic benefit of Kombucha is short lived however it is a great alternative to any other sugary drinks.  Making your own is definitely a bonus due to some of the more commericially available products are higher in sugar.

If you tolerate dairy then using 

  • kefir (which is essentially a drinkable tart yogurt)
  • yogurt (not a sweet fruity one!) 

You can also use coconut for both of these if you want a dairy free alternative.

Try some ferments this week with your meals, great as a side dish to accompany your meals and really aid in that digestion and immune health!

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