K - Keffir, Kombucha, Kimchi and Kraut
Fermented foods have become popular and trendy, despite being around for about 6000 years. Originally they were a way to preserve food and with more interest in gut health, this practice has been rediscovered and the benefits well documented.
Basically in fermenting the food we are creating an environment where good bacteria can flourish and these are beneficial to our gut microbiome.
Eating fermented foods provides numerous health benefits, including:
· Improving digestion by boosting the good bacteria in your gut. Fermented foods work like probiotics, helping to balance gut flora and fight off pathogenic bacteria. Fermented foods are already predigested as part of the fermentation process which makes them easier to digest eg sourdough starter helps the breakdown of gluten.
· Helps prevent bloating and gas by balancing your gut flora. When your gut bacteria become imbalanced and there is an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria, bloating and gas occur.
· Regulating blood sugar levels by improving the way the body responds to insulin. Gut bacteria produce a compound called butyrate which not only helps control inflammation, it also positively impacts insulin sensitivity.
· Boosting immune function. 80% of the immune system resides in the gut so healthy gut bacteria promotes a healthy immune system.
· Supports stomach acid production. Fermented foods work like digestive enzymes as they help you break down and digest foods better. They also promote peristalsis which is the muscle contraction that occurs to move food through the digestive tract.
· Increases production and absorption of nutrients. The microorganisms in fermented foods help the body make and absorb vitamins and nutrients, especially the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fermenting vegetables also increases the vitamin C and B-vitamins in the food.
· Helps detox the body as fermented foods work as excellent chelators which means they are good at drawing out heavy metals.
So get fermenting! There are plenty of resources online for recipes on how to get started or just buy some off the shelf to see if you like them. Food is medicine and this is the perfect way to help your gut.