November 14, 2014

DAY 19…Let’s learn a bit and take our minds off the fact that we’re in week 3!

Fermented Foods

Fermentation is all the buzz this year.  If there is a “new” trend in Paleo every year, this is the year of a healthy gut, created by good bacteria, which can be obtained through fermented foods! 

One of my favorite new websites on healthy guts is www.healthyguthealthylife.com.  Check it out.  Good stuff by a well-credentialled RD!

Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years.  Originating in China (where it is called “Kim chi” and made with cabbage and wine), Genghis Kahn took Sauerkraut to Europe where the Germans switched out the wine for salt.  It then became a staple for seafaring men since it keeps well sans refrigeration, has many probiotic effects  and has high amounts of vitamin c (when made with cucumbers) that helped prevent scurvy.  So what can these ancient fermented foods do for us in modern times?  There has recently been good research done on the probiotic properties and health-benefits of eating these same fermented foods.

Your stomach and large intestine are filled with gut flora (ya know, the “good bacteria” or “probiotics”).  This gut flora is essential to healthy, normal digestion.

“Inadequate or imbalanced gut flora is one of the primary issues behind poor large intestine function” -Diane Sanfilippo

From years of eating refined carbs, sugar, nutrient-poor starches, etc., your intestines may have an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria which reduces stomach acid which prevents proper digestion (snowball effect).  Chris Kresser states that some symptoms of bad bacteria overgrowth include indigestion and heartburn.  So if you are experiencing burping and heartburn after meals, probiotics may be something you want to look into.  Yes, there are supplement forms of probiotics but as always, we recommend getting as much as possible from whole foods.

“I am often asked what type of probiotics I recommend. First, I am not a big believer in supplements. I think we should always attempt to get the nutrients we need from food. This is also true for probiotics. Fermented foods have been consumed for their probiotic effects for thousands of years. What’s more, contrary to popular belief and the marketing of commercial probiotic manufacturers, foods like yogurt and kefir generally have a much higher concentration of beneficial microorganisms than probiotic supplements do.

For example, even the most potent commercial probiotics claim to contain somewhere between one and five billion microorganisms per serving. (I say “claim” to contain because independent verification studies have shown that most commercial probiotics do not contain the amount of microorganisms they claim to.) Contrast that with a glass of homemade kefir, a fermented milk product, contains as many as 5 trillion beneficial microorganisms!” -Chris Kresser

Fresh Sauerkraut can be a bit on the pricey side if bought from a farmer’s market but Nature’s Food Patch carries a brand, “Bubbies”, in their refrigerated section that contains live cultures and is relatively inexpensive for a large jar (I think it’s 6 or 7 bucks).  Sauerkraut is also super simple and cost-effective to make, you just have to be prepared to wait a week or two for the fermentation process to work it’s magic.  Click HERE for a simple recipe to try it yourself.

Diane Sanfilippo recommends a 1/4 cup with your breakfast each day.  Try it on your eggs, the crunchy, salty goodness is a fresh new take on those mundane eggs you all have been complaining about 🙂

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