I am sure all of us grew up eating fermented foods in one form or the other, without knowing its actual benefit .Our ancestors had them too and over the years this has been associated with various health benefits. However, for the past few years, fermented foods and its impact on gut health has become a hot topic .With emerging research on how gut bacteria can have an impact on not just our gut health but other aspects of our wellbeing; we all want to get our hands on what can help our good little buddies in our gut.
What are fermented foods?
These are foods and drinks that has undergone process of fermentation.Fermentation promotes the growth and life cycle of bacteria. During the process of fermentation of food, carbohydrate is converted to organic acids using micro-organism like yeast or bacteria imparting a flavour or aroma to the food.
Some of the common types of fermented foods are:
- Sauerkraut: Finely cut cabbage that is fermented by lactic acid bacteria
- Kimchi: Salted and fermented vegetables like cabbage, carrots, Radish etc.
- Kefir: Fermented dairy product .This is also good source of calcium, protein and probiotic. Due to the fermentation process it also is low in Lactose.
- Kombucha or Booch : Fermented drink that is made from sweetened tea and symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Bacteria and yeast convert sugar into small amount of alcohol and acetic acid .It is also believed to have some antioxidants but there is very little evidence for this.
- Miso(fermented beans): Traditional Japanese Fermented paste made from Barley, Rice or Soybeans .It gives a nice umami flavour to soups or stir-fry.
- Tempeh: Naturally fermented soybeans .It has a texture like Tofu and has a nutty flavour. This is a good source of complete protein for those who are vegetarian.
- Yoghurt: Fermented milk product which is packed with several vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin B. But also good source of live culture of bacteria like lactic acid bacteria.
Are fermented foods sufficient for gut bacteria?
Trillions of microbes populate our large intestine. Although, incorporating the fermented products is easy and convenient way to look after our gut bacteria, unfortunately this is not the only answer to it.
So, what can you do to help your gut bacteria?
- Eat a varied diet with plenty of whole grain, fruit, veg, lentils and pulses. It is suggested having at least 30 different types of plant based foods/week. Diversity is the key.
- Ensure you are having at least 30g of fibre each day.
- Go easy on caffeinated drinks and alcohol. It can affect the balance of your gut bacteria.
- Trial mindfulness. With the emerging research and growing evidence on gut :brain axis(communication between our gut and brain) ,it is vital to take care of our mental wellbeing to subsequently help our gut health and little buddies living there.10-15minutes of mindfulness /day is all you need
Note: Most of the fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that act as a probiotic , however, some of it can be high in Sodium(salt),so check out the labels.