Strengthen and promote your gut health with these four foods.
You may have heard that fermented foods are supposedly good for you. But how can that be? These foods sit out for days and weeks at a time and are known to produce armies of bacteria. That can’t possibly be good for you, can it?
It totally can and it is! Fermentation provides space for good, living bacteria to grow and eat away at the sugars and starches of the fermenting foods. Your gut hosts trillions of bacteria, some healthy and some harmful. Eating and drinking fermented products will support your gut with the good bacteria it needs to defend your body from inflammation, improve your digestion, and increase your immune system. Below are four fermented foods and detailed descriptions of their nutritional benefits.
This Korean-style fermented vegetable, usually comprised of cabbage or radish, works to regulate your blood sugar levels, blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and weight. This highly nutritious and minimal calorie side dish boasts high doses of probiotics that can greatly improve gastrointestinal health and relieve constipation. The vegetables soak in brine for days or weeks, creating lactic acid bacteria that gives it the characteristically sour flavor. If you open a jar of kimchi, you will notice that it contains a red-colored coating. These are the red chili flakes, which can determine exactly how spicy the pickled food tastes.
Top you salads and sandwiches with kimchi or pick a few cabbage leaves or radish slices out of the jar for a light snack!
This carbonated drink has climbed the ranks of popularity lately. It comes in many different flavors, from cranberry to spirulina. You can either buy it in the store or make it at home as long as you have the culture, or scoby. You ferment your tea, some sugar, and any fruits or vegetables that you choose and let the scoby sit on top. For a week or two, the scoby will absorb the sugar and grow in size, leaving a fizzy, tart drink underneath it that helps reduce blood sugar and LDL cholesterol as well as benefit your digestion. The longer it ferments, the more sour it will taste! Drinking this beverage will load your gut with probiotics to help fight off inflammation, boost your digestion, and even help with weight loss.
Check out these recipes for delicious and easy homemade kombucha concoctions!
Miso is not actually a soup — it is a Japanese seasoning that comes from fermented soybeans, salt, and the fungus, koji. This condiment’s high probiotic count eases your digestion and even reduces symptoms of intestinal problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease. Since it works to improve your gut bacteria, it can help boost your immune system, preventing you from contracting certain infections, or help you recover much faster if you already have contracted an illness.
Miso is most commonly known in the form of miso soup, but you can also add it into salad dressings, glazes, and marinades.
Similar to kimchi, sauerkraut is a type of fermented cabbage. While originating in China, this pickled vegetable became widely popular once the Germans picked it up and gave it its name. Filled with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and plenty of antioxidants, sauerkraut reduces your risk of cancer, eye disease, and digestion issues like gas, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating.
You can add it to your soup, sandwich, or anything in between! When purchasing sauerkraut, check that it is unpasteurized, as the pasteurization process kills the good bacteria and takes away many of its health benefits.