For this week’s focus, we are going to be asking you to start to incorporate some fermented foods into your daily and weekly nutrition plan.
Some of you may have heard about fermented foods, and others not. Either way is fine. Let’s just give you a little bit more information about fermented foods before we go into a more detail about how they can benefit you and how they work.
Fermented foods can:
- Improve digestion. It does this by helping to restore the proper balance of bacteria within the gut.
- Increase the flavour of your meals
- Be kept for months…fermenting food helps to preserve it for longer periods of time. Milk will go bad in the fridge but kefir and yogurt last a lot longer. Sauerkraut, pickles and salsa will keep for months!
- Raw, fermented foods are also rich in enzymes; something that your body needs to adequately digest, absorb, and utilise the nutrients in your food.
The benefits of fermented food don’t stem from some magical property inherent to fermented food. Rather, it is simply that by introducing beneficial bacteria into our bodies we restore the balance of our intestinal flora. In times gone by, this would be standard in people who ate traditional, whole food diets and exposed themselves to bacteria on a regular basis, but nowadays we live in an ever increasingly sterile world.
Eating fermented foods will improve the functionality of your gut and this is key to hormonal balance and body fat balance.
Fermented foods address a severe deficit in the modern gut; they don’t introduce anything new to human physiology. Taking probiotics serves a similar purpose as fermented foods. However it is an ever so slightly more expensive option. You can take probiotics and eat fermented foods if you wanted to.
So, I just want to clear something up about the flora in your gut…one of the biggest misconceptions about probiotics is that you take them and then they “live” in your gut and “grow”. Probiotics are transient. Try imaging them as passing vehicles, they take up the “parking bays” in your gut, to stop less helpful bacteria over developing until your own natural gut flora are ready use that space. Fermented foods work in the same way!!
When we look at fermented foods there is an abundance of choice:
- Live yoghurt (if homemade then even better)
- Kefir (fermented water, dairy, coconut or goats milk using specific grains)
- Kimchee (Korean fermented cabbage dish)
- Sauerkraut (traditionally fermented cabbage but any vegetables can be fermented)
- Kombucha (fermented cold tea drink – think slightly fizzy iced tea)
Any of these will do, so take your pick. Personally, I like sauerkraut because it has a natural acidic flavour which means it can be added to salads as an alternative to a vinaigrette. It also acts like a relish to make meat a bit more exciting.
So, going forwards this week and onwards, your food focus is to get more fermented foods into your plan. There are a variety of ways that you can do this…
- Drink fermented beverages. Kefir is available at many health food stores but can be QUITE expensive. Kefir is very easy to make at home and cheap too (have a look on page 3 of your week 2 recipe book)! If you buy the kefir grains, they are self-replicating, so you just need to buy them once and you have kefir forever and ever! You just need to buy the milk to replicate it with!
- Serve food with pickles, sauerkraut, salsa, sour cream, and other naturally fermented condiments.
- You can buy naturally fermented food types at health food stores but of course they come with a price tag! Remember there’s always Lidl…you can buy lots of fermented foods there much cheaper! — or make your own.