Fermented Foods For Gut Health

Fermented Foods For Gut Health

Bev Dunne

Although fermented foods have been around for a long time, they are very much on the health radar these days particularly when it comes to gut health and general wellbeing. So, what exactly are fermented foods you might ask?

Fermented foods go through a natural process of lacto-fermentation in which natural bacteria feeds on the sugar and starch in the food which then creates lactic acid.  This not only preserves the food but also creates valuable enzymes and various strains of probiotics.  Fermenting foods also preserves the nutrients as well as enables the foods to be more easily digested - hence the connection between fermented foods and gut health.

Unfortunately, the amount of probiotics and enzymes in the average diet has declined over the years, mainly due to development in technology and food preparation.  I use the word ‘development’ not necessarily in a positive way – where once we ate foods rich in enzymes and probiotics, the normal diet now consists largely of processed sugar, salt and saturated fat based ‘non’ foods. 

Fermented foods are in fact highly nutritious and easily digested.  The fermentation process actually pre-digests the food which in turn makes the nutrients far more bio-available and quite often produces extra nutrients.

We have known for some time probiotics taken in a capsule or powder are beneficial for increasing the good bacteria in our gut.  Many however have not been aware that eating fermented foods and drinking fermented drinks can be helpful in increasing the good bacteria in the digestive system.  Fermented foods can also help to address the imbalance of stomach acid in the gut.  When the stomach is low in hydrochloric acid, fermented foods can help to increase the acid level and vice versa if it is too high.  The digestive enzymes in our gut in fact decrease as we get older and consuming fermented foods is the perfect way to increase those digestive enzymes.

To gain the best results with fermented foods, it is obviously important to eat them regularly.  I have set out below a list some of the fermented foods we carry in store.  If you’ve been into our store recently, you will see we have expanded our fermented foods range to include Love Your Guts Sauerkraut and Kefir, Jiva Kombucha and Green Street Kitchen Coconut Kefir.

YOGHURT – I’m sure most have eaten yoghurt at some time, however to gain the best results it is important the yoghurt be as natural as possible ie no added sugar (add your own fresh fruit to give extra flavour).  The Meredith Sheeps Milk Yoghurt and CoYo Coconut Yoghurt we stock is an example of a good quality yoghurt.

KEFIR – Kefir is a fermented milk drink made by adding kefir grains (Natures Goodness Kefir Culture Sachets or Mad Millie Kefir Culture) to milk.  These grains are a combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeast. Any type of milk can be used including cow, goat, soy, rice or coconut. Coconut water or water may also be used.  When made with milk, kefir is more like a watery yoghurt. When made with water it’s a much lighter beverage.  

One of the benefits of kefir is its very high probiotic content. A 2019 study (1) found kefir can contain more than 50 strains of probiotic bacteria and yeasts. Some kefirs are so potent they can be used as a therapeutic drink, meaning we would generally only take around 10ml a day.

We sell a large range of kefir drinks including

Gagas Vanilla Coconut Mylk Kefir;     

Green Street Kitchen Coconut Kefir – Rasberry & Beetroot and Cacao & Hazelnut;  

Amphore Coconut Milk Kefir; 

Peace Love & Vegetables Coconut Kefir;    

Babushka Kefir – Natural, Coconut and Honey;  

Love Your Guts Water Kefir – Lemon, Elderflower, Rasberry & Mint

KOMBUCHA – This beverage is a raw fermented, probiotic and naturally fermented tea. Once again Kombucha is believed to contain probiotics to provide our gut with healthy bacteria.

Making Kombucha can be fun.  In store we have Mad Millie Kombucha Kits which means you can make your own kombucha using live culture which turns sweetened tea into a delicious fizzy kombucha drinkg.

Also in store we stock several ranges of kombucha in various flavours –

Jiva – Superberry, Ginger, Watermelon & Mint, Pomegranate;   

Happy Hippie – Passionfruit Dream, Ginger, Tropical Sunrise;    

Hemp Oz Kombucha.  

FERMENTED VEGETABLES – I’m sure we have all tasted or at least heard of Sauerkraut which has been part of the European diet for centuries. Some may also know of Kimichi which is another fermented vegetable eaten for centuries in Korea.  We stock a fantastic range of fermented vegetables -  

Peace Love and Vegetables - Superkraut Sea Vegetables, Beetroot & Herbs, Dill, Greens, Chipotle; Love Your Guts – Beetroot & Ginger, Radish & Turmeric Kimchi, Smokey Sauerkraut Garlic & Jalapeno; Gaga’s Ginger Beets, Kimchi

These fermented vegetables are raw, unpasteurised, rich in good lactic acid bacteria, free from vinegar or flavour enhancers.  They are a great addition to your meal – used as a delicious condiment with savoury dishes or as an addition to salads.

CASHEW CHEESE – These cheeses are a great alternative to dairy and even better the fermentation process means they once again contain probiotics. Our range of cashew cheeses are also increasing –  Lauds Carrot & Cardamon; Beetroot; Lemon Garlic & Dill,

Nutty Bay Garlic, Classic; 

Peace Love & Vegetables Dill, French Onion, Mushroom

There is no doubt, gut health is imperative to our overall wellbeing.  Now with all these options, there really is no excuse to not address our gut health. 

 

  • Modern perspectives on the health benefits of kefir in next generation sequencing era: Improvement of the host gut bacteria. Dong-Hyeon Kim; Dana Jeong; Hyunsook Kim; Kun-Ho Seo.  Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2019;59(11);1782-1793 doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1428168. Epub 2018 Feb 9.