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  • Dr. Nancy

How to Get Started With Fermented Foods

No doubt you’ve heard of probiotics, but you may not be so sure about how they could benefit you. Probiotics are live strains of microorganisms that can even out the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut.

If there is an imbalance and bad bacteria have been able to start taking over, it’s likely that you’ve noticed some of the effects in your health and wellbeing. Your diet, general health and antibiotics usage can all upset the delicate balance of gut bacteria and this can lead to health problems.

Live yogurt made from grass-fed milk.

Probiotic-rich fermented foods can have a positive influence on a variety of health concerns:

1. Immunity

Tired of getting sick all the time? According to research, taking probiotics may boost your immunity. This may be because they can help your body to produce more natural antibodies. If you get sick with colds on a fairly regular basis, it might be worth seeing if you can improve your immune function through fermented foods.

2. Heart Health

In theory, the good bacteria in your gut break down bile and stop it from being reabsorbed. This means that less bile enters the bloodstream as cholesterol, reducing the potential for cardiovascular disease.

3. Digestion

If you’ve ever taken antibiotics and suffered from loose stools afterwards, you’ll know exactly how they can affect your digestive system for the worse! This is because they kill off a lot of the good bacteria in your gut, which paves the way for the bad bacteria to run riot.

It’s not that uncommon for loose stools to carry on for quite a while after you’ve finished a course of antibiotics due to the imbalance. According to some studies, probiotics can help to prevent this. Fermented food helps to restore the good bacteria and maintain balance within your gut.

4. Skin

Gut imbalances can wreak havoc with your skin. If you suffer from eczema, rosacea or acne, probiotics may be able to help.

5. Mood

Gut health is strongly linked to mental health. Fermented foods can help to boost good bacteria and reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and even OCD.

6. Weight

There is some emerging evidence that probiotics may support weight loss, especially of that stubborn belly fat. Just another reason to make sure to eat a variety of fermented foods.

Fermented foods can be hugely beneficial for your gut and overall health because they are loaded with probiotics, but how do you get started with adding more of them to your diet?

Live yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, miso and kombucha are just a few of the fermented foods that you’re probably aware of, even if they’re not actually a part of your diet at the moment.

But did you know that beets, fruit chutney, salsa, sour cream, vinegar and salad dressings can also count as fermented foods? Store bought varieties are unlikely to contain probiotics so you may decide to have a go at making your own instead to get the most benefits.

Here are few ideas for how to get more fermented foods in your diet:

● Live yogurt made from grass fed milk (look for “live and active cultures on anything that claims to be live yogurt)

● Adding milk kefir in smoothies or in anything you’d normally look to use yogurt in

● Putting fermented dressings on salads

● Adding sauerkraut to salads (preferably from the refrigerator section if you’re buying from the grocery store as canned or jarred versions do not have live cultures)

● Using fermented pickles in sandwiches

● Adding kimchi to stir fries (as with sauerkraut, head for the refrigerator section)

● Adding miso paste to soups, salad dressings and marinades

Fermented food does not have to take over your entire diet. Adding a little bit from a variety of sources each and every day can provide enough bacterial diversity to support a relatively healthy gut. More may be required if you are trying to re-establish an optimal balance within your gut microbiome.

(If you suffer from anxiety or depression, please consult your doctor. Probiotics and fermented food alone may not provide you with everything you need to thrive.)

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