- Dr. Nancy
The Secret Behind Fermented Foods
Do you eat fermented foods regularly? If not, you’re missing an easy way to make your gut healthier. And a healthier gut means a happier and more vibrant you!
If your gut isn’t right, you can eat healthy foods and still struggle with feeling flat and not quite yourself. Does this sound familiar? Fermented foods are important for healing the gut and balancing out the countless good and bad bacteria that live there, they could be your secret weapon for unlocking your vibrant self.
What are fermented foods?
Fermented foods undergo a process called lacto-fermentation. This ancient tradition is one way that foods were preserved before refrigeration became an option. The “lacto” part is nothing to do lactose; it’s actually referring to the lactobacilli bacteria that are involved in the process.
The benefits of fermented foods
A healthy gut environment is essential for your hormones, immunity, digestion and nervous system. It is thought to be at the core of your health potential.
According to a 2011 study published in the Nutrition Research Journal, fermented kimchi supports weight loss and can help to reduce body fat in people who are overweight - much more so than fresh kimchi. Plus, it can improve metabolic and cardiovascular disease markers such as blood pressure, fasting blood glucose levels and waist-to-hip ratio. Other research has linked kimchi to lower cholesterol levels and protection against constipation, osteoarthritis, atherosclerosis and even cancer.
Fermented foods can be great if you’ve been experiencing problems such as food intolerances, yeast infections, digestive issues and allergies. These can often stem from an unhealthy and imbalanced gut.
For immunity, the good bacteria in your gut helps your body to recognize foreign threats and distinguish them from normal, healthy cells, make more antibodies and help white blood cells to fight infection.
Basically, they give your body the tools to start healing, which is crucial for your health and wellbeing. And for anyone with health issues that stem from inflammation, they can help to calm things down. This is particularly great for people with autoimmune conditions, which are often highly inflammatory.
And with as much as 90% of your levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that is heavily involved in mood) being made in your gut, fermented foods can be a really underrated way to help you to elevate your mood, feel better and more vibrant.
What to eat
Some examples of fermented foods include:
· Yogurt with live cultures
· Fermented vegetables
· Raw apple cider vinegar
If you want to add more fermented foods into your diet, start by including 1-2 tablespoons of them with meals. Experts suggest you’ll get the best benefits from eating half a cup of fermented foods with meals. And as you’ll see in the next section, it’s not that difficult to make them yourself.
Making your own fermented foods
Homemade fermented foods tend to have more viable good bacteria than most of the ones you’ll find in the grocery store. Pasteurization can kill off as much as 80% of the bacteria in store bought fermented foods, which also destroys most of their benefits. Making your own fermented veggies means you don’t have to worry about that and it’s not as difficult as you might think!
Sauerkraut is very easy to make and extremely healthy for you to eat frequently. Fresh, fermented sauerkraut is loaded with probiotics. It is one of the most economical sources of probiotics available. Also, cabbage is part of the brassica family which most people call cruciferous vegetables. Cabbage is high in fiber and low in calories. It is nutrient dense, including antioxidants, polyphenols and sulfur. Making it a superfood to deter inflammation and cancer.
5 pounds of thinly sliced cabbage, core and thick veins removed, reserve 2 large leaves
3 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt
Place sliced cabbage and salt into crock. Using your fist or a large muddler pound the cabbage, compressing it until the juices are released and rise to cover the shred. It will take about 10-15 minutes of working the cabbage.
Lay the 2 large leaves across the top of the shredded cabbage and place the crock weights on top of them. This will keep the shred below the liquid and optimize the ferment.
Place water in the rim and add the crock top. This creates an airtight seal. Now, be patient and do not disturb for 1 month. Check to see if it is your desired sourness, if not you can leave up to two more weeks.
Add water to the rim as necessary. The crock will burp as fermentation is happening.
Transfer kraut and enough liquid to cover into glass jars with a tight lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to six months.
This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to fit the size of your crock. My ten pounds of cabbage filled a 2.1-gallon fermentation crock.