Do Fermented Foods Help Your Health?
Fermented foods such as kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi contain naturally occurring probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are essential for healthy digestion. Regularly eating fermented foods contributes to a healthy microbiome, which can aid in immunity and overall gut health. 1
A Healthy Microbiome
The term ‘microbiome’ refers to the microbes (bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi) that live in and on the human body. The microbiome plays a major part in digestion, immunity and blood coagulation. Adding the healthy probiotics found in some fermented foods to the microbiome can improve gut health and may help many people with digestive issues. 2
Increasing intake of fermented foods can help reduce digestive symptoms caused by ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease. 3 4 Kombucha, sauerkraut, and kefir are good sources of probiotics, or try fermenting your own vegetables to boost your microbiome. Remember that the goal is to bring balance to the microbiome, and eating too much fermented food can throw that off just as not eating enough can. Fermented foods should be a regular part of your diet, but not the main part.Those who have a sensitivity to fructose and other short-chain carbohydrates should avoid fermented foods.
Recipe: Fermented Vegetables
Use your fermented vegetables to top cooked grains, beans or leafy greens. They also go well with grilled fish or chicken, or on their own as a snack.
Recipe courtesy of Bastyr University.
1 tbsp. sea salt (add up to 50 percent more to taste)
2 cup filtered water
1⁄2 medium cauliflower, chopped into small florets
2 medium carrots, chopped
1⁄2 medium white onion, chopped
1⁄2 clove garlic, minced
4 medium kale leaves, cut into thin strips
5 black peppercorns
1 pinch curry powder
1 large cabbage leaf
Dissolve sea salt in water. Place vegetables and spices into a glass quart jar. Leave 1 inch from the top of the jar, then cover with salted water, leaving about 1 inch to ½-inch from the top. Fold a small cabbage leaf and press it into the brine, so the water floats above it and the vegetables are submerged. Cover with a plastic lid and store out of direct sunlight. After three days you should see a bit of bubbling (the natural fermenting process).
After a total of five days of fermenting, taste the veggies. If the taste is to your liking, proceed. If you prefer a more sour taste, let the vegetables ferment for another two to three days. Once ready, remove the cabbage leaf and place the jar in your refrigerator where the vegetables will keep for a month or two.
Safety precautions: in order to prevent contamination, always use sterilized equipment and containers when fermenting at home and use a clean implement to transfer fermented vegetables out of the container.
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