Why Eat Fermented Food?
Fermented food provides daily bacteria for the intestinal tract. The intestinal tract's primary function is the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients. However, did you know that it is also responsible for 80% of your immune system? I'll say that again - 80%! It is also involved with hormonal health, mental health and is known as the 2nd brain for its direct communication with the brain via the vagus nerve. Hence, the health of your gut for all these functions is absolutely key to your overall physical and mental health. Gut health is governed by the number and variety of good bacteria and the health and integrity of your gut lining.
Unfortunately, there are many things that damage your gut such as antibiotics, alcohol, processed food, sugar, stress, lack of sleep etc. So, we can all benefit from fermented food. Ideally you should have 5 servings a week, 1/4-1/2 cup, of a variety of fermented food.
Benefits of Fermented Food
Fermented food provides a wide variety and plentiful beneficial bacteria for your gut/microbiome. It aids digestion, renders nutrients more easily absorbed, boosts the immune system, breaks down and destroys anti-nutrients eg phytates and lectins. It is associated with improved mental health, weight loss and heart health. Nutritional experts says that even people allergic to dairy can take milk kefir as the lactose has been broken down in fermentation. However, if you have a dairy allergy and feel nervous to try milk kefir, try water kefir instead.
Making your own is best. Studies have found anything from 500 billion to trillions CFU (probiotics) per cup. No capsule can provide that kind of breadth and volume.
Note: should you experience gas and bloating after eating fermented food, know that this is temporary. It is the excess gas produced as the good bacteria kills off harmful gut bacteria and fungi.
So far, I am not a huge fan of Sauerkraut but I will keep trying and if I find something I like, I will post a recipe. Below are recipes for fermented food and drink that I have made and enjoyed.