Do you know that incorporating fermented food into the keto diet is vitally important for maintaining good health if you’re following that eating regimen? Failing to do that can upset some of your body’s most important functions—including your immune system. Here’s why fermented foods for keto matters.
In the typical diet of people around the world, carbohydrates in the form of starch in rice, pasta, corn, potatoes, taro, and beans, among other foods, are the body’s primary energy source. The human metabolism changes the starch into glucose—a sugar that supplies both muscles and the brain with energy. When the intake of carbohydrates is severely restricted and glucose reserves are fully depleted, the body still needs an energy source, so it turns to muscle mass and especially body fat to produce an alternative fuel called ketones. The “keto diet” is shorthand for a “ketogenic diet;” that is, a diet that prompts the body to turn to fat for fuel, and that in turn can lead to weight loss.
While a high fat, carbohydrate-restricted diet has been used for centuries to treat diabetes and seizures in children, its potential for causing weight loss is the chief reason why the keto diet is in vogue right now in our obesity-prone culture.
There’s no set rule for the keto diet. The amounts of carbohydrates, fat, and protein can vary depending on who’s creating the diet schedule. But a typical keto diet of 2,000 calories a day suggests about an ounce and a half of carbs, six ounces of fat such as butter, lard, olive oil, fish oil, and nuts, and two and a half ounces of protein.
It is a pretty intense plan, but if you’re going to try it, why are fermented foods for the keto diet so important?
Simply put, emerging research shows that a high fat diet alters the gut microbiome in ways that promote obesity and increases the risk of chronic disease. (reference link). Specifically, high fat consumption leads to a decrease in bacteroidetes, which are good bacteria in the gut. They are symbiotic and metabolize proteins and complex sugars that are essential for our health, both in adults and in children.
But a high fat diet not only decreases these good guys, it increases a type of bacteria called firmicutes in the microbiome. These have a negative influence on glucose and fat metabolism, and are commonly referred to as bad gut microbes. Increased ratios of firmicutes to bacteroidetes has been correlated with obesity and Type II diabetes.
Why Fermented Foods for Keto?
So, if you’re going to try a keto diet in order to lose weight, all that dietary fat may work against weight loss. But there is something you can do to ward off the ill effects of a high fat diet, researchers say, and that’s to feed your gut bacteria foods that stimulate the growth of good microbes. A healthy, balanced gut microbiome keeps the immune system strong and functional, and able to fight off a range of diseases. Enter fermented foods.
“Many cultures have fermented food in their cuisines, and two that are extremely beneficial to the health of your gut microbiome are sauerkraut and kimchi,” the University of South Carolina team studying the high fat diet writes. “Fermented vegetables are high in probiotics and are excellent fuel for the good bacteria and fungi in your gut microbiome.”
We at wildbrine have some knock-out sauerkraut and kimchi for you, whether you’re following keto or just want to eat some really tasty healthy food. If you’re looking for ideas, here are many ways to incorporate fermented foods into your daily lives.
About the Author: Sonoma County resident Jeff Cox is the author of 24 books, including The Essential Book of Fermentation (Avery, 2013)