In the nascent world of gut science, the numerous benefits of fermented foods are finally coming to light. These probiotic-rich foods help build a bridge between a happy microbiome and good bacteria, and their impact on our well-being in general. Plus, they’re delicious, so we all win.
The microbiome contains trillions of living microorganisms, all located in the digestive tract. According to recent studies, researchers estimate that 90% of our health and vitality starts in our gut. So, if our gut is off, chances are other areas might be ailing as well. From food allergies, to autoimmune diseases, and even some cancers, more and more research indicates that our microbiome plays a larger role in our overall well-being.
The Good Stuff
Good bacteria that helps foster gut health is generated by the fermentation process, typically accomplished with lactic acid bacteria such as lactobacillus. These organisms contain helpful enzymes, nutrients, and vitamins that are essential to a well-functioning digestive tract. At wildbrine, we use “wild” fermentation - the process of allowing this transformation to happen on its own time and in its own way. We add sea salt to our veggie and spice mix, and provide the right, cozy environment for the naturally occurring probiotic microorganisms to work their magic.
Although a somewhat recent culinary trend in the U.S., fermented foods are actually nothing new. Our ancient ancestors living around 6000 BC enjoyed them daily to support digestion and reap the bountiful benefits. With the Standard American Diet (SAD) rife with fast food, sugar, and processed foods, it appeared for a while that we as a country were drifting away from our roots. But thankfully, there has been an attitude shift towards the importance of digestive health and eating more fermented food to help support it.
The Five Benefits of Fermented Foods
Although enjoying something tasty could be reason enough, there are five main reasons you should follow the fermented food path:
- Gut health - Foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and sriracha are said to support digestion by using natural enzymes and probiotics to break down and absorb key nutrients.
- Immunity - Since our immune system is mostly housed in our digestive tract, it’s crucial to keep it nourished with a daily diet rich in fermented foods and probiotics.
- Mental health - 70% of our serotonin lives in the gut. A healthy digestive ecosystem may lead to a healthier mind and support better mood balance.
- Weight management - Consuming more of these products can help curb sugar cravings, but they’re also generally lower in carbohydrates and calories than most foods. Maintaining a diet containing plenty of good bacteria-rich foods may also help support weight control.
- Energy and vitality - They may also boost energy due to the amino acids, vitamins, enzymes and nutrients. New research also shows a positive correlation between fermented foods and heart health.
Healthy eating should be tasty and enjoyable, and with all the benefits of fermented foods, there’s no reason you should hold back. We recommend slowly adding in small amounts per day and building up your “dose” over time.
For a tangy twist on your favorite classics, start by giving these wildly creative and fermented meal ideas a try.
- Dill and garlic kraut on your salad for a zesty crunch.
- Top red beet & cabbage or kimchi sriracha on savory avocado toast.
- For a spicy spin on the traditional cozy dish, try adding a dollop of kimchi to your favorite mac and cheese.