Cultured Foods for Gut Health

Okay, my friends. I’ve been away for a while and there’s a lot of ground to cover. Let’s start with nutrition, specifically the importance of fermented or cultured foods.

Over the years, my own personal nutrition journey has led me to cross paths many times with cultured foods. In a nutshell, fermentation is something our ancestors did to preserve seasonal foods. Many cultures still do. Think saurkraut, kambucha, pickled ginger, kim chi, chutney, etc. Our culture is familiar with the fermentation process that turns milk into yogurts and cheeses, Whether our ancestors knew it or not, fermentation turns ordinary produce into superfoods rich with a multitude of microorganisms that our bodies rely on for digestion, immunity and general health.

Our gut harbors a complex community of over 100 trillion microbial cells which influence human physiology, metabolism, nutrition and immune function. Disruption to the gut microbiota has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease and obesity.

In fact, gut health is considered to be the primary indicator of whole body health. According to Dr. Mercola, “The importance of your gut flora, and its influence on your health cannot be overstated. It’s truly profound. Your gut literally serves as your second brain, and even produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin — known to have a beneficial influence on your mood — than your brain does.

Recent advancements in this field have even led to the development of fecal transplantation therapy. Gross. I’ll let the articles listed below fill you in on the details of that.

Cultured foods alter short chain fatty acid production, which generally reduces colonic ph, inhibits growth of enteric pathogens, encourages a proliferation of “good bacteria”, has a protective effect against colon cancer and decreases triglyceride, cholesterol synthesis. Amounts as small as one-half cup of cultured food daily has been proven beneficial.

I’m sure you’re aware of the increase in advertisements by supplement and yogurt companies pushing their expensive probiotics, as if that’s the only way to get the good bacteria. But there are alternatives — delicious alternatives.

Fermenting is easy to do, requires only items you can buy in your local grocery (organic), and doesn’t take much time to prepare. So basically, by taking a small amount of time every other week or so to prepare some delicious cultured foods, you are giving yourself and your family daily inoculation against a variety of gastrointestinal and other ailments.

There’s a really wide variety of fermentable foods, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. Start with sources listed below.

I am more enthusiastic than eloquent about this subject, which is vast, so let me ask you to please check out some of these links for more information and easy recipes.

Background Information
Fermented Foods for Beginners
Gut Microbiota and the Development of Inflammatory Bowel
Learn to Culture Fruits, Vegetables and CondimentsDr. Mercola: Why this Single Organ Powerfully Dictates Whether You’re Healthy or Sick
Fecal Transplantation Therapy
Demented Fermenters Blog
Gut Summit 2013

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