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What is missing from our diets?
You could argue that more people need to eat more vegetables. Or that as a nation, we would be healthier if we replaced unhealthy fats with healthy fats.
But one thing you may not hear is that we need to eat more fermented foods.
Fermented foods strengthen the health and the balance of your inner ecosystem, or the micro-environment of the digestive tract. And according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the bacteria living in your digestive tract are worth paying more attention to. (1)
Dramatic changes in what we eat and how we eat are associated with an increased risk of disease. Studies have confirmed that what you eat shapes the communities of bacteria and yeast living in your gut.
In 2011, the NIH emphasized the need for more research in:
The health of the inner ecosystem and the gut has never been more important to the medical community. But what is the best form of probiotic to take?
Fermentation is one of the oldest ways to preserve food.
When you ferment a food, you allow beneficial bacteria and yeast to colonize and feed on the food. As communities of specific health-promoting bacteria grow, they consume sugars and produce valuable enzymes. Fermented foods are pre-digested. This means that bacteria have already done some of the digestive work for you.
Fermented foods do more than ease your digestive burden. Research tells us that this missing food group may be able to safeguard against a long list of health disorders. (2)
For example, the beneficial bacteria in fermented foods have been found to support the body during:
Fermented foods are the #1 superfood available to enhance digestion and your overall health! Fermented foods are full of friendly bacteria that can provide support for constipation, diarrhea, allergies, urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and much more.
When raw, cruciferous vegetables or dairy are fermented, the nutrients in these foods are enhanced and more available to the body for use.
Fermented foods also give friendly bacteria and yeast a matrix to live in and consume while they move through your digestive system. This means that you are more likely to reap benefits from fermented foods, rather than from a probiotic pill.
One study published last year in the Journal of Dairy Science confirms this. (3) Researchers found that the bacteria in fermented milk had a greater chance of surviving the digestive system than pure bacterial culture—or the equivalent of a probiotic pill.
The biggest issue with the processing methods of probiotics is that the structure that bacteria and yeast live in—or the biofilm—is completely destroyed. Bacteria and yeast naturally produce a slimy, sticky biofilm as they grow. Your fermented food contains biofilm. Biofilm protects microbes and nourishes them as they make their way into the colon.
Beneficial bacteria and yeast are stripped of their biofilm during processing to make probiotic pills. This means that there is less chance that they will survive the harsh acidity of the stomach when swallowed.
In contrast, when you eat fermented foods the beneficial microbes are well equipped to immediately set up residence in your digestive tract.
While a nutritionist may break down for you the amount of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that you need to be healthy—chances are that you will hear little about the friendly bacteria in your gut.
When you decide to approach health with a probiotic diet—rather than a probiotic pill—you are choosing a lifestyle that supports gut health and immune system balance.
The integrity of your gut plays out in every system of your body.
If your inner ecosystem is out of balance, this imbalance could show up where you are weakest. For you, this may be your skin, your joints, or stubborn weight gain.
It is essential to understand that each one of us is home to a unique inner ecosystem. We shape this inner ecosystem with the foods that we eat on a daily basis. When fermented foods become a part of your daily diet, you give your body what it needs to thrive.
We suggest always using the hearty strains of beneficial bacteria present in starter cultures so you are able to control the types of bacteria that flourish, which is impossible during wild fermentation.
Although most of us have been advised to eat more vegetables, it is very rare to hear a recommendation to include more fermented foods in the diet. Yet fermented foods have the power to improve health and balance the inner ecosystem, aiding in digestion and total wellness.
Fermented foods are teeming with beneficial bacteria that could alleviate:
Fermenting vegetables or dairy makes the food even more nutritious and readily available for use in the body. You'll receive the most health benefits from fermented foods versus taking probiotic pills. Fermented foods will support your gut with beneficial microbes; probiotic pills may not make it through the harsh acidity of the stomach.
You can support your inner ecosystem with hardy bacteria found in starter cultures to make fermented foods at home. Eating fermented foods daily will give your body the nutrients it craves to improve overall health!
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