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Are you being good to your gut? Poor digestion is your gut’s way of telling you something’s wrong. But many people have symptoms of digestive discomfort and brush them off without realizing there’s a problem. Gut troubles aren’t normal, and they could indicate signs of a bigger health concern.
Giving your gut more attention and replenishing it with beneficial bacteria can relieve symptoms of gut discomfort. It could even stop serious health problems before they start.
Fermented foods are foods that have been colonized by bacteria beneficial to the human body. These bacteria, cultivated using the Body Ecology Vegetable Starter Culture to ferment at home, nourish the inner ecology of the gut and influence the health of the entire body.
The good bacteria in fermented foods produce lactic acid. This helps maintain a healthy pH in the gut. The right balance of acid and alkaline is critical — it can inhibit the growth of unfriendly bacteria or yeast like candida, which can irritate the gut lining and trigger inflammatory signaling.1
Good bacteria also metabolize certain parts of food, especially the fibrous parts of food the body can’t digest.2,3 As they metabolize food in the gut, helping to break it down, they also synthesize their own food molecules — for example, short chain fatty acids. Surrounding cells can use these short chain fatty acids as a source of nutrition and energy.
Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria, and those bacteria are actually enzymes too.
They act upon the food, breaking it down so that it’s useable in small amounts. They also break down and extract the nutrients so they can be absorbed into the body; when you eat foods, they’re meant to be broken down.4 Otherwise, they can't be absorbed. The enzymes and the bacteria play a critical role in making this happen.
New to Body Ecology? Our BE 101 course provides an introduction on how to take back control of your health.
You can think of the good bacteria in fermented foods as “old friends” to your digestive tract. They work closely with the immune system and can actually protect the gut in times of stress, when it’s inflamed or when harmful bacteria and yeast begin to grow in numbers.
With proven health benefits this impressive, it’s easy to overlook one of the biggest advantages of eating fermented foods.
They’re convenient. Also called “nature’s fast food,” batches of cultured vegetables are easy to make and store at home to have on hand to eat as a tangy side with every meal.
Donna Gates is the international best-selling author and fermented foods pioneer behind The Body Ecology Diet. Find out more about Donna's mission to change the way the world eats.
Today, 15 percent of the world’s population has IBS.12 And according to Dr. Allison Siebecker, a pioneer in SIBO awareness and treatment, SIBO makes up 60 percent of those numbers.13 Stress, eating out, increased traveling, and a disturbed microbiome from diseases, drugs, gallbladder removal, and food poisoning are often the culprits. These factors can all impact the migrating motor complex in the body, responsible for flushing out material from the small intestine that shouldn't be there.
While antimicrobials are often used for treatment, diet can help manage the symptoms of SIBO. Symptoms may include bloating, constipation/diarrhea, discomfort, regurgitation, nausea, acid reflux, and more. In these cases, it helps to consider the Principle of Uniqueness to determine which foods are the best fit for your unique body. The foods you choose will vary based on the type of microbes in your gut, among other factors.
Changing diet and taking a prokinetic are the first steps when using the Principle of Step-by-Step. If you are still experiencing symptoms, fermented foods may need to be avoided as many people with SIBO don’t respond well to D-lactate produced by probiotic bacteria. For these people, bifidobacteria may be a more soothing option to the gut.
Eating for optimal gut health can be nutritious and delicious. Check out our full collection of Body Ecology recipes here.
Taking a probiotic capsule is convenient and beneficial, but remember, eating fermented foods is convenient too. Even more importantly, fermented foods provide an actual food source for the good guys in your gut. The microbiota and inner ecosystem become a line of defense so that if you do eat something bad in the future (even after the gut is healed), you won’t be at risk for issues like SIBO or food poisoning. The majority of SIBO comes from contaminated food. Fortunately, cultured vegetables filled with rich microbes can eat up anything dangerous that tries to come into the gut. Because the bacteria in cultured vegetables are alchemistic, they also help change toxins like mercury into useful amino acids.
For optimal health, microbial diversity in the gut is key.
In a 2017 report, higher gut diversity was linked to slowed cancer growth in patients undergoing treatment.14 Plantarum in cultured vegetables, taken alongside the bacteria in a probiotic capsule, can provide even more benefits to the body.
One important secret to making really delicious yet medicinal cultured veggies is to use freshly harvested, organic, well-cleaned vegetables. After washing the veggies, spin them dry. Clean equipment is essential. Scald everything you use in very hot water.
If you’re new to fermented foods and are eager to give your gut this unrivaled support, start here first:
If you’re ready to ferment without any tutorial needed, this is where to begin:
Good gut changes take time. Fermented foods contain bacteria that help to change the environment of the gut and protect the gut so pathogens can't grow there. And by keeping a cleaner, healthier gut, they're preventing a lot of the gas and bloating from occurring. In the beginning though, fermented foods can actually appear to cause more gas and bloating because the bacteria are starting to move into the intestines and clean up the area.
These bacteria have to change the environment so that they and their future descendants can survive. So, they will clean the gut, and in the process of that change that’s occurring in the environment in your gut, there will often be a battle.
If you were to paint a living room, you would pull everything away to the center of the room. For a while, it will look like chaos before you finish painting the walls and put everything back together. Clean and put it all back, and then the room will look great. That's exactly what's happening with the beneficial bacteria in your gut. They're trying to create a whole new world by disrupting the dysfunctional system that may exist inside your body.
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