Do you know how many people suffer from some kind of dysbiosis—meaning the colonies of friendly gut bacteria are off-balance? If you suffer from gastrointestinal issues, it could be due to less friendly microbes than unfriendly strains. The typical Western diet has a tendency to reduce the diversity of the flora in our digestive tract, and we don’t feel as good as we could.
Fortunately, fermented foods can help rebalance your body’s microbiome, helping you feel good again, and they aren’t as hard to get into your diet as you might think.
Common fermented foods you should include in your diet are pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, yogurt, and kimchi. Let’s talk about why you should include these foods.
1. You Come Into Contact With Bad Bacteria Daily
Even if you take precautions, you will always come into contact with harmful bacteria. Not everything affects your body, obviously, or you’d always be sick. However, if your body doesn’t have enough of the good, it will have a much harder time fighting off the bad, and you’ll be sick more often.
Friendly bacteria make it harder for bad bacteria to live. You want a range of good bacteria to take up residence in the lining of your intestines, crowding out the ‘bad stuff.’ Chances are, you’ll still run into colds here and there, but it won’t be as often, and your digestion should operate better overall.
2. Fermented Foods Help when you Take Antibiotics
We often hear that antibiotics are horrible and overused, but the truth is, antibiotics are wonderful, life-saving medicines that definitely have their place. Like any drug, they can be used correctly, or overused. And sometimes, they’re what you need to fight an infection.
Antibiotics kill everything in its path, making no distinction between your microbial allies or enemies. They can’t tell the difference, but your body can. This is why when you take antibiotics, it’s common to run into stomach issues, even if they’re working for their intended purpose.
Fermented foods help your body maintain a proper balance of good and bad bacteria, so you feel your best—even during those times when you couldn’t avoid a course of antibiotics.
3. Fermented Foods Could Help your Body Process Vitamins
Not all nutrients are easily processed. You can take supplements and eat nutritious foods, but that doesn’t mean they will help your body the way they were meant to.
In some cases, foods and vitamins need friendly bacteria to help them break down so that your body can use them. Fermented foods can keep your microbiome at the ready so that you can absorb all of the wonderful things you’re eating to nourish your body.
4. Helps Digest Fiber
Fiber is good for you, and your body needs it, but you can’t process all types of dietary fiber on your own. Whole grains, oats, and beans are a few examples that your microbiome helps you digest.
If you get an upset stomach when you eat certain foods, it’s because your body can’t break them down on its own. Instead, it needs the help of friendly bacteria. If your body doesn’t have enough good bacteria, they sit in your stomach like a lead balloon. Consuming fermented foods, however, can help you digest them easier.
5. Good Bacteria May Fight Certain Illnesses
If you have enough good bacteria, your body has an added layer of defense against conditions such as allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and even obesity which comes with its own category of associated conditions.
How to Increase your Fermented Food Consumption
So how do you get more fermented food into your diet?
Here are a few examples.
- Add homemade sauerkraut to sandwiches, burritos, and even your morning eggs
- Eat yogurt or kefir with breakfast or lunch (look for the live and active cultures label)
- Make smoothies with yogurt or kefir
- Have frozen yogurt for a ‘nighttime snack’ (homemade)
- Make a yogurt salad dressing
- Add homemade pickled vegetables to your sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and tacos
- Drink kombucha
Humans have a long history of eating fermented foods. if you think outside the box, it’s not as hard as you think. The key is to have primarily homemade foods and to find ways to sneak fermented foods into them.
Yogurt and kefir are the easiest additions to any diet, but you can add kombucha to your daily drinks and pickle vegetables on the weekend, so you have them all week to add to your foods. Start slow and get your taste buds used to the new taste; before you know it, you’ll crave the flavors, and your body will feel much better.