All you Need to Know: Fermented Foods
Since our naturopath Anastasia joined us last year, we've all been eating miso, sauerkraut and kimchi on the daily and it seems the trend is catching on - fermentation is the new buzzword of the wellness world, with fermented products popping up everywhere - even Pret have a kombucha on the menu are their recent veggie pop up. And so they should - fermented foods are key to gut health, and good gut health is the key to a healthy, happy body that works as it should. If that alone isn't enough of a selling point to join the fermenting bandwagon, then read on to find out more - we can guarantee you'll be reaching for the kimchi in no time.
WHAT ARE FERMENTED PRODUCTS
There are various types of fermented products, but the most popular is vegetable based. To break it down, it is basically veggies mixed with salt and/or whey, then either pounded to release the juices or added to a mix of salt and water and left in a sealed mason jar to ferment for 3 days. The salt prevents decomposing bacteria for several days until enough lactic acid is produced to preserve the vegetables so they last for many months - sounds kinda gross, but tastes great and your gut loves it.
There are also other types of fermented products: kombucha and kefir namely, which work a little differently. These basically stem from a source of yeast and bacteria, which are submerged in liquid and left to ferment for up to 10 days so all the goodness is released into the liquid, resulting in a gut-loving drink.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Great question. Looking at the science of it: fermentation is the biological process by which the sugars in the ingredients (glucose/fructose/sucrose) are converted into lactic acid. When the acidity rises due to this, many harmful micro-organisms are killed, which is why it is used by countless cultures worldwide to preserve vegetables when they couldn't be refrigerated. Luckily for your gut, fermenting is also a great way to enhance the nutritional profile of ingredients with the lactic acid produced working wonders for your gut flora.
AND WHY SHOULD WE EAT THEM?
Where to even start? Fermented products are the ultimate body loving food - so much so that we're going to have to bullet point them:
- They increase and restore good gut flora, with the lactic acid produced promoting the growth of healthy flora in the intestine.
- It helps in removing toxins from the body (in a very long and confusing way - just believe us on this one!)
- It increases the vitamin A and vitamin C levels in the food, as well as enhancing the digestibility.
- It helps you absorb nutrients better by healing and improving your gut flora. When this isn't working as it should, your body won't absorb the nutrients in the food you're eating.
- It supports our immune function, with chronic inflammation of the gut (which fermented foods help heal) being linked to the beginning of lots common diseases.
HOW DO I GET SOME?
Luckily fermented foods are on the rise, although we're still pretty far behind all of our neighbours (kombucha is now as popular on menus as cola is here in a lot of Europe). The best place to find the largest range of the highest quality would be health food stores such as planet organic, whole foods and independents, and polish stores are also a great place to find sauerkraut and kefir (likewise with asian stores for your kimchi).
The best on the market currently? We love these:
Sauerkraut: Raw health fresh sauerkraut
Kimchi: Laurie's hot + smoky kimchi kraut (seriously so good, we eat this pretty much everyday!)
Kombucha: Love kombucha ginger
Kefir: Rhythm raw coconut kefir
We're also working on an exciting probiotic box of our own, full of fermented goodness, so keep your eyes peeled for updates! You can always try your luck at making your own too, the easiest to start with is fermented vegetables, we recommend using radishes, cabbage, garlic, ginger or beetroot.