Are you looking after your gut flora, people? If you’re not sure then join the club.
I remember being shocked a few years back when I learned that 80% of our immune system resided in the gut. Really? Who knew? But with more science pointing to the importance of optimising our gut condition, it is clear that in order to stave off disease and inflammation in our bodies we need to take this seriously. And with an emerging gut-brain link, we also know that a bad gut can be behind all kinds of mental and psychological conditions too, like depression, anxiety, ADHD and so on. In the future, these conditions may be treated with supplements and diet rather than pharmaceuticals. The well informed and always relevant Dr Mercola has got several good articles on the science behind gut health (and lots of other things too) and its consequences. It’s worth doing the research. It’s quite an eye opener.
You have probably heard a lot about fermented foods becoming more popular and it is because they provide so much to our microbiome, the community of bacteria in our intestines and digestive tracts. But what is fermented foods and how do we access it? It turns out that it is easier than you think. Below is a list of the top 10 healthiest fermented fruit and vegetables by Dr. Axe. and the good news is that you can make some of these things yourself at home.
Top 10 Healthiest Fermented Fruit and Vegetables
- Kefir – you can read more here about what’s so special with Kefir and how to make this delicious yoghurt-like drink at home. I grew up on Kefir, it was a breakfast staple in Sweden and I learned to love the tart and tangy flavour. But if the flavour is not you, just neck a small amount down quickly and be done with it.
- Kombucha – a refreshing, slightly fizzy, drink which does wonders for your gut. You can order your starter culture here and find out just how to produce your own bottles at home. I do this every week and I love the look of old-fashioned glass bottles in my fridge filled with something that I have made – that isn’t juice :). A blog about making Kombucha is coming soon.
- Sauerkraut – one of my all time favourite fermented foods. I’m partially German so I’m loving sauerkraut’s new superstar status in the world of probiotic health. Just to be clear, we are not talking about the heated up variety that then gets shoved into a glass jar and sold at Tesco’s. It’s the raw, organic and fermented variety, cultured and shredded until the cabbage has finished fermenting. Get your recipe here.
- Pickled vegetables – pickled anything and I’m a fan. There is something with vinegar that either turns you on or off. Like Marmite, there are no grey areas. I’m all over it! Knowing it is good for you is an added bonus if you’re already a pickle fan. If not, there are enough other probiotic foods you can get your hands on.
- Miso – buy this in a health food shop or somewhere you know the soybeans are not GM. Go for organic, non-GMO and be selective. The right stuff can have amazing benefits for your skin and bone health. Just make clever choices. Health food shops will have the stuff you w
- Tempeh – you can do this yourself (although I’ve never dared so perhaps that should be my next challenge) by adding a tempeh starter. See recipe here.
- Natto – again, fermented soy beans that change characteristics through the process of fermenting. Apparently, in Japan where it originates from, you either love Natto or hate it. A breakfast dish (yes, really) that keeps on giving. That it is good for your gut goes without saying and you can learn how to make it at home here.
- Kimchi – a traditional Korean dish made of fermented cabbage and spices with a not so subtle hint of heat! It’s served with most dishes in Korea (and elsewhere) and has been around since the 7th century. Although there are many varieties of kimchi, this is a basic version that will do the job. Find out how to make it here.
- Raw Cheese – raw means unpasteurized and not sterilised so you need to make sure it’s been aged sufficiently for any salmonella or listeria to not linger and to choose your sources carefully. Dr Axe recommends cheeses made with goat’s or sheep’s milk only.
- Yoghurt – probiotic and fermented this is the most recognised form of gut friendly aides. Again, it does not mean a sugary ‘yoghurt drink’ from your local supermarket – any goodness that may have been there before is well and truly gone due to exorbitant sugar levels. Again, try to look for goats or sheep’s milk yoghurt and ideally grass fed and organic too.
So there you have it. Why not start making something today? It is rather fun to feel you are in charge of your own gut health – probiotic supplements are expensive and although you may have to supplement off and on (perhaps if you’ve been on antibiotics or other medication which kills off good and bad bacteria) it is good to know the skills involved in making your own.