Your gut is alive with millions of bacteria – good and harmful ones. These inhabitants play a big role in your gut health, which in turn, contributes to your physical and mental wellbeing.
Research shows that you can support your immune system and reduce inflammation by better balancing the bacteria demographic of your gut. By digesting good bacteria and moving friendly microorganisms into your gut neighbourhood, you can create a climate that is conducive to good health.
Your digestive system is a complex organism that’s affected by our modern lifestyle – stress, sleep, and antibiotics all play a part but it’s what you put into your system that matters most.
The food that you eat plays a key role in achieving bacteria balance. Processed or high-sugar foods can tip the scales in the wrong way. But if you include fermented foods in your diet you can experience the benefits of good gut health and tip the scales back in your favour.
What is fermentation?
Fermentation is an ancient way to prepare food that is traditional too many cultures. Today it’s making a modern comeback as more people buy or learn to make fermented foods.
The slow and natural process breaks down carbohydrates and sugars so that we end up with food products that are easier to digest. These foods are full of live cultures that contain the good bacteria (probiotics) that science shows us we need to grow good gut flora.
Probiotic means ‘for life’ and these positive life organisms live naturally in our gut. We can also boost their numbers by eating healthy, fermented foods that support good gut health.
Which foods can improve my gut bacteria?
Here’s our pick of fermented foods that taste good and can also do you good:
Yoghurt is one of the most readily available probiotic foods, and it’s easy to add a serve to your breakfast cereal or a fruit snack.
When this fermented tea is made the live bacteria and yeast eat the sugars, so kombucha becomes a low carb fizzy drink that is beneficial for gut health.
Cabbage is the fermented ingredient in sauerkraut, which is full of fibre, vitamins and probiotics. It’s a sour tasting condiment or side dish that contains enzymes that support digestion.
Kefir is a yoghurt-like drink that’s fermented by adding starter culture. These ‘grains’ multiply and transform the milk’s sugar (lactose) into good bacteria that you can enjoy.
5. Pickled Vegetables
Pickles are a classic food and a great way to preserve vegetables. Almost any vegetable can be pickled if soaked in salt brine or vinegar long enough for fermentation to take place.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
This ancient natural remedy is made from fermented apple juice. Apple cider vinegar is a great probiotic you can drink in small doses or use as salad dressing. It is said to support weight loss.
Tempeh is a popular protein and probiotic source made from fermented soybeans. It’s commonly used as a meat-substitute in stir-fry dishes.
8. Sourdough Bread
Sourdough is made more slowly than modern bread and with less ingredients. The flour, water and ‘starter’ create natural yeasts and lactobacilli (good bacteria) that make it easy to digest.
9. Green Peas
The humble green pea contains a potent probiotic, which can aid your digestive system. It’s easy to add fresh peas to dinner dishes like pasta or curries or salads.
10. Garlic, Leeks & Onions
These staple ingredients add great flavour to meals. They also taste pretty good to your gut bacteria. Their unique prebiotic fibre feeds and nourishes the good bacteria in your digestive system.