The Fermented Craze
What's with all the craze about fermented foods at the moment?
Well, this age old method has worked its way through to the mainstream and for good reason! Throughout centuries, different cultures have used fermented foods for their digestive health benefits.
More and more of us are becoming health conscious and realising that it’s not normal to feel tired all the time. Food really does matter and what we eat has a big impact on how we feel and behave.
Fermented foods are full of goodness and are an important step in getting your health back on track. It’s increasingly easy to buy delicious fermented foods now than ever before but if you can’t then making them at home is doable and fun for everyone.
Fermented foods may taste strange at first as we’re not used to sour flavours and this is a shame because the liver loves sour flavours. It helps it to function the way it should, to filter and to detox. Foods high in sugars have dominated our supermarket shelves and so some people need to retrain their taste buds. Kombucha is a fantastic way to start as it has a sweet and sour taste that many people find delicious.
A Personal Journey
I’ve been an avid fermented foods maker since I rocked up in London looking for a new life, back in 2006. My diet of fried chicken, chips, cheese and cider had taken it’s toll on my digestion and so feeling desperate and very, very uncomfortable I went to see a Naturopath in North London. After my consultation, she told me all about fermented foods and I bought a big jar of Beetroot & Juniper Sauerkraut from her. I felt better and I felt nourished. I was hooked and I still am to this day.
I started making my own Kombucha and Sauerkraut at home. Some with success and some disasters too! I went to a fantastic Sandor Katz event and was glued to every word he spoke about how fermented foods had helped him keep healthy with HIV….I highly recommend you check out his fermentation books if you haven’t already.
The fermented foods bug bit me because my IBS started to improve and my cravings for junk all but disappeared, including my sugar cravings. I had been addicted to bread, energy drinks, alcohol and fatty foods for years so when those cravings arose I would reach for a glass of Kombucha or a fork-full or two of Sauerkraut instead. I lost weight and my energy returned as I was able to make healthier foods choices and eat when I was truly hungry, not binge. With each meal I would have something fermented on the side. It wasn’t easy to buy these foods back then, not unpasteurised anyway and you couldn’t buy Kombucha so I had to be disciplined in making them at home. Now there’s so much choice in our health food shops and even supermarkets are starting to open up to raw fermented foods which is wonderful headway (thank you Waitrose!).
I hesitate that this may sound sensational because there are a lot of misleading articles online that people in genuinely desperate need hang onto without the understanding that we need to address mind, body and spirit to be able to heal. So just to be clear, to help my digestion woes I did other things too like meditation, stress reduction exercises including chi-gong and deep belly breathing and also colonic hydrotherapy.
I gradually changed my diet to a plant based one which still included small amounts of turkey, fish and eggs. It’s important to calm the nerves with IBS so you must be willing to recognise your life stresses and seek the appropriate help to get results. There’s nothing like seeing a qualified health practitioner face to face.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of fermented foods and drinks:
- Fermentation creates natural acids that work in synergy with the body’s own pH balance (a stressed body is an acidic body).
- The beneficial bacteria absorbed from fermented foods and drinks inhibit harmful bacteria in the digestive system.
- Fermented foods aid digestion and help to break down other foods (when eaten together) making them easier to digest and thus more absorbable.
- 70-80% of our immune cells are in the gut. Fermented foods stimulate gut bacteria that help with immunity thus protecting us from viruses and pathogens. If you get colds often then try introducing fermented foods and reducing your sugar intake.
- Fermented foods are natural detoxifiers, heavy metal chelators and can help us recover from antibiotic use.
- Energy levels may increase as other foods become more digestible and their nutrients more absorbable.
- Creates healthy terrain in our gut. When our gut is healthy and we’re digesting properly, brain fog, mood swings, depression, anxiety and even headaches can reduce. 90% of our serotonin (happy hormone) is actually produced in the gut so it’s vital to keep the gut in tip top shape!
Fermented foods are not a panacea but they will help you on your journey to better gut health which always leads to better overall health and immunity.
I hope you all have a little take home inspiration from this article and will try adding some fermented foods to your diet today!