What are fermented foods?
Fermented foods have been used for centuries across various cultures. From sauerkraut in Russia to cheese in Baghdad and vegetables buried in earthen pots by Native Americans, these foods have been valued for hundreds of years. When you ferment a food, you encourage the growth of "good" microorganisms, while preventing the growth of spoilage-causing microorganisms. Fermentation often improves the biological value of your foods, so it increases the nutritional value for your digestion.
Beneficial bacteria is a natural part of the food chain, that when coupled with active enzymes, ensure the foods we eat are effectively absorbed, broken down and utilised by our body.
Modern research shows that beneficial bacteria help balance the gut flora in your digestive system and reduce the levels of toxic pathogens that cause ill health. Additional research also suggests that the regular consumption of live lactobacilli bacteria can improve your gut flora and reduce the number of infections by reducing harmful bacteria.
The fermented foods that Maria uses includes liquids, powders and vegetables which are made from organic grains, greens, legumes, herbs, algae and live lactobacilli bacteria.
Why they're important
In my practise I often hear people say they are tired of being lethargic, they suffer from food and seasonal allergies, they experience migraines or feel tired after eating a main meal. And I am sure they’re not alone in experiencing these imbalances.
As many people know it‘s difficult to be at optimal health if your gut and digestion aren’t in good working order. The gut is the first line of defence for the immune system so a dysfunctional gut can have serious implications for your overall health and wellbeing.
A large number of health concerns and diseases can be traced back to a problems; an overload of toxicity from stress, an unhealthy diet and excessive exposure to chemicals and pollutants in the environment. And all of these are integral to your gut and digestive health.
Why digestion is important
As adults we have approximately 2 kilograms of bacteria in the lining of our gut and bowel wall. Those 2 kilograms are compiled of approximately 85% beneficial bacteria and 15% harmful bacteria.
We can function quite well with this balance of bacteria, however stress, poor diet, malabsorption, taking the contraceptive pill or antibiotics; or environmental and chemical pollutants, viruses or parasites, can disturb this delicate balance; a condition we call a ‘dysbiosis’.
Research suggests that 95% of serotonin neurotransmitters and feel-good hormones come from our gut rather than our brain, and 85% of our immune system is manufactured in the lining of our gut wall.*
So a compromised gut does more than interfere with digestion, it may also alter your immune system and upset your hormonal balance. A dysbiosis can even make it difficult for you to think clearly and is known to cause anxiety, depression and mood swings. If you have a dysbiosis you may experience immune imbalances such as an increase in colds, allergies, autoimmune disorders, skin rashes, fatigue, headaches, intestinal upsets and a slower ability to heal.
As you’ve by now realised, it’s imperative you look after your gut. To ensure optimum health, we must ensure we maintain the delicate balance of bacteria throughout our lives. Even if you follow a healthy diet, you can still become nutrient and mineral deficient if your digestive system isn’t keeping up. Taking higher doses of supplements isn’t always the answer but correcting your digestive system is definitely an essential place to start.
Many people ask me, ‘can’t my body correct itself?’ and the answer is, ‘yes, it can, with the best support available’. Your body is remarkable given that every 5 days; the lining in your gut turns over, giving your body the chance to create a new and healthy environment full of good bacteria.
This beneficial bacteria help break down foods and extract essential vitamins and minerals from what we consume. They are responsible for our production of vitamins and assimilation, cholesterol metabolism, controlling glucose levels and normalising bowel motions. But this ‘good’ bacteria helps not only to stimulate digestive health but also supports a healthy immune system.
Over the past years I’ve worked with clients to rebuild their gut and digestive systems by introducing cultured foods and fermented liquids and powders. I have found the benefits of these foods to be overwhelming; they’re fast and effective in helping the body rid itself of toxins and provide essential nutrients for healing. I've seen many clients recover their health, rebuild their immunity and regain their energy, no matter what age!
When fermented foods are fully incorporated into your daily regime you really will notice the health benefits, including lower cholesterol, efficient digestive functioning and a stronger immune system. Not only that, you’ll also be strengthening your defences and reducing the risk of future imbalances.
So remember to avoid overloading your gut with toxins and aim to include small doses of fermented foods in between daily indulgences and you will reap the health benefits.
*Sourcing: Dr Michael Gershon, The Second Brain, 1999.