Why Is Fermentation Important? Get Your Gut Health Answers Here!

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Why is fermentation important for gut health? By eating fermented foods, we are able to rebalance our gut flora. This can even improve symptoms of a variety of digestive conditions. Many scientists have carried out research into why fermentation is important, and how it can help us feel and live better. So, if you’ve never heard of kombucha or haven’t got the guts to try sauerkraut, prepare to change your mind. Keep reading to find out more about the gut health diet.

The IBS Epidemic

Despite huge advances in medical science, our gut health remains a mystery. Many of us suffer from a broad range of digestive problems. The common umbrella term ‘irritable bowel syndrome’ covers a myriad of symptoms. From diarrhea to constipation, painful bloating and incessant gas, it’s all known as ‘IBS’. Some find hemp leaf or CBD oil helpful – but how to prevent it in the first lace?

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, you are not alone. In fact, it is estimated that between 10-15% of people suffer from IBS worldwide. IBS can vary from mildly uncomfortable to downright embarrassing, and even severely painful. There is no proven medicinal remedy for IBS, however, research shows that what you eat can make a difference. Here are some top tips for managing your gut health, including through weight loss and increasing good bacteria.

Tip #1 Don’t Eat Late at Night

You may think this is an old wives’ tale but, in fact, research shows that eating late at night can upset our gut health. When you eat a large meal late at night, it may cause a variety of symptoms including acid reflux. Between 8-10pm, your stomach’s acid levels reach a lower than normal production rate. If you eat during or after this time, your body will struggle to digest the meal. This may cause the undigested food to regurgitate up your oesophagus and into your food pipe. It can also cause gas and bloating.

By eating smaller meals regularly throughout the day, you can avoid the nasty side effects associated with a big dinner. Try to eat your evening meal early, around 6pm. This way, you can partake in ‘intermittent fasting’ a proven weight loss technique that requires at least 15 hours between meals. Intermittent fasting is a great way to manage IBS. It relieves strain on your gut in the evening and night times, improving your sleep and aiding weight loss.

Tip #2 Eat Fermented Foods

From kombucha to kimchi, sauerkraut to kefir… it seems like fermented foods are all the rage at the moment, but they date back hundreds of years. Also known as culturing, fermenting foods dates back as far as 6000 BC. When it comes to cultured foods, it’s important to know why fermentation is important.

Fermentation is a method of ‘pre-digestion’ that allows the ‘good bacteria’ in food to be naturally present before you eat it. Over the fermentation process, the bacteria grows, causing a build-up of lactic acid. The lactic acid slows down the growth of ‘bad bacteria’ in food and also gives the food a ‘tangy’ taste.

The presence of ‘good bacteria’ in fermented foods makes them easy to digest and boosts immunity. Cultured foods are often very nutritious and full of B vitamins! Fermented foods can be kept for months, meaning they are great to keep in the cupboards or fridge and add to every meal.

Kombucha

Kombucha is a delicious fermented drink. It’s made from a tea base fermented with a type of “tea fungus” called a symbiotic culture of acetic acid bacteria and yeast, known as SCOBY,  for a period of a week or two. Often with added fruit flavors, kombucha is a delicious and healthy alternative to alcohol or fizzy pop. Due to its fermented nature, kombucha is great for gut health and the perfect fruity beverage for weight loss.

Kefir

Another fermented drink, kefir is different to kombucha in that it’s a richer source of lactic acid. Kefir comes in two variations – water-based and milk-based. The water-based drink is made from fermented coconut milk with added fruit, while the milk-based product is made from cow’s milk. Lactose breaks down in the culturing process, making milk-based kefir easier to digest and a great source of lactic acid and vitamins.

Kimchi

A staple in Korean cooking, kimchi dates back over 700 years. Made from fermented cabbage and Korean radishes, mixed with chili, scallions, garlic, ginger, it’s no doubt that Kimchi packs a punch! Studies show that kimchi is an excellent food to promote good digestion. Not only is the fermented food a great source of ‘good bacteria’ but due to it being made largely of cabbage, it’s an amazing source of fiber. Regular fiber intake is necessary to promote good digestion.

Tempeh

A fantastic meat substitute, tempeh is made by packing together fermented soybeans into a firm block for slicing. Delicious with barbecue flavours or in an Indonesian curry, tempeh is an incredible source of plant protein with 20g per 100g of product. The difference between tempeh and its cousin tofu, which is also made from soybeans, is that tempeh is fermented. As a result, it promotes healthy digestion while being a great plant-based source of protein and fibre. It really is a superfood!

Sauerkraut

Essentially the German version of kimchi, sauerkraut is also made from fermented cabbage. Sauerkraut is very simple and easy to make at home as it is often made from just white cabbage and salt. It’s chock full of beneficial bacteria as well as dietary fiber and other vitamins. Research shows that sauerkraut and kimchi can help to promote weight loss as their high fiber content will make you feel fuller for longer.

Tip #2 Avoid Stress

There is an undeniable link between gut health and the brain. We’ve all had those moments where we’ve felt ‘gut-wrenching’ sadness or belly cramps brought on by nerves. Scientists think that stress can affect every part of the digestive system. The gut is heavily controlled by the central nervous system in the brain and spinal cord.

When you are stressed, the hormone cortisol is released into your system. This can affect your body and brain in a variety of ways, including the induction of the ‘fight or flight response’. Leftover from when we were cavemen, the ‘fight or flight response’ brings us to a heightened state of awareness, allowing us to assess risks (and run away from predators if needs be!). In modern life, the ‘fight or flight response’ can be triggered by all sorts of non-dangerous scenarios, like missing the bus or a job interview. This level of stress can have a direct impact on your digestive system, causing all sorts of symptoms from cramping to diarrhea and bloating.

Avoid stress by being aware of your ‘fight or flight response’. Employ mindfulness techniques to remain in the present moment for longer. This will help when your brain tries to convince you that you’re facing a threat – when in fact you’re just nervous to meet the in-laws!

Why is fermentation important? Now I get it!

All in all, taking care of your gut health is paramount for a healthy lifestyle. Hopefully, this article has helped you to realise why fermentation is important for promoting great gut health, and why you should always eat an early evening meal. What are your favourite fermented foods? Let us know in the comments below. We’ve love to hear from you!

Want some more organic tips for health? Read about indoor oxygenating plants here.


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