Fermented foods are some of the most underrated, least understood, and “best for you” foods around!
Foods rich in probiotics have undergone a process of lactofermentation whereby the natural bacteria in the food feed on the sugar and starches, creating lactic acid. This fermentation process preserves the food, creates helpful enzymes for the gut, and breaks down the food into a more digestible form. The introduction of beneficial bacteria into your system aids in digestion, and helps you absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat. That being said, it makes sense to provide the gut (which is a large part of our immune system) with the healthiest, most probiotic, foods possible. And remember, unless you make your own fermented foods at home, it’s wise to check the labels on these foods before buying them.
Pickles are a fun and easy way to embrace fermented foods. They have plenty of probiotics, and are delicious as well. Natural food stores stock naturally fermented brands, so that may be a good place to start if you’re hesitant about fermented foods.
Kombucha tea is a fizzy, fermented, black tea usually sold at health food stores around the country. It’s great because it contains four to seven different microorganisms, which help to build a strong gut, but watch out for added sugar. Kombucha tea is an acquired taste, and many manufacturers add extra sugar to make it more palatable.
Sauerkraut is basically just fermented cabbage, but the health benefits it provides are amazing. It has a positive and powerful impact of brain health, including depression and anxiety. It is easy to make at home and uses only cabbage and salt. Kimchi is a spicy Korean dish also made from fermented cabbage. It may be found in spice levels from mild to really hot. It is excellent for your digestive health.
Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans and grains. It is chock full of body-essential minerals such as potassium and lots of healthy microorganisms that your immune system needs. To make soup, boil a pot of water and add mushrooms, onions, and the like. Take the soup off of the heat and add a spoonful or two to the pot. The miso will dissolve leaving you with a hearty and delicious soup.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and is used in a variety of ways. It can be baked, fried, sautéed, sliced, diced, or crumbled. It is a great substitute for meat and can replace the corned beef in a Rueben sandwich, the meat in a Sloppy Joe, or the bacon in a BLT. On top of all that, it is also a complete protein containing all essential amino acids.