How to Boost Your Health & Digestion: Eat Probiotic Rich Foods!

Do you really want to Boost your Health and support Digestion with Real Foods? Then adding fermented foods (aka beneficial bacteria yes you read this right!) to your diet on a daily basis should be top of your list! Discover why, which foods are they, and where you can get them to get started right away.

WHY?
Over the last decade, more and more research has highlighted the importance of a healthy gut flora in optimising our health and our gut flora or gut microbiota is influenced by what we eat, drink, the drugs we take (including hormonal therapies) but also our lifestyle. “Diet is a central issue when it comes to preserving our gastrointestinal health, because by eating and digesting we literally feed our gut microbiota, and thus influence its diversity and composition,” says Professor Francisco Guarner, microbiota expert at the University Hospital Valld’Hebron, Barcelona, Spain.

Our gut microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, including at least 1000 different species of known bacteria with more than 3 million genes (150 times more than human genes). In other words, the bacterial population in your intestine is like an individual Identity Card!

Microbial colonization begins at birth, stabilises as we become healthy adults and influences human physiology, metabolism, digestive, endocrine, immune and nervous systems. However disruption/imabalance to the gut flora has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions (from bloating & gas to Inflammatory Bowel Disease), immune mediated diseases such as Coeliac and certain allergies, metabolic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even behavioural disorders such as autism and depression. Although “dysbiosis” (fancy word for microbial imbalance) can have many causes such as infectious pathogens and/or antibiotics, the truth is our Diet & Lifestyle have a massive impact. In addition to cleaning up your diet, eliminate processed foods/drinks, refined sugars, educate yourself before taking any medication, manage stress levels and move & laugh!, one of the easiest ways you can support your gut health is to consume a range of fermented foods daily.

HOW?
Fermented foods have been used for thousands of years: whether it’s veggies, dairy, nuts, beans or grains this was primarily done to preserve food for longer but we now know that it also creates easily digested probiotic rich foods that can boost your gut flora and as a result boost our overall health.

Fermented foods are simply full of beneficial probiotic bacteria. Organic fruit and vegetables, the dust on our soils, and all plant matter are coated with Lactobacilli and yeasts. When you ferment a food, you allow beneficial bacteria and yeast to colonize and feed on the food. It’s a simple biological process by which sugars are converted into cellular energy and lactic acid which helps preserve the food. But this fermentation process also makes the nutrients in the food more bio-available. For instance, the amount of bioavailable vitamin C in sauerkraut is 20 times higher than in the same helping of fresh cabbage! This is because in the fresh cabbage, vitamin C is bound in the cellulose structure, which can be more difficult to digest and absorb. As specific health-promoting bacteria grow, they consume sugars and produce valuable enzymes. Fermented foods are therefore pre-digested making them easy to digest. By supporting a healthy microbiome, these foods help bring renewed health to your whole body.

BENEFITS OF GIVING YOUR GUT A HUG:

Digestive Health
Fermented foods are more easily digested and rich in probiotic bacteria to support digestion. This enables you to digest fats, proteins and carbohydrates more easily as well as provide support to the gut barrier lining. They are particularly beneficial to take after antibiotics to reinoculate the gut flora.

Immune Health
About 80% of your immune system actually resides in your gut! Probiotics play a key role in the development and operation of the mucosal immune system in your digestive tract. A healthy gut is essential for a robust immune system and can be effective to reduce risk of allergies and inflammatory conditions. Fermented foods like Kefir also provide a wealth of amino acids which are equally important for immune function

Detoxification
Fermented foods are fabulous for cleansing the body. Known for their chelating properties beneficial bacteria in these foods are potent detoxifiers, capable of drawing out toxins and heavy metals.

Weight loss
Studies have shown that probiotics may help fight obesity. For example a 2011 study published in the journal Nutrition Research found that fermented kimchi had a significant impact on the weight and body fat of the overweight and obese patients who were being studied. Patients shed both weight and fat, and showed improvements in blood sugar too. Restoring gut flora is therefore a key part of any weight loss programme.

Urinary Tract Infections
Beneficial yeasts and bacteria in fermented foods can help in fighting UTI's (Urinary Tract Infections), which are typically caused by an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria.

Children’s Health
Probiotics have beneficial effects at all stages of life, including the very early ones. studies show the beneficial effect of certain probiotics on gastroenteritis, colic, eczema, diarrhoea and necrotizing enterocolitis (a condition in premature children that leads to tissue death in parts of the bowel) in children. Moreover, according to several prevention studies, probiotics, such as the thoroughly investigated Lactobacillus rhamnosus, may support disease prevention in children who tend to have reduced microbiota diversity as they are not breast-fed, have been exposed to antibiotics or are born via Caesarean section. In all these cases, the development of a rich and balanced gut microbiota is likely to be delayed or impeded. Including fermented foods regularly can help to reinoculate the gut flora.

FERMENTED FOODS LIST
There is a big difference between homemade fermented foods and shop bought versions. Many commercial varieties are not only packed in salt, sugar and vinegar but are pasteurized which destroys much of the beneficial bacteria. Beware of some “probiotic”
yogurts, too. Many contain added sugars and syrups and levels of beneficial bacteria are typically lower than homemade versions. I personally recommend the brand Pama Raw as I’ve been in their kitchen!! Small team making fermented foods with LOVE in North London.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is based on shredded cabbage, which provides plenty of vitamin C, vitamin K and fibre, and may include other vegetables such as carrot. Always buy organic raw sauerkraut as many commercial brands will be heat-treated and will lack any beneficial bacteria! Taking a couple of spoonfuls with each meal is an easy natural way to boost your beneficial bacteria
Kimchi

Popular Korean fermented food,source of vitamin A, C and B. While recipes vary it normally contains fermented cabbage, carrots and other vegetables as well as spices including garlic, ginger, chilli.

Kefir

This ancient cultured food is rich in amino acids, enzymes, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and B vitamins. Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria (Lactobacilluscaucasus, Leuconostoc,Acetobacter species, and Streptococcusspecies) as well as beneficial yeasts, which can support digestive function and immune health. It is made with kefir ‘grains’, which are not actually a grain but a mother culture. Although cow’s milk is typically used, it can be made with sheep’s milk, coconut or nut milk. You can also make water kefir using water grains.
Kombucha

Called the ‘Immortal Health Elixir’ by the ancient Chinese, Kombucha has been consumed for more than 2,000 years. It is made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (known as SCOBY). It is rich in many enzymes your body produces for digestion and it aids liver health & cleansing. Kombucha containsglucosamines, which are beneficial for cartilage structure and to prevent arthritis. It is also antioxidant rich and good for immune health.
Live Yoghurt / Coconut Yoghurt


A popular traditional foodyogurt is typically made from dairy. Homemade yogurt is healthier than shop bought and richer in probiotic bacteria. Use high quality organic and grass-fed whole milk for best benefits. Depending on how long it has been fermented for yoghurt will contain less lactose than milk, which can be helpful for anyone with lactose intolerance. You can also make yoghurt from coconut and nut milks to make it dairy free.


Interested in making your own fermented foods?
-Buy Fermented foods Starter Kits online here or go to Planet Organic and other health food stores
- Buy Fermented foods Recipe book here
-Check out Online recipes here or here for example.
-Ask me directly for fermented foods course in London

Where to buy Fermented Foods from:
-Planet Organic, or any health shop. ALWAYS buy raw &
unpasteurised and ideally organic.
-Pama Raw. They are also distributed in some health stores.
-London Borough Market & other markets in
london