The modern world is looking for magic pill, magic food or magic self care technique to help them with their issues. Have you found it? It doesn’t exist. An overall diet and lifestyle built to decrease stress and inflammation is the key, in my opinion. In addition, I am a true believer in Functional Medicine practices, which looks at the underlying root cause of issues, not just treating the symptom. A foundational concept of Functional Medicine is looking at your entire body, and the basis that your gut health dictates much of your overall health.
One foundational strategy to supporting your gut health is focusing on fermented foods.
Lacto-fermentation, is the process used centuries ago to can foods, preserve freshness and protect food from spoiling.
During the process of fermenting, organisms (mostly bacteria) feast on the sugars that are naturally occurring in the food, multiply and convert to lactic acid, which helps preserve the food. In addition to preserving food, many benefits are noted for the body.
Summarized well by Sally Fallon in her book, Nourishing Traditions:
The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti carcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.
You can ferment many different types of foods, including dairy products, breads, vegetables, and even condiments but some easy ways to get fermented foods into your diet include:
- Kefir, water or dairy based
- Pickles (if not vinegar based)
**Keep in mind the food options are going to be better for you than the drinks. But a kombucha drink is still a much better alternative than soda or juice. Think of it as a bonus fermented beverage, but try to incorporate a food in also.
To get you started incorporating these nourishing foods into your diet, I’ll cover a few brands we like and tips to get you going.
- Farmhouse Culture sells various gut health shots, fermented veggies and sauerkrauts. A couple of our favorites are the Ginger Carrots for topping on salads and the Smoked Jalapeno sauerkraut.
- Wild Brine also makes a great classic sauerkraut and our Costco even sells a big container of it. We also like the red beet and cabbage variety.
- Bubbies has great dill pickles. Note, not all of Bubbies products are fermented.
- Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Products. We do the plain yogurt and kefir.
- Paleovalley has delicious fermented beef and turkey sticks that our boys love. (use code EMBRACEWELLNESS10 for 10% off)
- Tea-biotics Kombucha is local to Kansas City and most flavors don’t have added sugar.
Tips When Buying
- Avoid added sugars in any of the products, especially dairy and kombucha. Opt for plain dairy products and you can sweeten yourself and the total sugar content will likely be much less.
- On the label, organic is ideal and raw is a must. Raw means no heat has been used, therefore preserving the bacteria.
- When looking for the pickled veggies, sauerkraut and condiments, keep in mind these will be in the refrigerated section of your store, not within the isles.
- Make sure the ingredients say salt and not vinegar.
If you are interested in making your own fermented products, that is one thing I cover in my Gut Health Reboot Program.
Tips For Getting Into Your Day
- Honestly, my kids will just eat sauerkraut by the spoonful and that is one of our daily ‘vitamins’ with breakfast. May take time to get there though.
- My all time favorite way to incorporate sauerkraut or kimchi is with eggs. Scrambled or hard boiled are our go tos, but really any type of egg.
- Mix sauerkraut in with hummus
- Mix sauerkraut in with guacamole
- Add fermented veggies on top of salads
- Add sauerkraut onto sandwiches or in wraps
- Snack on fermented pickles or add onto sandwiches or in tuna salad
- Snack on fermented beef and turkey sticks (remember to use code EMBRACEWELLNESS10 for 10% off)
- Swap your favorite drink for kombucha, water kefir, beet kvass
- Start your day with a Farmhouse Culture gut shot
- Add yogurt or kefir to your favorite smoothie.
If you are interested in learning more about gut health and how to regain control of your health and optimize your body, make sure to check out my Gut Health Reboot Program.
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