The Health Benefits of Fermented Vegetables
Fermented foods have been a staple of the human diet since Ancient Egypt; it is thought that the first type of fermented food was a bread type mixture that became a regular fixture of the Egyptian household. Since then, out understanding of the health benefits of fermented foods, and especially vegetables, has come a long way. We now know that fermented foods (or probiotic foods as they are commonly called) help with not only a range of gut issues, but also lead to an overall healthy balance in the way or bodies process minerals.
Our bodies are in a constant “battle state” in terms of the harmful and beneficial bacteria that exists within us; by regularly eating probiotic food, we help tip the balance to the “good bacteria” in our guts and digestive tract.
There are numerous health benefits to eating fermented foods, but in this article we’ll focus on the top four:
- Eating fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and Korean kimchi have been shown to create a healthier balance in the production of stomach acids. As we get older, our bodies find it more difficult to produce the right digestive enzymes that help us break down food; fermented vegetables actually increase the acidity of our gastric juices. By optimizing the digestive process, we are better able to draw nutrients from the food we eat, giving all round health benefits.
- Probiotic foods are healthy in so many different ways. Eating or drinking fermented products introduces beneficial bacteria to your system giving you better digestive balance. Probiotics have been linked to better overall health, a boost in the immune system, and can even slow down or reverse damage done by diseases such as “Super Bugs”. Studies show that even the Super Bugs that are now resistant to antibiotics are quickly cleared by fermented foods. During a typhoid fever epidemic in Europe in the 1950s, sauerkraut was shown to be extremely effective at destroying and removing the deadly bacteria.
- Fermented vegetables help your body achieve weight loss and maintain a balanced overall health. The human microbiome is home to all sorts of microbes and bacteria that essentially use us as a life support system; but it is a cooperative relationship. The microbiome when properly balanced helps us “regulates the immune system, metabolism, sustains the gastrointestinal tract, supports mood and brain function, produces crucial vitamins and nutrients, and helps us maintain a healthy weight.” When the microbiome runs low, we get sick; fermented foods help replenish it and keep a good balance of beneficial bacteria in our bodies.
- Overall well being. The human body exists in a symbiotic relationship with microbes and bacteria; in fact, the amount of bacteria in our bodies outnumbers our own cells by 10 to 1! If the bacteria balance is wrong, it can literally impact every part of our physical AND mental health. From weight and fitness to stable moods and good skin, the bacteria regulate everything; ensuring that they are not fighting a losing battle is pretty much the most important and easiest thing you can do for your body.
Keeping a properly balanced diet will, in the long run, do more for your overall health and fitness than any exercise. A good mix of nutrients, vitamins and minerals is key to being healthy, but getting these into your system effectively is better managed by letting your gut bacteria do the work. If you have a good probiotic balance, you’ll get MORE out of the foods that you eat; your body will break down the food more efficiently and help release all of the essential minerals without the need for supplementary medicine.
Perhaps the most appealing factor in eating fermented vegetables is how tasty and easy to prepare they are. You can buy some real natural sauerkraut or kimchi from a local market, or you can make it yourself at home in just a few minutes (although you do have to leave it alone and let it ferment for a while).
There is little point in looking after the outside of your body if the inside is working against you; make sure that you give yourself the best shot at a healthy body AND healthy mind by including small portions of fermented vegetables as part of your regular diet.