Our bodies, particularly our intestines, contain trillions of gut microbiota that serve a number of vital roles. These include helping maintain the integrity of the mucosal barrier, metabolizing nutrients from food and certain medications, protection against intestinal infections, and so much more!
“Bad” bacteria in your intestines can be a factor in disease – the goal is to keep our gut flora healthy by eating a diverse range of foods and getting our fill of fruits and veggies. Excessive amounts of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame should be avoided. They can negatively effect gut flora which can result in problems with blood sugar levels.
Some more foods that are recommended for encouraging a good gut flora balance are whole grains, polyphenol-rich foods such as cocoa and dark chocolate, red wine, grape skins, green tea, almonds, onions, blueberries, and broccoli! Additionally, probiotic supplements can be particularly beneficial for restoring microbiota to a healthy state if they have been compromised.
Another category of foods that play a huge part in supporting gut health is fermented foods. They benefit the microbiota by enhancing function and reducing the abundance of disease-causing bacteria in the intestines. The fermentation process involves the breakdown of sugars by bacteria and yeast, and the result is enhanced preservation of the food, and the boosting of healthy gut bacteria when we consume them. Eating fermented foods can improve digestion and boost the immune system!
Here are a few popular fermented foods to try yourself. Some of them can even be made at home with some patience!
You already knew! Kombucha’s popularity has skyrocketed over the last few years, and for good reason. It is rather pricey, however, so regular drinkers may wish to produce their own kombucha at home with a scoby, tea, and lots of patience.
The fermenting process in sourdough releases more fibre, which can in turn help gut health, and change the microbiota of the gut by encouraging the growth of helpful bacteria! This process also partially breaks down the gluten in the flour, which is why some people who are intolerant to gluten can still safely keep sourdough in their diets.
Gochujang is a red chili paste that is savory, sweet, and spicy. This Korean staple is a fermented condiment made from chili powder, glutinous rice, meju (fermented soybean) powder, yeotgireum (barley malt powder), and salt.
Kefir is a low-fat fermented milk drink made with kefir grains, which aren’t really grains at all — they’re a mix of yeasts and lactobacillus bacteria. Because kefir is fermented with more and different types of bacteria, in addition to yeast, it offers about three times more probiotics — the microorganisms that promote digestive health — than yogurt. It’s also packed with calcium, protein, and potassium. Other yoghurt-y foods from around the world that are high in probiotic cultures include Icelandic “skyr,” Indian “lassi,” and Swedish “Filmjölk.”
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made with salted, fermented vegetables. It typically contains cabbage and seasonings like sugar, salt, onions, garlic, ginger, and chilli peppers. ermentation of Kimchi is carried out by various microorganisms present in the raw materials.
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and kōji (the fungus Aspergillus oryzae) and sometimes rice, barley, seaweed, or other ingredients. The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup. Miso is a complete source of protein and rich in a variety of nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. However, it is very high in salt!
Sources: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/improve-gut-bacteria https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433529/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miso https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/why-miso-is-healthy#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3 https://www.thedailymeal.com/yogurt-s-got-competition-probiotic-packed-kefir-skyr