What is fermented food? Why do I have to eat my vegetables? Should I be taking a probiotic? Is sauerkraut really just off cabbage? Read on to find the answers to your Gut Health questions that are no doubt keeping you up at night.
Gut Health & Prebiotics
Prebiotics are your gut bacteria’s food. Eat a diet rich in these things, and we’ll keep the good bacteria happy, healthy and well populated. Things like oats, wheat, bananas, barley, onions, asparagus and other green vegetables are particularly good, but eating pretty much any fruit, vegetable or whole grain will work.
This is an important step to get right before worrying about any fancy schmancy fermented foods. If fermented foods are the puppy, then prebiotics are the puppy’s food. You wouldn’t buy a puppy and then not feed it, right?
Your goal each week should be to shoot for 30 different varieties of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs and spices. If we’re getting close to that target each week, good gut bacteria will be promoted and well fed, and the rest will take care of itself!
Gut Health & Fermented Foods
The process of fermentation goes back hundreds and thousands of years as a way of preserving food long before we could just throw it in the fridge.
The goal of fermentation is to use a process that promotes the action and growth of good bacteria, to break down the food and turn it into something new. If done correctly, the good bacteria triumphs over the bad bacteria, bacteria that would otherwise cause the food to just go off.
There’s currently not a heap of hard evidence supporting the benefits of fermented foods, however a long history of its use in alternative medicine plus some emerging evidence is looking positive! Try and include some yoghurt with your breakfast, or have some kimchi or sauerkraut as a side dish with your next dinner.
Gut Health & Rotting cabbage? I’ll just take a probiotic thanks.
Like with most things in nutrition, the supplement industry has tried to take something good they found in food and put it in a pill. Also, like most things in the supplement industry, they haven’t quite got it right yet. One important thing to realise is the enormous amount of variation that can be found in the world of gut bacteria. Your gut bacteria can include up to 2000 different types of bacteria, making it very difficult to just recommend a broad spectrum probiotic to anyone. A probiotic that may potentially benefit your friend might actually make things worse for you. Stick to the prebiotics and fermented food for now, at least until science catches up.
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