A shopping guide to fermented foods
By Gabrielle Newman, Nutritionist, The Fast 800
Fermentation is an ancient technique for preserving foods. The process encourages yeast or bacteria to break down carbohydrates (sugars) into alcohol or acid.
In addition to preserving foods, fermentation also achieves another wonderful benefit: probiotics, which help to feed and balance our gut microbiome.
Our microbiome (or gut flora) already consists of trillions of bacteria that we’ve been symbiotically living with since birth and which affect many facets of human health, most notably digestion and immunity. We can manipulate our gut flora by eating more (or less) fibre, consuming probiotics, taking certain medications and through our lifestyle choices. It’s important to try to foster a healthy microbiome as good health (including immunity) starts in the gut.
High fibre, Mediterranean-style food with additional fermented foods helps to balance and maintain a healthy microbiome.
While some fermented foods, like sauerkraut or kombucha, are simple enough to make at home they can take 2 or more weeks to ferment properly and produce helpful probiotics. They can also require very specific conditions to thrive. So sometimes it’s easier to buy your fermented products from your local supermarket or health food store. With so many brands and versions appearing on our shelves it’s becoming more difficult to tell the real from the phoney ferments.
Here are some tips for buying common fermented products:
Keep in mind, when adding extra fermented foods to your diet you may initially experience some gastrointestinal upset (like bloating or gas). The fermented products produce gas in your digestive tract as they’re being digested and the assimilation of new microbes may also increase these effects – it is totally normal and will subside with regular consumption!
Start small, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in water before meals, ¼ cup kombucha, 1 tablespoon of sauerkraut with a meal – this will help your gut to recognise these foods in the future as you build up your tolerance and microbiome balance. By improving your gut health you’re improving your immune system and overall wellbeing.
The Fast 800 is an innovative approach to healthy living and weight loss based on the latest scientific research. Developed in conjunction with Dr Michael Mosley, the online programme is for those that need more support and guidance for achieving long lasting health. If you join the online programme, you will receive Mediterranean-style menus with weekly HIIT and resistance training plans that are tailored to your level of fitness.