Benefits of Fermented Foods
There are four important health benefits of traditional fermented foods that
clearly explain why they are so crucial to maintaining a healthy gut:
Benefit #1: Traditional fermented foods help balance the production of stomach
acid. Fermented foods have the unique ability to ease digestive discomfort related
to having either too much or too little stomach acid. When the production of hydrochloric
acid by the stomach is low, fermented foods help increase the acidity
of gastric juices. On the other hand, when the stomach produces too much acid,
fermented foods help protect the stomach and intestinal lining.
As we age, our production of the digestive enzymes and juices required
for proper digestion begin to decrease. Eating traditional fermented foods like
sauerkraut, buttermilk, and pickled vegetables can help make up for this loss. The
key is to eat a small portion once or twice daily with meals.
Benefit #2: Traditional fermented foods help the body produce acetylcholine. Acetylcholine
is a neurotransmitter that facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses.
Within the context of digestion, it helps increase the movement of the bowel, and
can help reduce constipation. It also helps improve the release of digestive juices
and enzymes from the stomach, the pancreas, and the gallbladder. So by helping
your body produce acetylcholine, fermented foods act as potent digestive aids.
Raw, Organic, Pro biotic Rich Ferments
Benefit #3: Traditional fermented foods are beneficial for people with diabetes.
In addition to improving pancreatic function, which is of great benefit to diabetics,
the carbohydrates in lactic acid–fermented foods have been broken down
or “pre-digested.” As a result, they do not place an extra burden on the pancreas,
unlike ordinary carbohydrates.
Benefit #4: Traditional fermented foods produce numerous unknown compounds
that destroy and inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Many pathogenic
forms of bacteria are sensitive to acidic environments. This is true of both
cholera and typhoid. In the early 1950s, during an epidemic of typhoid fever in
Europe, reports emerged showing that fresh sauerkraut was an effective agent for
killing the bacteria. More recently, German scientists were working with a strain
of lactic acid bacteria found in sourdough bread, and discovered that it seemed
to be more effective than other strains at killing microbes. In early lab results, it
quickly eliminated the super-bugs currently resistant to most antibiotics.
While we are just beginning to understand the gut-brain connection, we
know that whatever is occurring in the gut has direct impact on the brain. From
Harvard Medical School, “The brain has a direct effect on the stomach. For example,
the very thought of eating can release the stomach’s juices before food gets
there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to
the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s
stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress,
or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are
intimately connected--so intimately that they should be viewed as one system.”
A recent study at UCLA demonstrated that consuming fermented foods
could positively affect brain function, particularly feelings of anxiety. A four week
intake of fermented foods by healthy women affected activity of brain regions
that control central processing of emotion and sensation.
If you have digestive problems, it will be almost impossible to permanently eliminate them unless you improve the balance between the beneficial and disease-causing bacteria that exist naturally in your gut. One of the most effective ways to do this is by eating traditional fermented foods rich in lactic acid-producing bacteria. Lactic acid-producing bacteria are common in probiotic supplements--which is why traditional fermented foods are also known as probiotic food