How to Add More Fermented Foods to Your Diet

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Here’s how and why to include more fermented foods in your diet…

You may have heard a lot about the health benefits of probiotics in recent years, but did you know that the cheapest, easiest, and most delicious way to get more probiotics in your diet is not by popping a supplement, but by eating more fermented foods?

While humans consumed fermented foods for thousands of years before the advent of refrigeration, fermented foods have all but disappeared from the modern American diet.

Some health experts believe that this may be one of the reasons for the epidemic of chronic modern diseases. Everything from digestive issues to immune system health, to weight gain, diabetes, and even mental issues such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression – is influenced by the health of your gut bacteria. By cutting naturally probiotic-rich fermented foods out of our diets, we may in fact be making ourselves sick!

Fortunately, many fermented foods are extremely easy and safe to make at home – and you’ll save a pretty penny over expensive probiotic supplements!

So why fermented foods?

For one thing, you’ll be consuming more raw veggies – which are undeniably good for you. However, there is some evidence to suggest that fermented veggies are even better for you than just the plain, raw kind. Not only do properly fermented raw veggies contain loads of healthy probiotic bacteria, but they also may be easier to digest than the un-fermented versions, putting less stress on your digestive system, and helping your body absorb more nutrients than it would otherwise get from the same foods in raw, non-fermented form.

You may also be surprised to discover how truly delicious fermented foods are! (I’ll admit I’m kind of addicted to kimchi…)  🙂

Here is a bit more info on fermenting your own foods, as well as several tasty ones to try making at home:

Fermentation 101: When a food is fermented, it’s placed in a contained environment and exposed to healthy lactic-acid producing bacteria. The same bacteria make milk sour. By ingesting these good bacteria, you’re helping create a more acidic environment in your stomach — which aids in digestion and the production of more good enzymes.

The result is a healthier digestive tract…

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Here are a few ideas from Healthline.com to inspire you:

  • Sauerkraut is easily made with just sliced cabbage, salt, and caraway seeds. Grab a mason jar and make your own sauerkraut tonight. If you’re looking to spice things up, many gourmet dishes feature kraut in them as well!
  • Kimchi is a variety of kraut that’s deliciously spicy. Relying on lacto-fermentation and a whole lot of chili, kimchi is the perfect way to dress up traditional kraut.
  • Pickled vegetables of any kind can be made with some whey protein, sea salt, dill, and garlic for taste. Ordinarily vinegar would be used to can vegetables, but in order to get the full probiotic potential of your fermented vegetables, rely on the bacteria on the surface of their skin to do the work for you.
  • Kombucha is a traditional fermented drink that’s easy to make at home, and even possible to carbonate! If you would prefer drinking your probiotics, fermenting milk and juices may be more up your alley. There’s a whole world of fermented drinks available to you — go crazy.
  • Fermented cranberry sauce may sound a little unconventional, but it’s an easy and delicious way to incorporate some probiotics into dinner or any holiday meal.

Learning the basics of fermentation is pretty easy, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to create your own versions of your favorites! Here are a couple of my favorite recipes to get you started:

Natural Sauerkraut & Kimchi

Pickled Root Vegetables

Naturally Fermented Ginger Ale

Enjoy!

 

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