Gas, bloating, food allergies…. Why are so many of us dealing with digestive issues today? Why are the rates of seasonal and food allergies increasing in children? Could it be the amount of processed food in our diet? GMO foods? Antibiotics? I think there are many causes and we can’t point our finger at only one… but there is one that I feel is being forgotten and neglected, and it’s an issue I see everyday with my clients.
What is that? Well, it’s the role of our gut bacteria in our overall health. We are 90% bacteria and the good bacteria in our gut helps to digest food (like lactose in milk), create vitamins (like vitamin K2), helps to fuel our metabolism, and it helps to educate our immune system and reduce inflammation.
The problem is, for most of us we don’t have enough good bacteria in our gut and this imbalance can be an underlying problem in chronic inflammation and chronic digestive issues. Research has found that just one round of antibiotics can radically change the balance of bacteria in our gut. Just one!
Many of us take probiotic supplements on a regular basis, and this a key step in strengthening your gut bacteria. I like multi-strain, human-strain probiotics that contain a balance of acidophilus and bifido bacteria. But adding more beneficial bacteria to our body is only one step; we also need to look at what we’re feeding this bacteria.
Good Food for Good Bacteria
While unhelpful, “bad” bacteria thrive on processed sugar and starches, our good bacteria has a particular taste for fermented foods. Traditionally, fermented foods were a staple in our diet. Every traditional diet has a fermented food or two that is prized in their culture, and it makes up about 30% of their overall diet. Yet, in North America, we rarely consume fermented foods. We even cheat and use vinegar to make saurkraut and pickles to speed up the process. I believe our digestive power is weakening partially through this missing staple in a healthy diet.
What are fermented foods?
You’ll find delicious fermented foods everywhere in the world; let’s look at a few that are available at Nature’s Fare Markets today:
- Sauerkraut: A delicious fermented cabbage, with a lovely sour flavour. Look for unpasteurized sauerkraut that doesn’t contain any vinegar.
- Kombucha: An easy drinking, fruity fermented tea. It’s a wonderful digestive tonic and my favourite drink while travelling.
- Yogurt: This is a very recognizable fermented food, but many versions of yogurt on the market today aren’t quite what our gut bacteria would like. Look for unsweetened yogurt with “unhomogenized whole milk” and “active bacterial cultures” in the ingredients.
- Sourdough Bread: Wheat needs to be fermented to be properly digested, and many with mild wheat sensitivities are able to digest and enjoy sourdough bread. Look for “sourdough culture” and NO yeast in the ingredients.
Try adding one serving of fermented food to your diet every day to strengthen and heal your digestive system. Enjoy!