Fermented Foods aka Probiotics

If “fermented foods” is a phrase that’s sounding more familiar to you, we’re not surprised. Author Michael Pollan mentioned them in his latest book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Stanford is busy mapping the human microbiome, and fermented foods were voted one of the top five food trends of 2013.

Composition with jars of pickled vegetables. Marinated food

What Are Fermented Foods?

Fermentation occurs when bacteria and yeast feed on the sugars in food and create lactic acid. This unique relationship produces a rich environment of bacteria and also preserves the food.

Although fermented foods are covered in bacteria, these bacteria, or probiotics, are the beneficial kind. Our bodies are actually 90% bacteria, and we need bacteria of this kind in fermented food to help us stay healthy.

Some Common Fermented Foods

  • Cheese
  • Bread
  • Yogurt
  • Some pickles
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Vinegar
  • Miso
  • Kombucha

Why Are Fermented Foods Important for Me?

Our bodies depend on the symbiotic relationship we have with the bacteria that live on and in us. Our intestines are home to billions of colonies of bacteria known as the gut microflora. These bacteria can change depending on the foods we eat and the medications we take.

Probiotics are one of the best ways to restore and maintain healthy gut microflora. There’s also research connecting our gut microflora to immune system health, brain function and even weight.

“Some of my best friends are germs,” says Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore’s Dilemma.

How to Buy Fermented Foods Rich in Probiotics

When purchasing fermented foods like those listed above make sure you are getting ones that still have healthy live colonies of probiotics.  If your fermented foods have been pasteurized or are preserved by vinegar not fermentation they will not provide the same benefits.

Kimchi - cabbage chili radish

Brands that contain probiotics:

  • Bubbies: Kosher Dill Pickles, Kosher Dill Relish, Old Fashioned Sauerkraut, Pickled Green Tomatoes
  • Braggs: Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Solana Gold: Apple Cider Vinegar
  • GT Dave’s: Kombucha (Most Kombucha isn’t pasteurized so it should be pretty easy to find less common brands that still have live bacteria goodness.)
  • Lightlife: Tempeh

Want to make your own fermented foods? You can find recipes at Nourished KitchenEllen’s Kimchi or Nourishing Days.

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