Is fermented food healthy?
What’s all the fuss with fermented foods at the moment, in particular kombucha? Is it any good for you? Thanks for your time, Sean.
Hi Sean. When it comes to understanding the role of bacteria in our health, consider this – we are actually more bacteria than we are human. A healthy balance of the bacteria in our gut governs the functioning of many systems including the immune system and metabolism. It plays a critical role in our mood and brain function – and it helps us maintain our body size.
The health of the gut is central to every aspect of health. It is through our digestive system that we absorb all of the goodness from our food, a process that is essential for life.
Yet today, many people suffer with an array of gut-based illnesses or dysfunction, which can have a broad impact on many other areas of our health.
Fermented foods are like a big hug for your gut and a wonderfully nourishing addition to your diet, whether you have experienced gut dysfunction or not. Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugars and starches in the food creating certain acids. The fermentation of foods may also preserve the nutrient content of the food and assist in making the food easier to digest. It’s this along with the acids such as acetic acid – thought to help stimulate stomach acid production – created during the fermentation process that explains the link between consumption of fermented foods and improved digestion.
Kombucha is a fizzy fermented tea that has a good mix of different strains of bacteria. The fermentation process produces vinegar and several other acidic compounds, trace levels of alcohol and gases that make it carbonated. A large amount of probiotic bacteria is also produced during fermentation. It certainly works wonders for a number of people’s digestive systems. However, it’s important to read the label when buying commercial brands as some can have a high sugar content.
I knowsugar is bad for us and I try to avoid it whenever possible but I’mhaving trouble removing it from tea and coffee. Any suggestions as to howI can wean of it? Thanks, Michelle.
Hi Michelle. Adding a teaspoon of sugar to your coffee or tea (I’m assuming this is how much you are adding) will actually be a very small proportion of the sugar you consume on a daily basis. So although it’s certainly wise to remove this and to start to retrain your taste buds, you must also look at all the hidden sources of refined sugars in your diet.
We consume these mainly in packaged or processed goods such as sauces, chips, crackers, biscuits, muesli bars, yoghurt and ice-cream, to name a few. Also to appreciate that sugar is hidden by a number of different names such as cane sugar, maltodextrin, dextrose, maltose and fruit juice concentrate (to name only a few).
With many patients when it comes to the sugar they add to their food I have asked them to slowly reduce the sugar they add, for example dropping down to a teaspoon, teaspoon and then removing it altogether.
After a little while of retraining your taste buds you will notice that if you do consume ‘‘sugary’’ foods they taste sickly sweet.