CULTURAL NO BARRIERS VALUES Behold: Runners the awesome with autism power of fermented food
Fermented foods may be top of the nutrition-concious hipster's shopping list these days, but there are tastier ways to keep your gut happy than necking a bottle of kombucha. Use this guide to make the probiotic palatable - pickled, cured and cultivated to your stomach's content
You could be forgiven for believing fermented foods are just the latest superfood fad. But the global probiotics industry is predicted to top £50bn a year by 2023 and the process of lacto-fermentation is an ancient one. Central African farming societies subsisted on porridge made from soured oats; in Asia, the art of pickling vegetables varies by village; the Inuits ferment fish, seal and whale; and in Europe we have long dined on sauerkraut and pickled roots. In fact, fermentation has been trendy since around 6000BC. Its name deriving from lactobacillus (a ‘friendly’ bacteria that converts sugars to lactic acid, to preserve the fruit or vegetable by killing off all sinister bacteria), lacto-fermentation enhances not only the shelf life of the food, but also maintains or even multiplies the nutrients pickled within. So you get an increased payload of vitamins, minerals and probiotics – live cultures that promote the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut biome ( your bacteria community) and that have been linked to everything from boosting mood, immunity and energy, to helping to reduce obesity, heart attacks and cancers. Downing little yoghurt pots rather misses the point. Fermenting and pickling your own foods, while more involved than sticking a few Yakults on your Ocado order packs more health benefits, flavour and nutritional potency into each bite. What follows are five meals that serve up fermented foods as their primary ingredients. This is nutrition for runners with truly cultured tastes.