Keep in mind that while the topic of fermented foods is now trending in the mainstream, we’ve been asking you to include fermented foods in your diet for the last two years! But honestly, we can’t blame people. Thanks to continued research on the connection between the human microbiome and health, people are beginning to understanding that inflammation and chronic disease (like allergies and autoimmune disorders) can be eased and very often erased- with diet.
“The term “gut-brain axis” has been coined to describe the incredibly sophisticated system that involves the brain, nervous system, and the gut. Called the enteric nervous system, and nicknamed the “second brain,” strong gut function is the cornerstone of a healthy brain and nervous system. Most of us associate neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that have profound effects on our moods and behavior, with the brain. More than 50% of dopamine and 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut! When your microbiome is in harmony, your moods are balanced, you feel better, and your brain is clearer.”1
Here are six reasons why you should add these nutritional powerhouses into your weekly, if not daily, meal plan:
1. Beautiful, Glowing Skin: Having radiant skin gives you confidence and makes you feel good. But it also tells a story about the state of your health. Indeed, research continues to show that “Skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis have all been connected to dysfunction of the gut microflora.”2
2. Better Digestive Health: “The microbiome is highly vulnerable to the increasing prevalence of pesticides, trans-fats, and antibiotics in the medical and agricultural industries. With compromised digestive function, we can suffer from extensive inflammation and leaky gut which is related to a host of illnesses. We have more bacterial cells in our bodies than we do human cells, with the numbers reaching into the trillions. It’s critical that those bacteria are healthy and diverse in all species. When our gut microflora is fit and flourishing, we experience a balanced elimination function (no constipation or diarrhea) and say goodbye to the discomfort of bloating, gas and indigestion. The healthy bugs assist the body in digesting and absorbing nutrients more efficiently, so vitality and energy can be used for other bodily functions rather than just processing our food.”3
3. Boost Immune Health: Since seventy percent of our immune system is found in our gut, it makes sense to start any health regimen there. In our gut, “microflora” are in close communication with immune system cells deciding “which organisms will pass through the cells of the intestine into your bloodstream”4 and which ones won’t. So, it follows that immune system cells should partner with healthy, beneficial bacteria. Eating a diet rich in fermented vegetables is one way to ensure that your immune cells associate with the “good guys.” After all, disease is found when an “overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria” are absorbed into the body, resulting in “…ailments like arthritis, allergies, eczema, and diseases like multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and fibromyalgia.”5
4. Cost-effectiveness: Never look at the price of a healthy food and think in the short term. Rather, consider that spending a little more goes a long way toward better health. Even adding a small amount of fermented food to each meal will give you the biggest bang for your buck; after all, they can contain 100 times more probiotics than a supplement!6
5. Detoxification: Fermented foods are some of the best chelators available because the beneficial bacteria in these foods are “highly potent detoxifiers, capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals.”7
6. Reduce Sugar Cravings, Balance Your Blood Sugar: If you crave sugar you’ll find that a diet full of the nutrients found in fermented foods will lessen your cravings. And in turn, you’ll find your blood sugar and hormones in balance and even perhaps a little less weight on your body! You see, when your body gets what it needs it doesn’t look to quick sources of energy (like sugar and simple carbs) to satisfy it.
If you’ve never tried fermented vegetables and you are eating them as part of a health plan, make sure to work with a qualified functional medicine practitioner who can walk you through things.