Fermented foods have been eaten by our ancestors for generations, because it was one of the easiest ways to preserve food before refrigeration was available. Rather than just preserving food, however, fermentation also enhances the nutrient content of food. Even more important for those experiencing IBS, it aids in digestion by encouraging a healthy and balanced gut environment.
For these reasons, people everywhere should aim to include fermented foods to their diets, and in particular those like me who suffer from poor digestive health.
Fermented foods are those which contain a live culture, or bacteria, called lactobacillus. Various types of these microorganisms exist naturally on the surface of plants as well as in our mouths and digestive tracts. This bacteria feeds on the carbohydrates and natural sugars found in food, converting them into lactic acid. Breaking them down also makes the nutrients and carbohydrates easier for the body to absorb. Furthermore, lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of toxic bacteria and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria to help digestion and encourage the absorption of nutrients. This growth of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract also boosts the immune system!
Now, those with IBS may be following a low-FODMAP diet
This is a diet plan that identifies several groups of carbohydrates that are difficult for the small intestine to digest. As a result, they arrive in the large intestine fairly intact and ferment there when they interact with bacteria. Such fermentation produces gas and causes the painful bloating and cramping symptoms associated with IBS. Adding foods that are already fermented to your diet may reduce these symptoms because it helps to nourish the good bacteria found in your gut, which will then neutralize the harmful bacteria there and help to break down the carbohydrates before they reach the large intestine and ferment there.
Fermented foods are easy to find in stores and even easier to make yourself as long as you are able to find a live culture. Some common fermented foods are sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), kefir, yogurt, miso and kimchi, but it’s very easy to ferment many different kinds of vegetables such as beets, carrots, beans, turnips, and pickles. Stay tuned for some of my favorite fermented ingredients and how to prepare them into delicious and healthy meals!
Fermentation and Gut Health!
I suffer from IBS, here’s how fermented foods improved my digestion and boosted my immunity.