Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fermented Foods: Good For Your Soul + Your Gut!

I'm sure you've always heard how probiotics (and prebiotics) are good for your digestive tract, and help the bacteria in your tummy pass the food along. Foods like yogurt and kefir have had the most publicity containing these benefits, as advertised through various popularized products and television ads. However, I'm here to remind you that there are other fermented foods that provide these benefits! That means pickles, vegetables, miso--even things like soy sauce, fish sauce, and vinegar. 

Thanks to Dr. Mercola and his recent article about Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's GAPS Diet, ferments foods are a highlight in the diet's guidelines for a happier gut! GAPS is short for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, referring to people suffering from not only an irritated gut, both those who suffer from all kinds of autoimmune disorders ranging from arthritis to Crohn's Disease to allergies to even fatigue. And according to Dr. McBride, these examples of disease have solutions that can be traced back to digestion. 

"In terms of Gut and Psychology Syndrome, we are talking about the functioning of the brain of the person," Dr. McBride explains. "Any dysfunction of the brain is usually connected to what's going on in the digestive system. In Gut and Physiology Syndrome, we're talking about the functioning of the rest of the body. Hippocrates… made a statement that all diseases begin in the gut. The more we learn now with all our modern scientific tools, the more we realize just how correct he was."
So basically all of our health relies on what we put in our mouth? Correct. More specifically, if you have any of the mentioned diseases and conditions mentioned in the article (below), the GAPS diet is especially helpful for you!

If you're a person suffering from an inefficient gut, odds are that you're digestion is suffering from poor nutrition, leading to the inability to form the good bacteria--as well as an becoming a host for an abundance of polluting bacteria to take over. And apparently this problem inhabits many people without it being immediately recognized. After all, it's hard to decipher that a problem with your bones or organs is originating from what's going on in your stomach and intestines. Even if you're not suffering from any major health disruptions, Dr. McBride believes in the "heal and seal" method of living " drive out pathogens and replace them with beneficial flora."

There are certain factors in order to follow the GAPS diet, which include removing insoluble fiber from your diet (as odd as that sounds)--as it feeds the bad microbes in your body--and making sure the foods you ingest are well-cooked as to avoid anything raw (in order to properly break down in your body).  Then the fermented foods are mentioned!!

I thought it was extremely interesting how she acknowledged Raw Food Diets and the problems that occur when you're only ingesting plants in their purest forms. When we eat raw, we're not absorbing as much nutrition and nourishment because we're cleansing. Admit it, when you eat raw, its because you're on a cleanse, whether it's for a week or as a lifestyle change. You're cleansing you're body with plant purity! There's nothing wrong with that, but when you're cooking your veggies, you're breaking down those cell walls so you can become nourished with what the plant has to offer. Otherwise its purely insoluble fiber that's going to pass right through us anyways. And that's where fermented foods come into play. 

" we ferment the vegetables, we break down their cellulose structure. They become less of a cleansing detoxifying food and more of a feeding and nourishing food." 
 "The natural cultures all over the world through the millennia have understood this," she says. "That is why they developed methods to make plant foods more of a "feeding/nourishing" food, and digestible for the human digestive system. The methods that they have developed to make plants more digestible are cooking and fermentation. That is why grains were always fermented or cooked. Fruits and vegetables were fermented and cooked.When we ferment and cook plant foods, we break down their structure. They become less of a detoxifier… [and] move into the group of feeding/nourishing foods. "
Not to mention, fermented foods have an amazing number of other benefits (especially if you're vegan), which include B vitamins, lactic acid, enzymes, and other the other kinds of bacteria present in the atmosphere. 

Dr. Mercola goes on to say...

"One thing that many do not realize is that fermented foods are some of the best chelators available. The beneficial bacteria in these foods are very potent detoxifiers, capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals. According to Dr. McBride, the GAPS Nutritional Protocol restores your own detoxification system in about 90 percent of people, and the fermented/cultured foods are instrumental in this self-healing process.
And you don't need to consume huge amounts either. Caroline recommends eating about a quarter to a half a cup of fermented vegetables, or cultured food such as raw yoghurt, per day. Kombucha, a fermented drink, is another great addition to your diet. The key is variety. The greater the variety of fermented and cultured foods you include in your diet, the better, as each food will inoculate your gut with a variety of different microorganisms."

Yay fermented foods!