Here’s something that might shock you: the stomach is like a second brain. In fact, its function is so important to the human body that it affects just about everything when it is out of shape. The gut is made up of trillions of good and bad bacteria, and when it gets out of balance, problems begin to occur everywhere.
Ever noticed blemishes or pimples on your cheeks that just aren’t going away no matter which products you use? Ever wonder why your kidneys hurt constantly, but nothing is detected? Or perhaps you have an irritable bowel or embarrassing flatulence, even though you aren’t necessarily eating foods that would cause this. With the amounts of processed foods, medications, and hidden yeasts and chemicals we consume, our very important gut flora is often thrown out of whack. What is nutritionally beneficial to rectify this is the good bacteria that thrives in fermented foods. Below are 8 of the best that, when introduced slowly, will have your digestive tract better balanced and on the road to recovery.
Made from soybeans, tempeh is a delicious (not to mention vegan/vegetarian) fermented food that can be cooked and prepared with any lunch or dinner in a stir-fry, burger, or even just with some veggies. Because it is made from soy beans, it is closely linked to tofu, though it is a less-processed version which is fermented and full of amino acids that are good for the gut.
Much like sauerkraut in their simple recipe of salt (and water), “real” pickles are made from cucumbers and spices, but can additionally include herbs for more flavor. Alternatively, any fermented vegetables are going to be good for your gut, so you can really get creative with this one and choose vegetables to your tastes.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink which comes in the form of both milk or yoghurt, depending on what you prefer. It is, at first, an odd consistency – it almost tastes fizzy, as if it might have turned bad! This is just the live cultures buzzing. Kefir is an amazing source of probiotics and calcium.
4. Natural yoghurt
Many yoghurts that we buy in the supermarket are packed with sugar, which is detrimental to the health of your stomach. If you can get your hands on a natural yoghurt, they are packed with probiotics and live cultures that rectify and aid imbalances — 100% Greek yoghurt is a good option.
You might have first heard of miso as the Japanese soup sold in small doses at your favorite restaurant. It is, in fact, a paste that is made from barley, soy beans, or rice, and is full of live cultures that are good for the stomach. While stirring it into soups is the most common form of consumption, braver souls enjoy its flavor so much that they even spread it onto toast like peanut butter!
Kombucha is a very ancient Chinese tea that was once known as the “tea of immortality.” Made from yeast bacteria, it is added to sweetened teas and then changed by the sugars into a bowl of incredible nutrients, including vitamin C, B vitamins, amino acids, organic acids, enzymes, and antibiotic tendencies. It is a mixing pot of good gut health!
Sauerkraut is the traditional German dish of fermented cabbage. It might be an acquired taste, but as it is made from only cabbage and salt, it is a very healthy gut choice which is full of fiber and probiotics.
Kimchi is the Korean version of Sauerkraut. It is made with seasonings and thus has more flavor than the traditional sauerkraut, yet it is similarly packed with fiber and goodness. It is also being more widely used these days, and has been known to even taste good as a pizza topping!