Forget farm-fresh-to-table: Fermentation is the latest trend on the superfoods scene.
Likely, you’ve seen (or drank) kombucha just about everywhere, without giving much thought beyond its taste. Probiotic-powered foods, however, offer a range of health benefits, promoting healing and enhancing immune function. To better understand bacteria-boosted foods, we spoke to a trio of leading health and wellness experts.
“The fermentation of foods generates good bacteria (i.e. probiotics or live microorganisms) that help to support overall health,” says Dr. Nancy Steely, Naturopathic Physician and Arbonne Senior Director of R&D, Nutrition. Fermentation enhances nutrient absorption, betters the health and appearance of skin and improves mood and cognitive function.
EAT FOR BALANCE
“It is important to supplement our diets with a variety of raw, cultured, fermented and probiotic foods that encourage a balanced and healthy gut ecosystem,” says Paula Simpson, Celebrity Nutritionist and Co-Founder of ZSS Skincare. Good bacteria maintains growth and health of cells within the gut. “By eating a variety of fermented foods on a regular basis, you are providing the body with a cross section of strains that probiotics alone cannot match,” she adds. Fermented foods also contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients; these will fuel the body to meet the demands of your preferred workout routine.
According to Dr. Bill Miller, author of Ferment Your Way To Optimal Health, consuming fermented foods notably improves digestive woes. “These contribute to the diversity of the human gut microbiome, the enormous set of microbes in the gut that are essential contributors to our health and well-being,” says Dr. Miller.
Probiotics decrease the symptoms of conditions such as IBS by stimulating the release of absorbable anti-inflammatory molecules into the gut. The gut microbiome is a major modulator of the immune system and systemic inflammation. He says that “fermented foods include potent anti-oxidant activity and seem to provide a generalized boost to the innate-immune system” to control glycemic levels and prevent obesity.
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT
Interestingly, says Dr. Miller, the gut and nervous system are intimately entwined; this connection has been termed the gut-brain axis. Consuming fermented food impacts communication between the gut and brain. Fermented foods may also improve a range of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression.
So, next time you experience sensation in the pit of the stomach, trust that your body is sending you an important message.