Gut Week: 5 fermented, gut healing foods to eat
It’s time to take fermented foods seriously. This process packs significant health benefits – so much so, that fermented foods are fast becoming the latest buzzy superfoods on the block.
The health benefits lie in the way fermentation allows bacteria, yeasts and moulds to ‘predigest’ the food, breaking down carbohydrates, fats and proteins to create probiotics which introduce friendly bacteria into the digestive system.
Clever huh? It goes beyond tummy issues too; a well-balanced bacterial colony in our gut contributes almost 70 per cent of our immunity. Find out our top five of these valuable live foods and you could have a happier tum today.
Thanks to the lactic and acetic acids that ferment the dough, sourdough helps you towards a happier tummy. It’s more digestible and nutritious than standard white bread, and the lactic acids make the vitamins and minerals in the flour more available to the body by helping to neutralise plant acids in flour that would interfere with their absorption. It has a lower GI (glycemic index) and the acids render the gluten in the flour more digestible. Makes a great pizza base too.
Chances are you’ve had miso soup on a sushi trip. Miso itself is a fermented paste made from soya beans and rice, barley, wheat or rye. It adds a lovely, rich intensity to any dish, from classic miso soup to marinated and grilled fish, chicken or vegetables.
There are a few varieties to choose from such as shinshu, red or brown aka and shiro miso. You can make miso paste yourself, but there are lots of great ones you can buy ready-made. Add it to your cooking and you’ll give your immune system a boost.Read more: What’s the deal? Fermented foods
Instead of tofu, why not try tempeh? Tempeh is made by the controlled fermentation of whole soybeans. It is healthier than tofu, less processed and contains more protein and fibre. You can find it in the chilled cabinets of healthfood shops. Try crumbling some into casseroles or soups, or you can marinate cubes of tempeh with soy sauce, lemon juice, pepper, ground coriander and garlic, before stir-frying with vegetables. Delicious and nutritious.
4. Live yoghurt
This stuff is high in calcium, supplies vitamin B12 and folic acid and contains ‘friendly’ bacteria, which assist in maintaining a healthy gut. The lactic bacteria not only help support the immune system but also reduce constipation, stomach acidity and lower body fat. If you can, try this one at home. The health benefits of homemade yoghurt are immense; the fresher the yoghurt, the longer the health-giving probiotics survive.
If you don’t want to make your own, make sure that you only buy organic live natural yoghurt, and avoid low-fat versions – they’re often full of hidden sugars.Read more: How to get on with your gut
5. Pickled veg
Fermented veg is highly nutritious as you’re preserving them in their raw state, maintaining vitamin C while breaking down other nutrients into easily digestible forms. Ready-made versions include olives, cucumbers, artichokes and peppers – but make sure the food item hasn’t been pasteurized, and always choose good quality brands or try a local deli. Pickled cabbage is another great bet – go German with sauerkraut or Korean with kimchi. Fall in love with these tummy-loving foods and you won’t look back.