I love sauerkraut and frequently crave that sour flavor and the pleasant tanginess it brings. I eat it plain, right out of the jar and on hot dogs and sausages. (Don’t tell folks I eat hot dogs, okay?) I even eat it mixed in a salad.
Because I enjoy sauerkraut so much, and because the health benefits of fermented foods are so phenomenal, I make my own sauerkraut every month. Let me share with you why.
Traditionally fermented foods are high in the friendly, active bacteria cultures that our digestive system needs to thrive. When we introduce these friendly bacteria into our diet on a regular basis, then our gut is healthier. And a healthy gut results in other health benefits.
3 HEALTH BENEFITS OF FERMENTED FOODS
FERMENTED FOODS BUILD A STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM
According to a study in the American Journal of Physiology, our “gut immune system has 70-80% of the body’s immune cells.” That explains why a healthy gastrointestinal system is vital to a healthy immune system overall. Since traditionally fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt feed that gastrointestinal system with what it needs, unlike processed foods devoid of nourishment, folks that eat fermented foods regularly fight off illnesses like the common cold, influenza, and stomach viruses.
FERMENTED FOODS PROMOTE REGULAR BOWEL HABITS
Dr. Deborah Gordon of Oregon says that “improving the population of friendly intestinal flora is enough to cure stubborn cases of constipation.” What is the easiest way to improve your intestinal flora? Eat naturally lacto-fermented foods, of course.
Why does it matter? Constipation, or irregular bowel habits, can lead to a host of ailments including fatigue, mood swings, hemorrhoids, a suppressed immune system, acne, and sleep disorders. Working fermented foods into your diet on a regular basis will ensure that your elimination stays regular and you will not be subject to other maladies.
EATING FERMENTED FOODS GIVES YOU A POSITIVE OUTLOOK
You can read the study here if you are into scientific and medical jargon. The bottom line is a healthy gut fights depression. Here’s what the conductors of this study did.
They constructed a maze that measured a mouse’s ability to make wise choices based on its innate sense of protecting itself. In the maze, they set two types of mice. The first set of mice was devoid of the natural micro-floras needed for a healthy gut. The other set of mice had a normal healthy gut.
The results showed that the unhealthy mice took greater risks in the maze by spending more time out in the open spaces, exhibited more anxiety, and had lower serotonin levels. While serotonin is known as the “happy” neurotransmitter, experts are unsure of its relationship to depression. They do know, however, that folks that suffer from depression have lower levels of serotonin levels.
The results of the study stated, “that the presence or absence of conventional intestinal microbiota influences the development of behavior, and is accompanied by neurochemical changes in the brain.”
There you have it—three amazing health benefits of fermented foods.
Me? I’m sticking with my sauerkraut. What about you. What fermented foods do you eat on a regular basis?
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