What are fermented foods and how can they help promote a healthy gut?
Fermentation is an anaerobic process where bacteria or yeast convert sugars in food to organic acids or alcohol. This helps preserve the food while adding a little zing to the palate.
In recent years, fermented foods are finding their way to grocery store shelves for their potential benefits on gut health.
Many fermented foods are made with the help of bacterial/yeast cultures. However, most of the finished products do not contain live or active cultures, one of the main components found in probiotics.
Fermented foods contain what is knows as “prebiotics.” However, since it is in the presence of “probiotics” we see reduction in gut inflammation, it is unclear the role fermentation has on leaky gut.
And while there are no recommended daily serving sizes, it is not clear how much we need to eat to optimize our GI system.
While we can’t always rely on a boost of “good bacteria” from them, fermented foods offer other benefits. They are rich in nutrients and vitamins while adding a punch to the taste buds.
Here is a look at different fermented options:
Kombucha is a fermented drink using green or black tea. Most of the studies outlining the benefits of Kombucha are limited to animals or test tubes. However, they show promising hope against liver toxicity, cancer cells and lowering blood sugars. Kombucha can be made at home, but care must be taken when attempting to handle live cultures.
Kefir is a type of cultured dairy product made by adding kefir grains made from yeast/bacteria. In one small study, kefir was shown to improve the digestion of lactose in 15 people with lactose intolerance. Another study found that consuming 6.7 ounces of kefir daily for six weeks decreased markers of inflammation. One study looked at the effects of kefir on 40 people with osteoporosis. After six months, the group consuming kefir was found to have improved bone mineral density, compared to a control group.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans that have been pressed into a compact cake and can be used as a meat-substitue. A test-tube study found that certain plant compounds in tempeh could act as antioxidants, helping reduce the buildup of free radicals. A word of caution when using soy: soy contains estrogenic properties and should be used in limited quantities.
Studies have shown fermented milk products like probiotic yogurt could help reduce blood pressure, improve bone health and contributes to helping maintain body fat. Not all yogurt varieties contain probiotics. Look for ones that contain “live cultures” with minimal sugars.
Maintaining a mostly plant based process-free diet is the perfect way to help preserve and maintain gut restoration. Fermented foods only assist in this process. If you have questions about this, or any other issues going on with your gut, contact our offices today to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment.
In the world of camera crazy selfies, the one picture that could be life saving is that selfie of the colon. Colon cancer screening is never something you should put off.
Ahhh yes, mentioning anything about that 5 foot luminous tube that weaves itself around the core of our essence makes us want to run in the opposite direction. Don’t!
The colon is VITAL to maintaining homeostasis and overall balance.
The colon absorbs essential vitamins, salts, nutrients, and water that gives us our good health. However any disruption is this function causes toxins to be absorbed back into the blood stream rather than expelling them. The reversal of this pathway leads to not only GI complaints, but also systemic symptoms. Examples include, fatigue, skin changes, hormonal imbalances, sleep issues, depression, hair loss, weight gain, weight loss, and headaches.
Over one hundred trillion microorganisms (bacteria) reside in the colon. There are more microorganisms in the colon than are contained within the skin, heart, bone, brain, and the rest of the body’s cells combined. A proper balance of healthy bacteria must be maintained inside the colon to avoid being constantly plagued with digestive ailments.
Since we live in a world where processed food is a staple, it is no surprise we are being plagued with continuous health ailments. The impurity of our diet has led to an epidemic of persistent illnesses. Also, the overuse of antibiotics has resulted in a paradigm shift of our normal gut flora. The overwhelming force of trauma of both of these habits has made it difficult for the colon to withstand any level of normalcy.
The sharp rise in obesity, ADHD, adult and children’s cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions, must leave us wondering, why? What are we doing wrong?
Once again, the answers lie in the lumen of our GI tract. This is exactly why you SHOULD NOT avoid your colon cancer screening.
Taking care of our gut health is not optional, it is vital.
How can we do that when we constantly feel like we are swimming against the current?
Here are a few simple ideas:
- Eliminate sugar. “On the high sugar diet mouth-to-anus transit time was significantly prolonged, despite a shortened mouth-to-cecum transit time. The fecal concentration of total bile acids and the fecal concentration of secondary bile acids increased significantly. Diet affected neither the serum bile acid pattern nor the concentration. Breath hydrogen tests showed significantly enhanced H2 production on the high sugar diet. We conclude that the quantity of refined sugar in the diet can significantly influence gut function and the composition of bowel contents”. (Gut. 1991 Apr; 32(4): 367–371.)
- Increase water intake. Water helps break down food and improves waste transit and elimination. It also enhances vitamin and nutrient absorption and helps maintain a balanced pH in the gut.
- Listen to your “Gut”. Whether the symptoms are of GI origin or systemic, it is important to have the gut evaluated in its entirety. A GI work up may include:
a). Evaluation for food allergies,
b.) Hydrogen breath test for bacterial overgrowth,
c.) Celiac disease,
d.) Stool sample for fungal or bacterial infection.
e.) Upper Endoscopy for reflux, hernias, erosions etc.
f.) Colonoscopy for polyps, cancer, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, generalized colitis etc.
This is by no means a complete list. It only outlines different ways of getting into the GI tract. It is imperative not to ignore the body’s communication with us.
- Probiotics. These are the “good” guys that have come to save the day. Packaged and labeled under many different disguises, it is hard to know which one is the right one. Before starting down the road of pill-popping, first find the cause of the symptoms. Once identified, then reach for these microbes.
Many of us ignore the warning signs because we may feel it is “gross” or “embarrassing.” Physicians and specialists are highly skilled and trained in the area of Gastroenterology. There is nothing there we have not seen or experienced before.
Health is #1 priority. By allowing toxins to continue to reside in the seat of our solar plexus, we continue to live in a toxic environment.
Would we let toxic individuals stay in our home? Then why are we doing it to our OWN self?
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.