Natural fermentation has been around for about 80 million years when wild yeasts began to ferment fallen fruit. Monkeys and butterflies and many more animals discovered uncontrolled fermented fruits and vegetables by wild yeasts wild or other microbes before humans did. However, early humans began to control fermentation about 7,000 years ago. Almost every culture and geography has its own history with fermentation of fruits, vegetables and grains.
- Healthy eating means eating a variety of real foods that give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health, feel good, and have energy. This includes a wide variety of kinds and colors of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices that provide your body with beneficial compounds that work together synergistically to contribute to wellness and disease prevention.
- Many foods contain nutrients that help make for a healthy gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the microbial community in the intestinal tract made of bacteria and microorganisms known as microbes that influence metabolism and immunity. These microbes help maintain a balance among body systems through the immune system to control inflammation that causes disease. In the colon these microbes break down dietary fiber and resistant starch through fermentation producing food for intestinal cells and the gut microbiome. Increasing good bacteria leaves less room for the bad!
- Probiotic fermented foods increase the volume and variety of live good bacteria that are already in our gut microbiome. Look for live or active cultures on the label.
Probiotic Fermented Foods:
Yogurt – with live cultures listed
Cultured buttermilk – with live cultures listed or make it at home
Many cheeses – aged cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, feta, provolone, Gruyère
Kimchi, sauerkraut, dill pickles, olives
Other pickled vegetables – fermented in brine with no vinegar or sugar and usually refrigerated
Non-alcoholic or strong beer and wine — too much alcohol will kill off good bacteria
Dark chocolate– at least 70% cocoa and powdered cocoa
Apples – especially organic*
*The microbiome and antioxidant profiles of fresh produce may one day become standard nutritional information, displayed alongside macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals to guide consumers.
- Prebiotic dietary fibers are the non-digestible dietary fibers and resistant starches that are fermented in the large intestine to produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA) and short chain carbohydrates that feed good gut bacteria to help them grow. Prebiotics also help the body absorb calcium and other minerals, improving digestion and carbohydrate metabolism including blood sugar control.
- To be classified as a prebiotic, the fibers and starches must pass through the small intestine undigested and stimulate the growth and/or activity of good bacteria in the colon. Short chain carbohydrates may cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome*
Prebiotic Dietary Fiber Foods:
Onions, shallots and leeks
Apple cider vinegar
Whole soybean products
* Fructans, fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and galacto-oligosachairdes (GOS) are referred to as FODMAP or short chain carbohydrates that may not agree with those who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
If you’d like to dig deeper into my journey of discovering God’s plan for health and wellness, check out my book, Made For Paradise: God’s Original Plan for Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, and Rest.