After making some sauerkraut at 2 a.m. today I got inspired to write this blog and share with you guys the magic that is fermented foods!
We’ve all probably heard how certain foods are “brain-food”. I remember when I was younger my mother always told me fish was brain-food. After indulging myself in the study of nutrition I have come to find out she was on to something! Along the way I picked up several other super-foods that have dramatically changed my health for the better, especially my mental health! Though I believed into my mother’s tales most of the time, I know now the brain enhancing affects of my processed fish sticks were placebo at best. The foods I am going to talk about today however; these foods have some serious power in them. What I’m talking about are real fermented foods.
Some commonly known fermented food
- RAW SAUERKRAUT
- Lacto-fermented Wine
I’m assuming most of you have heard of these foods before but never really understood the nutritional benefits behind them. Depending on your level of nutritional expertise you may already be very well-informed with what I’m going to talk about. For those who aren’t, let me explain! First of all, a fermented food, in general terms, is a food with healthy bacteria naturally present that when left out in room temperatures will multiply and create a very strong probiotic rich food. Probiotic means “for life”. They are the healthy bacteria that colonize our intestinal tract, skin, mouth, etc. These bacteria are the base of our immune system, they digest our food, help us assimilate our nutrients, keep us from getting sick, and even control allergies.
You’re telling me yogurt is “brain-food”?
First of all, commercial yogurt is not going to give you the same nutritional benefits and brain boosting power as a traditional yogurt. In short, commercial yogurt is mostly made with pasteurized, poor quality milk, the pasteurization destroys the natural occurring beneficial bacteria that will make the yogurt. What commercial companies then do is add a “culture” from who knows where to the pasteurized milk then lets it ferment for a much shorter period than traditional yogurt. Traditional yogurt is fermented anywhere from 24-48 hour where commercial yogurt is sometimes fermented for only a few hours. Think of this like my fish stick story. Yes, omega-3 rich fatty fish such as salmon, halibut, mackerel, etc are incredible brain food but a breaded fish stick is a far cry away from a brain food. This is like commercial yogurt and traditionally made yogurt.
Fermented foods and their brain-boosting power
How fermented foods affect your brain have to do with their incredible impact on your gut health. As I aforementioned, the bacteria in fermented foods colonize your GUT. Sparing you from turning this into a scientific study I will keep it simple. When you have healthy gut bacteria your brain works at its peak performance. There is an incredible book called Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia that will explain everything in much more detail if you’re interested in the scientific background of all this. In short, your intestinal tract manufactures about 80% of your neurotransmitters. This is also referred to as the enteric nervous system. These neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that control your mood. You would be fascinated how mental ailments such as depression, anxiety, bi-polar-ism, memory loss, foggy brain and many more have a direct correlation with your gut health. These symptoms are a direct result your intestinal tract becomes weakened and overpopulated with bad bacteria. So consuming fermented foods; foods RICH in healthy bacteria, is the opposite! Consuming fermented foods like yogurt, and raw sauerkraut is your hormones balance out, you think clearly, your energy shoots up, you are calmer and happier! Again, I would recommend reading The GAPS Diet or The Body Ecology Diet books for further detail on this information!
Some additional fermented foods you might not be aware of
- Kefir – Superior to yogurt; contains health bacteria and yeast. Cleanses kidneys/liver, gives you youthful skin and regrows hair! You can it very easily at home with coconut water or milk! Coconut Kefir is without doubt my favorite of all fermented foods though. It is so delicious! I have witness hair growth, improved kidney function, skin marks/blemishes complete vanish and pores shrink to nothing. If you’re after vanity Coconut Kefir Water is where it’s at! I will be making a video/blog soon on how to make this at home!!!
- Cultured Beverages– These are water based beverages that taste similar to soda but are beaming with healthy bacteria. You can find these in health food stores and online. My favorite is Body Ecology’s Innergy-Biotic and I am also a fan of Kavita (found in Whole Foods).
- Cultured Vegetables- Sauerkraut is a cultured vegetable but it doesn’t have to stop at cabbage. You can place almost any vegetable imaginable into a mason jar with a starter culture and water and get the most healing food you’ll ever taste!
- Fermented Spirulina– If you have heard of spirulina, you probably didn’t know that like raw green’s it is hard on the digestive system and a lot of the nutrition is locked away in a tough cell wall. Fermented spirulina however is some of the most protein rich food on the planet. Talk about energy! This stuff is incredible. You see drastic differences in the glow of your skin and hair within days of taking it.
- Natto- This is a fermented Soy Bean paste. It’s a little harder to find but if you do it’s worth it. Natto is the best source of vitamin K2 on the planet. A insanely critical vitamin that’s missing from our diet today.