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Love Your Gut: Intestinal Health & Fermented Foods

Liz Naum takes a look at fermented foods and their effect on gut health.

Part of the deal when following a Paleo approach is eating foods that aid digestion and heal the body from the inside out. Consequently, much of this healing work begins in the gut. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, "the gut serves as your second brain" and is home to 100 trillion micro-organisms and bacteria, both good and bad, that can form the foundation for optimal health. It can also be the root cause of a number of health problems including autoimmune disorders, depression, chronic fatigue, obesity and allergies.

Our gut flora accounts for 75% of our immune system and what we feed it determines the strength of its integrity. Maintaining a good balance of healthy bacteria supplies your gut with the proper nutrients to digest foods, regulate metabolism, fight infection and maintain optimal emotional and physical well-being. Health professionals talk about the gut barrier and "healing and sealing" the gut to prevent intestinal permeability or, leaky gut syndrome.

One way to restore gut integrity is to add good bacteria to your intestinal flora. Fermented foods, which contain healthy bacteria and probiotic qualities offer an easy way to boost intestinal health. Fermented foods are a traditional food, eaten across multiple cultures and generations. The Europeans have sauerkraut, the Koreans have kimchi and Americans have an abundance of pickled vegetables and homemade relishes.

Sandor Katz, in his book, The Art of Fermentation describes fermentation as "the flavorful space between fresh and rotten." Fermented foods often have a pungent, tangy flavor and are easy to make at home.

Below are a few recipes to to try:

Raw Sauerkraut  from the Balanced Bites blog

Kimchi from the Nourished Kitchen

Fermented Radishes from Mommypotamus

Kombucha! 

And, if you're not into making your own, Bubbies Sauerkraut is a good go-to product with a very short ingredients list.

Here are eight more reasons to eat fermented foods from the Cheeseslave.

 

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