Naturally fermented foods help strengthen your gut microbiome --the 100 trillion or so bacteria and microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. Researchers are beginning to link these tiny creatures to all sorts of health conditions from obesity to neurodegenerative diseases.
Lacto-fermentation is the oldest form of food preservation in the world. It involves only salt, water and vegetables. The salt water brine creates an anaerobic environment (free of oxygen) where only lactobacillus bacteria can survive. The lactobacillus bacteria act as a preservative, keeping harmful bacteria from living in the ferment. The lactobacillus bacteria then eat the sugars found on the vegetables and convert it to lactic acid. The lactic acid creates an acidic environment that safely preserves the vegetables.
We like to think of the gut microbiome as our internal ecosystem. It’s its own organism and is interconnected to all other organisms in our body. The microbiomes' role is to fight diseases and keep us healthy. Everything we are and everything we do gets filtered by our microbiome and this has a huge impact on inflammation and chronic diseases. The diversity of these microbes translates to our overall health. When we use ferments, we’re bringing in some of the nutrition, the soil and even bringing in a greater biodiversity of prebiotics and probiotics from nature. The tiny, fascinating world of organisms that uniquely live in us and on us are bountifully present in fermented foods. They are uniquely adapted to the environment, help digest our food, and allow nutrients to be absorbed more easily. Fermented foods increase immune function. Up to 80% of our immune system is found in the gut and eating fermented foods adds good bacteria to our guts to help maintain the balance we need for a healthy immune system. Digestive, immune, mental health, cardiovascular, skin, and oral health are all linked to intestinal bacteria. The most important way we can change our microbiome is the way we eat. These microbes are key to good health, and we need to feed these little superheroes.