Did you know the human body contains 10x more microorganisms than human cells? A sizeable portion of these microorganisms are bacteria. You’ve likely heard the term good bacteria or intestinal flora. There are many different strains of these good bacteria in and on your body, each contributing in a different way to the healthy function of your body. It’s these bacteria that help you digest and absorb your food, and help your body protect itself against potentially harmful bacteria.
Antibiotics and a diet containing highly processed foods have been shown to reduce the diversity and quantity of healthy bacteria, potentially contributing to poor health. It is important to actively work to maintain healthy gut flora. Probiotics are commonly used to help repopulate intestinal flora, especially following antibiotic use. However, you may also consider consuming fermented foods, which are teaming with active beneficial bacteria.
It has been proposed that healthy bacteria in the digestive system may not only promote digestive health, but may also have positive effects on cardiovascular health, weight, oral health, mood and more. Although many associate these benefits with dairy products such as yogurt, kefir, and cheese, you might also be able to achieve benefits with non-dairy choices. From the more traditional German sauerkraut, Vietnamese kimchi, and sourdough breads, to more unusual mixtures such as fermented beetroot with garlic and cheeses made from nuts, there are unlimited ways to add these simple, healthy foods to your diet.
Fermenting your own foods is easy to do and takes little preparation time. I encourage you to do an internet search for fermented food recipes and experiment. Find ways to incorporate them into your daily meals and enjoy their wonderful benefits!
By Gina Van Luven
Director of Nutrition Education
This article is for nutrition information purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any health concerns you may have. The information in this article is not intended to promote any specific product, or for the prevention or treatment of any disease.