Eating Your Friendly Bacteria

Our digestive tract is full of 100 trillion microbial cells and 1,000 microbial species that aid in the digestion and assimilation of the foods that we eat. When these microbes are out of whack, we may not be getting all of the nutrition from our food that we can. When we are chronically deprived of nutrition our body can’t do the work it is meant to do, like fighting off viral and bacterial infections, keeping our energy up, and keeping our mind focused and thinking creatively.

Depending on where you are born and the diet of your parents, your gut microbe will be influenced. For instance people born in Japan have specific gut bacteria that aid in the digestion of sea vegetables, making it easier for them to breakdown the fibrous vegetables and extract all of the minerals and vitamins. People from parts of Africa have gut bacteria that aid in the assimilation of animal proteins including blood and bone marrow. Knowing your genetic background can be helpful in determining which foods are best for your digestion.
Beneficial gut microbes include, yeast, bacteria, and their byproducts. Scientists have found that the gut microbes of each individual is as unique as their genetic make-up with identical make-up being extremely rare. The gut microbes of obese people is notably different to that of lean people. People with diabetes tend to have less bacteria in their guts. There is still much research to be done before the exact reasons for these links are clear, but in the meantime it makes sense to eat to keep our guts healthy.

What a healthy gut micro flora could mean for you:
• Digestive aid for fiber helping to unlock or release beneficial vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids from the foods we eat
• Synthesis of vitamins. Our gut bacteria synthesizes vitamin B12, a vitamin that primarily comes from animal food sources and fermented foods
• Release beneficial chemicals from food such as lycopene or isothiocyanate, both beneficial in preventing cancer
• Stimulate the immune system
• Suppress microorganisms that cause food poisoning. When you have a healthy gut flora, the bad bacteria can’t take over and make you sick

Fermented foods aid in a healthy gut environment by starting the processes mentioned above before we consume the food. Fermentation is an anaerobic process that breaks down fiber, synthesizes vitamins, and releases chemicals. Fermented foods are high in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and polyphenols. Eating fermented foods helps to create a healthy gut; a healthy gut leads to a healthy immune system; a healthy immune system leads to better overall health including prevention of weight gain, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

In every culture and in every food tradition fermented foods can be found. Beans, grains, vegetables, fruit, honey, dairy, fish, meat and tea have all been fermented at one point in time. In America some of the most common fermented foods are yogurt, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, and dry salami. A couple of my personal favorites are Kombucha tea of Chinese and Russian origin and Kimchi of Korean origin. Both of these foods are becoming popular in American culture and are easy to make at home and are two of the most nutritious fermented foods. Kimchi and kombucha are two foods that are easily assimilated to your personal tastes. You can add fruit juice or herbs to flavor the kombucha as you like and you can add a variety of vegetables including sea vegetables to kimchi for additional nutrition and flavor.


Purchase a high quality SCOBY

Brew 1 gallon organic black tea, add 1 cup sugar, allow to cool to ~100 degrees, add the SCOBY

Cover the container with a tightly woven cloth and rubber band. Place the container in a dark, warm, ventilated area for 7-21 days at ideal temperature of 75-85 degrees.

If you would like to learn more about fermented foods and how to incorporate them into your diet and lifestyle, please be in touch 207-594-0707