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How Fermented Foods Improve Digestive Health
Yogurt with Berries | Digestion | Gastroenterologist Atlanta

Yogurt is the most widely recognized fermented food on the market today.

Fermentation is a process that humans have used to preserve food for thousands of years. Fermentation occurs when microorganisms transform sugars and carbohydrates into lactic acid. The result is that fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria, good microflora and enzymes. Many of these beneficial bacteria or probiotics will help with digestive health. The beneficial bacteria continue to grow in the body after eating fermented products and can heal the lining of the gut or reduce the permeability of the intestines.

The most widely recognized fermented item on shelves today is yogurt. Yogurt contains a number of bacteria like lactobacillus. These organisms can actually replace naturally occurring bacteria in the intestines. This restores balance to the body and reduces the severity of food intolerances and digestive issues like gas. A similar fermented milk beverage is known as Kefir. Kefir has a large number of beneficial bacteria and yeasts. Kefir has a sour taste similar to yogurt.

Unpasteurized sauerkraut contains many helpful bacteria such as lactobacillus, leuconostoc and pediococcus. Additionally, sauerkraut has a large amount of vitamins and nutrients from the cabbage. Eating unpasteurized sauerkraut will help to replace essential bacteria and heal the gut. It also allows the body to digest foods more easily. This increases the effectiveness of the immune system and can fight certain gastrointestinal diseases.

Several fermented Asian foods are incredibly healthy for the body and digestive system. Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans that contain over 100 different types of beneficial bacteria. Miso is often used in soups. Tempeh is a block of fermented soybeans that contains good bacteria as well as antibiotics that kill harmful bacteria. The good bacteria technically start digesting the foods during fermentation. This reduces the amount of work the body must do to extract nutrients. Miso and tempeh both improve digestive health.

Several other fermented products are available. Some include fermented pickles, real sourdough bread made from a starter and even soft cheeses that have been aged. Eating these foods increases the ability of the body to fight harmful organisms in the gut such as parasites and viruses. The foods maintain the critical balance between good and bad bacteria.

Eating fermented foods can help people who have Leaky Gut Syndrome. This syndrome occurs when the lining of the bowels becomes too porous. This allows harmful substances to leave the gut and enter the bloodstream. Fermented foods can prevent or heal some of the inflammation, damage and bacterial imbalances that are thought to cause the syndrome.

Eating foods that are fermented should be a regular part of any healthy diet. The wide variety of foods available today makes it easy to pair fermented products with everyday dishes. This will help to keep colonies of good bacteria active in the gut. The result is better digestion, higher nutrient absorption and fewer health issues. It is best to try to eat one to three servings of foods like yogurt every day.

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