Gut Health Archives - ig2go

Why Fermented Foods are Good for Your Gut

You’ve probably heard at least once that fermented foods are good for your digestive tract. But have you ever explored the reasons why? We’re diving into those details today to answer your questions, and to figure out how fermented foods occur, and what benefits they actually offer to our digestive system.

What is Fermentation?

Fermenting foods is not new, in fact, it’s been around for thousands of years and is one of the earliest methods of food preservation. Fermentation is the process that happens when Microorganisms like bacteria and yeast are introduced to help break down some of the food’s components. Most often those components are Sugar or Glucose, and they are broken down into alcohol or acids.

Fermentation is able to preserve food because the microorganisms responsible for the fermentation end up overtaking and destroying any bad bacteria in the food would lead to food-borne illnesses. Any microorganisms that are left, are considered GOOD bacteria and are safe for consumption by humans. It’s important to note that although fermentation is relatively simple, proper fermentation does require specific safety steps in order to limit the chance of something going awry.

Fermentation is responsible for such delights as Wine, Beer, Liquor, Cheese, Sourdough, Yogurt, Etc. Each of these fermentation by-products requires specific steps and even different microorganisms to come out as intended.

Human Bodies and Fermentation

Fermentation happens in two main ways within the human body. The first is in our muscle cells. When our cells run out of their primary energy source, ATP, they start producing extra ATP through Lactic Acid Fermentation for more energy. If you’ve ever sprinted and experienced a stitch in your side, that’s most likely the build-up of this lactic acid being created by your muscle cells.

The second form of fermentation that our bodies go through is a huge part of our digestive process. Our guts are home to hundreds of different bacteria species, working in harmony with our digestive and immune systems to break down complex carbohydrates and aid in nutrient absorption. Our bodies rely on this gut biome to function properly and to help fend off any bad bacteria that make their way into our digestive tract. Each person’s biome is slightly different, ad those differences are dependent on the person’s environment, diet, and unique body needs and requirements.

How Fermented foods benefit the body

  1. Fermented food with a living population of good bacteria or yeast, also called “Probiotics”, help your body’s own gut biome maintain its balance. When a gut biome is lacking diversity, or when they are weak due to poor nutritional intake, it can lead to a number of health problems that affect your whole body. Symptoms can include inflammation, IBS, and leaky gut syndrome.
  2. Probiotics help with food digestion of complex carbs and synthesizing certain vitamins like B12 and vitamin K.
  3. Anti-biotics are incredibly useful for many health conditions, but even though they are intended to attack the bad bacteria, they can still wreak havoc on our healthy gut biome. Probiotics can help restore that good bacteria and keep our digestive system working smoothly.
  4. On top of that, your overall gut health is thought to be linked to so many other systems, including bladder health, oral care, plaque build-up, pain sensitivity, blood pressure and blood sugar, and even brain health.

What fermented foods should you be eating?

It’s important to remember that not all fermented foods are going to provide the same benefits. Wine, cheese, and sourdough may all involve fermentation, but the final products no longer contain any live probiotic cultures. If you’re looking to add some probiotics to your diet, we would suggest the following:

  1. Kefir – a fermented dairy drink, thinner than yogurt, and excellent with fresh berries.
  2. Yogurt with live cultures – again, make sure the yogurt you choose says it contains live cultures, as not all yogurt will.
  3. Kombucha – a fermented tea drink, fizzy, somewhat tart, but very refreshing.
  4. Tempeh – fermented soybeans that have been compressed into a cake or patty. Commonly uses as a vegan meat substitute.
  5. Miso – also made by fermenting soybeans, but is ground down to a past that can be used in soup or sauces.
  6. Kimchi – Korean fermented vegetables, commonly used as a condiment or side dish in Asian cuisine
  7. Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage from eastern European cuisine. Also used commonly as a condiment on a number of popular dishes.

Are fermented foods safe for everyone?

Fermented foods are generally considered safe for most people. Anyone with a Histamine Intolerance should, or anyone who is immuno-compromised should consult their doctor for individual guidance. And it’s also important to know where your fermented foods are coming from. It’s not safe to play with bacteria if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Proper fermentation requires sterile equipment and proper temperature control. Most commercially available fermented foods should be safe, but we highly recommend you follow a vetted recipe if you are attempting to ferment at home.

How much should you be eating?

There’s not really a right answer to this question. If you’re new to fermented foods, eating too much at once may lead to some uncomfortable bloating. A good place to start is a single serving per day for the first few weeks, and working up from there. Listen to your body, and talk to your doctor if anything doesn’t feel right. Every individual is different, and every probiotic stain is a little different. It may take time to find out what cultures benefit your body the most, and how often your gut really benefits from that extra boost.

Not all Gluten Intolerance is the Same

“Gluten intolerance”, “Gluten allergy”, “Celiac”, and “gluten sensitive”, you’ve probably heard all of these before but what do these terms mean, and what’s the difference?

Although the majority of people digest and process gluten with no problem, about 6% of the US population has some form of intolerance to gluten. And by intolerance, we mean that the body has an adverse immune response when gluten is ingested. But just like everything else, no body is the same, and everyone who lives with gluten intolerance experiences different levels of sensitivity.

We are going to demystify and de-stigmatize these different levels of gluten intolerance, and offer some tips to be more accommodating to gluten intolerant guests and people in your life.

 

One of the most severe forms of this immune response is Celiac disease. Effecting only about 1% of the population, symptoms of Celiac disease can be very difficult to manage without taking steps to minimize exposure to gluten. Most symptoms stem outwardly from an immune response that causes the body to attack the digestive tract when gluten has been ingested. This causes a cascading set of symptoms in other bodily symptoms such as:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Diarrhea and constipation

 

The second most severe form of Gluten sensitivity is Gluten Ataxia. Like Celiac disease, this is also an immune response that causes the body to attack your brain an neurological system when gluten is ingested. Although Gluten Ataxia is pretty rare, it is nonetheless very serious.

 

For some people, the immune response may not be as strong and aggressive. These people are considered to be “gluten intolerant”. Symptoms may not be as severe, and they may not be as sensitive to trace amounts of gluten as those with Celiac would be. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect their day-to-day lives, and that they shouldn’t still be careful. For people with gluten intolerance, symptoms might include:

  • Bloating or stomach pain
  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Headaches or brain fog
  • Depression and anxiety

 

Last but not least, some people may not be sensitive to gluten specifically, but they could be allergic to wheat. This is more commonly seen in children under the age of 12, and only about 35% of children don’t grow out of the allergy as they get older. A wheat allergy causes symptoms similar to other allergic reactions, such as:

  • Skin rashes
  • digestive issues
  • Nasal congestion and Anaphylaxis

 

All that being said, gluten sensitivity is a serious condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is important to understand that gluten-sensitive people do not have a choice in how their body decides to respond, and they have every reason to be cautious and proactive when it comes to what they eat when they are not cooking for themselves. Gluten is a sneaky food, that can often hide in unexpected places, such as soy sauce, deli meats, and even some flavored potato chips.

 

If you have a gluten-sensitive person in your life, you’re likely familiar with the steps you should take to prevent gluten contamination between foods. If you don’t, and accommodating a gluten intolerant guest is new to you, some of our top recommendations would be:

  • use separate, clean utensils when preparing or serving gluten-free foods
  • use separate serving dishes for gluten-free foods
  • substiture gluten-free ingredients to modify a recipe when needed. there are tons of amazing options available today.
  • Cook from scratch when possible
  • Read the ingredient labels thoroughly
  • Talk to the gluten-sensitive person to understand what their preferences are and learn from their experiences directly.

 

A Word From IG

At IG, we understand how important it is for our gluten-free customers to have options, and to trust the food that they buy is truly gluten-free if it’s labeled that way. We are strong supporters of our gluten-free community in Tampa, and we work diligently to provide a wide variety of Gluten free baked goods and dishes. Our recipes are the result of years of trial and error because we believe that just because a cupcake is gluten-free, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be delicious. Everyone deserves to eat what they love, and love what they eat.

IS YOUR GUT MAKING YOU CRAZY?

We Welcome Guest Blogger and Friend Sarah Bingham founder of Fast Food Healing.

Sarah is a licensed nutrition consultant with a master’s degree and more than thirty-five years experience counseling and lecturing on all aspects of nutrition throughout the country. Her current focus is in family nutrition, helping parents recover their children from conditions like autism, ADD, ADHD, asthma and other learning/behavior issues. She is also a dynamic and passionate speaker who communicates with clarity, humor and inspiration the simplicity of achieving wellness.

Sarah works as the Director of Nutritional Programs for Valle Counseling in Tampa, FL. She is a certified GAPS (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) practitioner (see www.gaps.me). Sarah is the founder of Fast Food Healing LLC, a personalized in-home nutrition counseling business. Sarah always addresses body, mind and spirit as they are all critical to a healthy body.

Following is an article Sarah shared with us.  Did you know that 80-90% of your neurotransmitters (chemicals that effect your mood and brain function) are created in your gut? Also, the seat of your immune system is in your gut. Hence, that old saying, “I’ve got a gut feeling” is quite accurate. Hence, what research is beginning to put together is if your mood, mind or behavior are off, you have a very good chance of having a gut that is off and a poor immune system.

What do I mean by “off”? Your gut is loaded (about 4 pounds) with good guy bacteria. This good guy bacteria keeps in check the potentially bad guy bacteria that is also present. All of these microbes have important functions, like creating B vitamins, neurotransmitters, and anti-cancer substances. When the good guys are winning, your mood and ability to think are in great shape. Your immune system is also in good shape. But, when the bad guys are winning, you could be suffering from any one of these conditions: Irritable bowel, reflux, ADD, ADHD, asthma, autism, bipolar disease, food allergies and intolerance, depression, dyslexia, autoimmune disease and more.

What causes your gut to become out of balance? Antibiotics, stress, the birth control pill, most prescription drugs and a diet high in processed foods. So, take a mother to be who has eaten a processed diet her whole life, has had a few courses of antibiotics and is now pregnant. Her gut “flora” or bacteria are more than likely out of balance. A baby’s gut is sterile until going through the birth canal. At this point, the baby swallows some of the mother’s vaginal fluid, which is reflective of her gut balance or imbalance. Thus, the baby’s gut is inoculated with either good guy bacteria or bad guy bacteria. And the cycle begins again.

Sometimes it’s easy to bring your gut back into balance using probiotics, lactic acid fermented foods and good whole foods and sometimes it takes a major effort to accomplish a rebalancing of the gut. When I look out at our society with lots of depression, rage, anxiety, immune dysfunction and irritable bowel, I think we all need a major revamping of our gut flora. As Hippocrates said back in 400 BC, “All disease begins in the gut.”

love your gut