By Eileen M Kenison

Just recently sauerkraut and other fermented foods seem to be all the hype in the clean eating world. But why? Remember when I said I cured myself with my organic diet? Remember how I was a skeptic at first? Well, I totally understand if you are too. When it came to fermented foods, not only was I a skeptic, I  also thought…. YUCK!  Over time I have grown to truly enjoy many fermented foods and I figured out what the hype is all about…….

I have learned that our gut holds the key to our health. I have also learned that most disease originates in our gut. Once you heal your gut and make your digestive system work properly, disease symptoms will resolve on their own.

You may be thinking the same thing I was thinking when I first heard that I needed to heal my gut. “I don’t have any gut or stomach issues.” And this may seem true to you. However, after doing my research, I have found that many diseases originate in the gut. For example, if you suffer from any of the following diseases you may want to start treatment with your gut first before resorting to medication: MS, Lupus, Kidney Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Thyroid Disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Depression, ADHD, ADD, OCD, Food Allergies, Gout, Asthma, IBS, Allergies, Yeast Infections, Eczema……..  I found this list to be endless.

This is where the fermented foods come into play. First, “What are fermented foods?” You may have heard of sauerkraut and kimchee.   These are just two examples of fermented foods.   Fermented foods are foods that have been  through a process of lacto fermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid.  This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, vitamins, acids and probiotics.

People all over the world have been fermenting foods since ancient times. However fermented foods have begun to disappear from  American dinner plates. We are finding that in today’s world of antibiotics, chlorinated water and antibacterial soaps we are failing to replenish the good bacteria in our bodies. Therefore we are not effectively getting the much needed nutrients from our foods.

Fermented foods restore the proper balance of bacteria in our gut. Fermented foods are rich in enzymes. Our bodies need enzymes to digest, absorb and utilize the nutrients in our food. You can eat a great diet full of nutrients, but unless you actually absorb them, it’s useless. When you improve digestion, you improve absorption.

Now of course you’re ready to go shopping for some good fermented foods. Be sure to shop for raw foods that are kept in the cold food section of your super market. Start small. Try adding one or two servings a day. Some of my favorite fermented foods are Kombucha, Kefir, Kimchee, Sauerkraut & Miso.

Many of the local super markets have many varieties available. When I first started adding these foods to my daily diet I was afraid, as I imagine you are too.   This is where my motto ” See food differently” came from. Instead of sitting down to a bowl of sauerkraut I would eat a serving at the same time I took my daily vitamins. I didn’t see it as “food”  I saw it as something I needed to do to feel better. Kombucha (which is now one of my favorite beverages to enjoy) was something I had a hard time choking down. I would fill a shot glass a day and force myself to choke it down before my morning tea. Many of these foods have very strong bold flavors which you too will learn to enjoy! In the mean time, see it differently.  We have all taken prescriptions for our health that tasted awful.  We did it because it was going to make us better.  Well, this too will make you better!  You will feel better, brighter, and lighter as  your symptoms will resolve.