When you think about fermented products, you probably think of dairy products first. Kefirs and yoghurts are the two most popular fermented products and those that are easily available in most stores. However, if you are looking for products that supply your intestines with healthy bacteria, the leading trend is fermented vegetables, whose health properties exceed even yogurts.
Let’s look at some of them.
The power of food-friendly bacteria (probiotics)
No wonder that most people consume fermented vegetables mainly for their probiotic bacteria. Many of pickled vegetables also enjoy a unique taste, which is appreciated by many. During the fermentation of food, bacteria absorb starches from food and release by-products that create a friendly environment for the development of healthy, bowel-friendly bacteria. When you eat these foods, bowel-friendly bacteria get into your stomach and then go to your intestines. They nest here and help keep the balance in the digestive tract.
Good bacteria compete with other, less healthy bacteria for food and resources. By eating fermented foods, you make good bacteria predominate. This creates a more beneficial bacterial balance in the gut. This is important because research suggests that good bacteria affect the immune system. For example, if you need to take antibiotics, probiotics can help prevent one of the most common side effects of antibiotics – diarrhea. In addition, they help restore the intestinal balance after antibiotics that cause havoc in the gut.
In addition, studies show that probiotic bacteria can help people with some digestive disorders, including a very common irritable bowel syndrome.
How do probiotic bacteria manage to achieve this? As mentioned, they compete with bad bacteria for resources and reduce their ability to colonize the digestive system. They also affect immune cells and affect the release of cytokines, chemicals that may be pro- or anti-inflammatory. Surprisingly, over 70% of your immune system is in your interior, and what happens can affect your body’s ability to fight infection, help control inflammation and over-react the immune system.
Yoghurt, kombucha and kefir are a good source of probiotics, but they lack the ingredient that fermented vegetables have in abundance – prebiotics. Prebiotics are a form of fermented fiber on which probiotic intestinal bacteria develop. Therefore, eating prebiotic-rich fruits and vegetables helps to promote a good bacteria-friendly environment that we want to live in the intestines.
The 2002 study combined prebiotic-rich foods with better weight control and lower risk of obesity. Diets rich in prebiotics strengthen the feeling of satiety, so you eat less. This is due to the fact that prebiotics are high in fiber, a dietary ingredient known for controlling satiety. Some studies also combine diets rich in prebiotics with reduced release of ghrelin, an appetite hormone that increases hunger.
Increased nutritional value
Bacteria involved in the fermentation process produce vitamins, especially vitamin K and some B vitamins. In addition, „good” bacteria reduce the activity of anti-nutrients such as phytate, which can be found naturally in many plants. Phytate block the absorption of minerals, in particular zinc and iron. Therefore, fermenting vegetables increases their nutritional value.
As mentioned, during the fermentation process, bacteria produce enzymes that break down some of the ingredients in food. As a result, pickled vegetables are easier digested than raw, thanks to the fact that the enzymes produced during fermentation have already decomposed part of the carbohydrates.
After all, it is worth starting to include pickled vegetables into the diet, but gradually. If you start eating three portions of fermented vegetables a day, you can experience gas and flatulence. Start with one serving every second / third day and gradually increase their number in your menu. Research shows that even one serving a day brings benefits.
Are fermented products enough?
Studies show that probiotics derived from pickled vegetables and fermented dairy products are usually present in sufficient quantities to survive and reach the digestive tract and exert a positive effect on our health. So eating fermented vegetables is a small thing that you can do to nourish your intestines and help your immune system. In addition, vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which the body needs for optimal health. Probiotics is a bonus!
Remember that you will not feel the probiotic benefits by buying pickled canned cabbage or pickled cucumbers or other products that only pretend to be silages. These foods were exposed to heat, and any bacteria that once lived were destroyed. Usually you can find fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, in health food stores, in greengrocers. A good idea is also self-pickling vegetables.
Now you know why fermented vegetables are such a healthy and good choice. When you eat a portion of fermented vegetables, you provide fiber and nutrients, as well as live bacteria and prebiotics that offer fermented vegetables.
If you want to take care of your intestinal health, improve digestion and support the immune system, eat the silage.