Will eating fermented foods make any difference to your health?

It has taken me a long time to recognise the benefits of fermented (probiotic) foods. I’ve been reading about them for years. People have recommended kefir and yoghurt, sauerkraut, kombucha and other naturally fermented foods. But for some reason I’ve never grasped the importance of these foods and drinks.

My eyes were opened recently by reading the story of Donna Schwenk. Donna became pregnant at the age of 41 with her third child. She had a difficult pregnancy and developed Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and other health issues. In the seventh month of her pregnancy, she was rushed into hospital for an emergency ceasarian section to deliver her child.

Donna struggled with poor health for several months but she was determined to get well. She discovered a book called “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon. It recommended consumption of naturally fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut.

Donna’s intuition told her this was the way to go. She jumped in with both feet. She started consuming large amounts of kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut. In retrospect she recognises most people should start more slowly with fermented foods. There can be negative reactions initially if your gut flora are badly unbalanced. Nevertheless, Donna got through a few days of adjustment to the large doses of probiotics. From then on, her health rapidly improved.

Today, 18 years later, Donna is a passionate evangelist for fermented foods. She runs an inspiring website www.culturedfoodlife.com.

I have spent several hours reading almost every blog post, watching videos and listening to podcasts on Donna’s website! Finally, I am convinced about the benefits of fermented foods!

I have started consuming kefir, yoghurt, kombucha and sauerkraut every day. I am taking the slow approach. Just small amounts each day. I have only been going a couple of weeks so it’s too early to notice any dramatic changes in my health. I can say, though, my bowel movements are much easier. I will report on progress over the coming months as I continue to take these fermented, probiotic foods.

Your amazing gut

It’s hard to grasp what is actually happening inside our digestive system every day. There are trillions of microorganisms (bacteria) everywhere and you can’t see them. These bacteria outnumber the cells in our body ten to one. And 99% of these bacteria are beneficial – in fact essential – to our health.

We tend to think of bacteria as being bad. For many years, doctors have been prescribing antibiotics to kill bacteria. I believe this is a cause of many health problems we are seeing today. Of course, there are times when antibiotics are needed and should be used. But this should be infrequent and as little as possible, so we don’t kill the good bacteria that protect us.

The more good bacteria you have, the less sickness and disease you will experience. Our bodies are designed this way. Scientists are only scratching the surface of the amazing world that lives in our gut! We need good bacteria to digest food, to synthesize certain vitamins, and to form a barricade against bad, disease-causing bacteria. But this is just the beginning of understanding what they can do. Scientists are now saying bacteria control our weight and brain chemistry, and the list keeps growing.

So, it makes sense to eat foods that makes these beneficial bacteria grow in your gut.

To quote from Donna’s website:

“When I started to consume these foods, I got better. Not just better… I went from really sick with diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic inflammation to feeling like I was aging backward. Everything started working better. My brain was clearer, my emotions were enhanced, my joint pain was gone, allergies got better, serotonin produced feelings of well-being – and sadness and despair… gone. Oh, how I love these foods because they brought me here.

You don’t have to believe me, just open your mind to the fact that there is something living inside of you by the trillions that is trying to help you. Don’t kill it! Feed it probiotic foods and watch it grow and thrive. Get to know the bacteria inside of you and they will change not only your digestion and stomach problems, but you will see improvement in so many other health issues as well.

They will convince you of their power and then you will know for yourself. You’re so much more than flesh and bones. You’re mostly bacteria – the good kind. Get to know your bacteria and become friends. They have always been there, helping you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They don’t get weekends or vacations, they slave away night and day assisting the numerous processes in your body. They can make you well. It’s their job, but they need your help. They’ll be your very best friends.”

Watch Donna’s inspiring story in the video below:

I will write more about fermented foods over the coming weeks and months, and let you know my own experience with them. In the meantime, I would be interested to hear from anyone who has experiences with fermented foods to share.

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