Get a Healthy Gut with Fermented Foods

By Kavita Devgan

Fermented foods are indeed the way forward. Yet, somehow we have forgotten about them, and eat them only sparingly these days. Traditional Indian diets have always placed a lot of emphasis on them and included them regularly in the diet. Remember that omnipresent bowl of curd and a small dollop of a homemade pickle in the platter, no meal was considered complete without them.

It’s time to bring these ‘good for us’ foods back into our diet as research worldwide is now making it clear that our gut needs a regular infusion of good bacteria to stay healthy and disease-free, and the easiest and most practical way to source these are via fermented foods.

Benefits

Fermented foods restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut and help in absorbing the nutrients we are eating via other foods better. The key to a longer, healthier life lies in intestinal health – keep the intestines healthy and happy, your body will stay the same.

In addition, they are easy to digest, are loaded with multiple good micronutrients, and help spice up our taste buds too. They are also brilliant for our immunity too.

There are lots of traditional fermented foods like the fermented radish root pieces called sinki in the northeast, gundruk soup eaten in Arunachal Pradesh, fermented rai, which cures stomach pain and gas trouble, that is still eaten across India. Similarly, all cultures worldwide have their own stock of fermented foods: Bonny Clabber (Scotland), Filmjölk (Sweden), Villi (Finland), Matsoni (Russia and Georgia), Doenjang (Korea), and Bland, a traditional Scottish drink are some popular names.

Yogurt is the commonest fermented food.

The Drinks

Kanji, a traditional drink made with black carrots, mustard seeds, sea salt, and water, is fermented for a week – and is thus loaded with good bacteria. Kullu is a fermented drink made with buttermilk and wheat in Himachal Pradesh. Kefir, which originated in Russia, and Miso, used in Japanese cooking, are the other drinks.

The Exotic

Tempeh is from Indonesia and contains more protein and fiber than the more popular tofu while Kimchi and Sauerkraut are interesting too.

(Kavita Devgan is a nutritionist, weight management consultant, and health writer based in Delhi.)

Image courtesy of (Image Courtesy: Harvard Health)

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