Tummy health is incredibly important. An upset stomach can wreck an entire day, give you pain and discomfort, put you in a bad mood, affect your sleep and majorly impact any weight loss attempts! So it’s crucial to keep our food digestor nice and happy. But how? Fermented foods!
Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is, of course, a must. You need plenty of vitamins, minerals, water and fibre, but that’s not all. And especially, if you’ve had an indulgent evening or even a few days, you’ll want to do something to offset the effects of all the treats and alcohol you’ve consumed.
Probiotics to the rescue! But not the silly yoghurts you’ll see endless adverts for. That’s child’s play. It’s time to go hardcore.
Bacteria is key
Eating fermented foods is exceptionally good for your digestive system. By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of good bacteria, but its importance isn’t really given its due. Maintaining good bacteria in your gut will make you feel like a whole new person – but it does mean introducing some new and exciting foods to your diet.
The easiest things to find in your local supermarket are sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir. It’s all about the live cultures! Here’s the tricky part though – you need to read the label carefully. A lot of these products claiming to be good for your gut are, in fact, pasteurised.
Now, that’s not to say that they’re completely useless if that’s the case. Pasteurisation primarily helps your food to keep for longer. However, in so doing, a lot of the best bacteria and most nutritional parts of the food are destroyed. It is important to note, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s not advised to consume unpasteurised products. Consult your doctor before making any dietary changes!
With this in mind, kombucha is your best bet, because you can now find it in any supermarket and most brands ensure that their drinks are unpasteurised. If you’re a fan of fizzy drinks, or your children are, this is a great substitute as it’s much lower in sugar and very good for tummies.
Supermarket vs local shops
Kefir and sauerkraut can be trickier. The majority of the stuff you’ll find in supermarkets are, in fact, pasteurised. For starters, when it comes to kefir, don’t get the flavoured stuff. Yes, it’s an unusual flavour if you’re unused to it, but the point of drinking kefir is for the health benefits – don’t load up on unnecessary sugar just for the sake of a different flavour. If the taste is really not to your liking or too boring, what you can do is drop fresh berries into your kefir instead!
To be clear, kefir should not be looked upon as an alternative to milk, nor can it be used in the same way. We do not recommend adding kefir to your cereal and definitely not to tea or coffee. I mean, you CAN, but you will not enjoy the outcome.
Fermented foods are particularly popular in Eastern Europe, so if you really want the good stuff, then check out your local Russian or Polish produce shops. These can often be cash-only or with a £5 spending minimum, so do come prepared. In London, there are some fantastic Eastern European shops just off Queensway tube station. Here you will find pure, unadulterated, raw unpasteurised sauerkraut and kefir.
Plus, since you’re there, do check out some other treats like sprats – oily, very healthy fish, or pelmeni – the Russian answer to tortellini! Best enjoyed with sour cream!
Not only will you get some top quality fermented goodies, but you’ll also be helping support local businesses. Just don’t get over-excited! Things like kefir should be enjoyed a few times a week, but not every day! And if you’re new to it, definitely start with small portions. Otherwise, you might need to stock up on some quilted toilet paper as well…