For thousands of years, people around the world have consumed fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and various fermented vegetables.
So, why are they important? Well, people with autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Lupus, will suffer from intestinal dysbiosis. Intestinal dysbiosis is an imbalance in the normal flora of the intestinal tract (gut). What’s more…
Toxins – Their Affect on Our Cells
However, when the balance starts to shift, the intestinal lining can become damaged. The naturally occurring intestinal toxins (from our stool) can leak into the blood stream. These toxins then deposit in joints (RA), thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s), muscles and tendons (Fibromyalgia), and other tissues of the body. This sets the stage for an autoimmune disorder. It is my theory that the immune system is not attacking the body; it is actually attacking the toxin that’s in the tissue. All in all, in this process, the body’s tissues become damaged.
Take An Inside Look
Mucous Membrane Lining
This picture of several yellow fingers that are called villi. The villi has a border that stops the absorption of the toxins from your stool from getting into your blood stream. They are like the Border Patrol designed to stop illegal immigrants from getting into our country.
Here is a picture of one villi called a villus. Notice there is an artery inside the villus. The red cells on the outside protect the artery from the toxins inside the intestines. These toxins come from the formation of stool. Intestinal dysbiosis can cause damage to these protective cells allowing the toxins to enter your bloodstream, setting up potential autoimmune disorders.
Unfortunately, an imbalance in the gut flora can contribute to this phenomenon called leaky gut. Leaky gut is one of the requirements for developing an autoimmune disease, as per Dr. Alessio Fassano, one of the lead researchers on leaky gut disorders.
So, What’s The Fix?
The process of fermenting foods not only preserves them, but improves their flavor, enhances their digestibility, and the nutrient status. One of the most important functions of the fermentation process is that it produces beneficial bacteria. A healthy balance of gut flora is critical for things like immune health, nutrient absorption, weight control, weight loss, and detoxification. But beware, beneficial bacteria decline when there’s an abundance of processed foods, sugar, antibiotics, medications, toxins, and chronic stress.
Fermentation is the process where beneficial bacteria such as lactobacilli and yeasts break down food sugars, starches, and proteins into lactic acid, carbon dioxide, and enzymes. In turn, they then produce more beneficial bacteria. The lactic acid produces an environment that inhibits pathogenic and opportunistic bacteria (the bad bugs that you don’t want renting a room in your intestinal tract).
A Few Pointers
Proper fermentation must be done with salt, NOT vinegar. Salt stops the growth of bad bacteria and will stop the food from going bad during the fermentation process. The salt should preferably be non-iodized (contain no added iodine) and be unprocessed. Himalayan pink salt is wonderful for fermenting as this contains minerals that help the lactobacilli grow.
Traditionally, fermented foods use a starter kit to initially establish a presence of beneficial bacteria. Something to be mindful of is to be careful of using starter cultures made from whey. If a person has a dairy sensitivity or allergy, the whey will affect them. Additionally, the water should be pure, filtered water that is free of fluoride and chlorine. Use organic herbs and spices such as basil, dill and garlic. The bacteria uses the minerals for energy, in which helps with enzyme production.
The Major Benefits of Fermented Foods
1. Enzymes produced in the fermentation process help to digest foods that you eat.
2. Removes toxins from the body, improve the immune system, and reduce growth of harmful yeasts, bacteria, and parasites.
3. Makes it easier for your body to process the naturally occurring sugars in the food by helping to prevent spikes in blood sugar.
4. Produces vitamin C and folic acid.
6. Aids in absorption of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper by reducing chemicals called phytates and oxalates (found in grains, nuts, and veggies).
7. They are acidic, which can aid in the digestive process even further by lowering the pH of the contents of the stomach.
Ultimately, fermented foods should be consumed daily. Start with a small amount and gradually increase the amount. It is more beneficial to eat small amounts (2-3 tablespoons) at least 1 time per day than in large amounts less frequently. They should be consumed cold to preserve their enzymes and probiotics. Re-balancing the gut bacteria will lead to normalization of leaky gut and provide support to manage autoimmune conditions. Re-balancing can be done through diet, the correct probiotics, such as, Dr. Rob’s Ultimate Flora Support, digestive enzymes, and/or other natural compounds.