It is estimated that we have 100 trillion microorganisms that call our gut a cozy home. Crazy, huh?! Though they are not fully understood, they may have an impact on our immune system, brain health, hormone production, metabolism and much more!
When there is an abundance of “bad” bacteria, you may have experienced an interruption of the balance of your microbiota, known as Dysbiosis. This may be due to so many reasons but here are a few:
- a dietary change that increases your intake of protein, sugar, or food additives
- accidental chemical consumption, such as lingering pesticides on unwashed fruit
- an excess of alcoholic beverages
- new medications, such as antibiotics, that affect your gut flora
- poor dental hygiene, which allows bacteria to grow out of balance in your mouth
- high levels of stress or anxiety, which can weaken your immune system
- unprotected sex, which can expose you to harmful bacteria
Common symptoms include:
- bad breath
- upset stomach / nausea / constipation / diarrhea
- bloating / gas
- food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances
- IBS (irritable bowl syndrome)
- acne, roseacea, eczema
- rash or redness
- fatigue / having trouble thinking or concentrating
- anxiety / depression
- asthma, difficulty breathing
- immune system disorders
- compromised immune system, getting sick often
Essentially, your symptoms will depend on where the bacteria imbalance develops. They may also vary based on the types of bacteria that are out of balance. There is emerging evidence that what we eat, the microbes living in our gut, and our brains are interconnected. The nerves in our digestive tract, the enteric nervous system, communicate with the brain through neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Our gut microbes produce quite a lot of these neurotransmitters, which can affect our mood and may also play into food cravings and eating behaviors. Studies are showing that what we eat affects the composition of our gut bacteria, and these bacteria can then communicate back to the brain. Ever hear of the “gut-brain axis”? That is essentially it. A huge factor on maintaining a happy gut home relies on what you put into your belly. Feed it nutrient dense foods like all the veggies, fruits aaaaand something called fermented foods!
The word ferment means to incite or stir up. So to ferment food is to create an exciting atmosphere to turn carbohydrates into alcohol or organic acids using yeast or bacteria. Microbes are needed to turn food into it’s fermented version, which feeds on the sugar of the carbohydrate. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.
I went to my neighborhood Natural Grocers and snapped pics of fermented items to show you guys how many different ways you can add a little extra probiotics into your dietary regimen.
Below are beverages that most people have heard of, Kombucha. Look at the nutritional label and look for one with the lowest sugar content. A lot of these can actually be really high in sugar. These also contain small amounts of alcohol, due to the fermentation process, so this may also be of concern for some.
Did you know you can also make your own kombucha?!?! Read more about the Fermentation Creation Kit if you have interest in giving this a shot.
Stir things up in your kitchen with this Body Ecology Starter kits.
I love LOVE love Kala’s Kuisine products! Kala is based in Austin, TX.
Sriracha, anyone?!? Get it ALIVE by Wildbrine!
Barrell Creek Provisions make a promise “Fermented & Never Cooked”.
Re-established in the 80’s, “Anyone Can Make a Dill Pickle, but Not Like Bubbie” is the truth!
Kraut, Kraut, Kraut by Pickled Planet, an Oregon based company that only uses organic produce. I’ve yet to try this product since it’s fairly new to the store but I’m looking forward to their “Taqueria Mix” with carrots, onions & pickles.
YES! I love Farmhouse Culture kimchi and krauts! They also make SHOT! That are sooooo gooood!
Now we’re getting into some yogurts! This is from Kite Hill, I’m featuring their Almond Milk based yogurt, using non-GMO almonds. Their “Traditionally Cultured” means they add live active cultures. Side note, they make an amazing dairy free cream cheese! Try the chive one!
Culina, another “local-to-me” company! Started in an Austin Tx home kitchen, now sold in many health food stores. This thick, live cultures added, coconut cream based yogurt offers creative flavor pairings like Blueberry Lavender, Strawberry Rose and Bourbon Vanilla. YUM!
Ever hear of “Cashewgurt”?!? Forager nailed it with their Organic only cashew based yogurt!
GT’s, the company known for their Kombucha’s expanded their line and now offer coconut based yogurts and keifer. Cocoyo, I love this name, comes in Vanilla, Ginger Turmeric, Raspberry and Plain. I’m really looking forward to my first serving, this 8oz jar of Vanilla only yields 2gs of Sugar. Amazing.
Now we’re talking Kefir, a kind of like a drinkable yogurt!
Maple Hill Creamery is 100% Grassfed and Organic. They produce milk, delicious yogurt (which I’ve had) and kefir. I’ve yet to try their kefir but they’re described as super creamy, mildly tart and refreshing.
Inner-Eco belief is that “diversity brings stability to ecosystems”, further explaining that “Kefir cultures are one of the most diverse probiotic sources available thanks to its nearly 30 strains of friendly yeast and bacteria.” They simply combine coconut water with kefir cultures to produce their fizzy waters. You have the option to buy a 15oz bottle for a 30 servings supply (1 Tbsp a day) or a 1oz shot bottle.
GoodBelly Probiotics is a “one serving dose” a day drink. They say their drinks are just right for those who experience occasional digestive upsets and after a course of antibiotics. GoodBelly shots come in many fruit flavors, as it is fruit juice based. They’re packed with billions of probiotics in just one shot, as well as a whopping 9 grams of sugar. So maby opt for the “no sugar added” option if that is discouraging.
While fermented foods may provide many beneficial health benefits, they don’t always settle well with some. If you’re interested in a food or beverage, try a taste or consume half (or less) a bottle of kombucha. Save the rest for tomorrow. See how your belly does. Personally, my belly loves krauts and kimchis but I can only drink half a kombucha bottle when I decide on having some.