…IDEAL for promoting that all-important gut health.

Fermented foods are having something of a moment right now. Appearing on trendy menus up and down the land and making celebrities of their chef champions, ingredients like koji and kombucha are now part of our culinary culture, with crocks and kiokes increasingly found in kitchen cupboards across the country.

Aside from their deliciousness, fermented foods are incredibly healthy, and this is largely down to the probiotics produced in the fermenting process. Commonly found in fermented foods with active live bacterial cultures (such as yoghurt, sauerkraut and kimchi), probiotics are also available as supplements in the form of both liquid and chewable capsules. The known health benefits of probiotics are mostly to do with the digestive system, but recent research suggests several other potential positive impacts, too. With this in mind, here are 5 reasons to include fermented foods full of probiotics in your diet, IDEAL for promoting that all-important healthy gut.  

A HEALTHY GUT

Over the past decade, our understanding of probiotics in the field of health care has increased.  An extensive amount of research has been conducted regarding the health benefits of probiotic foods and supplements, particularly in relation to probiotic effects on gastrointestinal health. 

Our intestinal ecosystems contain a sensitive balance of healthy microflora such as good bacteria and yeast, which are necessary for digestive health. Unfortunately, in our daily lives, we expose our gut to environmental toxins like processed foods, drugs, and stress that put this healthy balance at risk. Foods high in probiotics (yoghurt, kefir, miso and dark chocolate) and probiotic supplements encourage the “good” bacteria in our digestive tract to aid in digestion, a healthy immune system, and consuming “bad” bacteria.

A GLOWING COMPLEXION

But that’s not all; an increasing amount of research is linking probiotics with healthy skin, and the potential anti-aging effect of these foods and supplements, as shown on Health Irony, have ignited a new area of research.  

The link between probiotics and anti-aging indicates that maintaining a healthy level of good bacteria in the gut can help a range of skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, promoting the healing of burns and scars, rejuvenating the skin and strengthening its resilience. 

Indeed, good bacteria in your gut can also help you eliminate the toxins and free radicals that can damage skin and cause early signs of aging. In addition, early research suggests that probiotics may help to build collagen, a protein that provides elasticity to your skin, and aid in hydration. 

It is important to keep in mind that results have seen significant variance and research is still in its infancy.  

FIGHT ACNE…

Some recent minor studies from around the world (in Russia, and Korea) have suggested that probiotics found in food or health supplements may boost the effects of standard acne treatments. In other words, when combined with traditional acne treatment, probiotics clear blemishes quicker and improve patient tolerance to the antibiotics used in such treatment.

Research indicates a link between your gastrointestinal tract and skin, as your gut flora is responsible for absorbing nutrients and eliminating toxins. Unhealthy gut flora leads to an increase in bad bacteria and encourages a range of skin issues, including chronic inflammations, which is a cause of acne and other skin problems.

…& ECZEMA

What’s more, a number of scientific studies have shown promise in using probiotics to prevent and treat eczema.  A Finnish study by Kuitunen at the Helsinki University Central Hospital found that probiotics reduced the incidence of atopic eczema in infants up to the age of 2 years. In this study, pregnant mothers took probiotic supplements for 2 to 4 weeks before birth and continued to take the supplement for the first 6 months of breastfeeding. Half of the infants exhibited a decrease in eczema prevalence until 2 years old.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, FERMENTED FOODS ARE DAMN DELICIOUS

Beer, wine, bread, cheese, chocolate, fish sauce, katsuobushi, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, pickles….fermented foods bring great intrigue and depth to our meals, and appear in many mysterious ways. Without the wonderful process, we’d be missing out on so many of our most beloved foods, as well as many hidden in the depths of our favourite dishes. Health benefits and utter deliciousness…there really is no reason not to eat more fermented foods today!

Fermenting, pickling, smoking and curing…these are all great ways to use up leftover fruit and veg that you’ve got hanging around in your fridge. Check out our 5 IDEAL things to do with your leftover onions and shallots for some inspiration.