Published in The White Rock Sun, June 2017
A poor balance of “gut bacteria” is thought to be linked to many health problems. And although more research is needed, so far, it seems to makes sense. Without balanced intestinal microbiota we can't absorb many of the nutrients from our food. This weakens our immune system (among other things) and makes us susceptible to poor health.
This focus on gut health is making “fermented foods” increasingly popular, even though they have been around for a long time. Fermented foods can encourage and maintain balanced gut microbiota.
But surprisingly, no one seems to question why we need to focus on fermented foods in the first place.
Fermented foods (created by humans, by the way) are merely treating the symptoms of a poor diet. We need to get to the real root of the problem:
Fix our diets.
Our diet is rich in human-altered, highly refined foods that ruin the balance of our gut bacteria, or at the very least contribute nothing beneficial to it.
Nature gave us foods like vegetables as the perfect, natural probiotic (stimulates growth of beneficial bacteria). And many vegetables, along with other whole, natural foods also act as prebiotics (food for the probiotics). Yet few of us eat lots of vegetables – or a diet rich in whole, unchanged foods.
I’m not cutting down fermented foods. Eat them if you like them. Many are very nutritious. But you have a very narrow focus if you believe eating fermented foods and/or taking probiotic/prebiotic supplements is solving your health problem. You are just treating the symptoms, not permanently addressing the underlying issue: Your overall diet. And an untreated health issue will just snowball into other health problems in the future.
In addition, it’s never a good idea to rely on or become obsessed with one food or type of food – like fermented foods – to improve health. It’s the balance and variety of all whole food sources that ensures good health, not the magical properties of a few superfoods. All whole foods are really superfoods in that their differing nutrients work together as a team to ensure our survival.
Eat a wide variety of whole, real foods. Foods retain their nutrients when they are altered as little as possible by humans. They also retain their “mysterious” functions in our bodies, which we do not yet fully understand.
We haven’t identified everything in our foods or how they ‘work’ in the human body. And if we don’t understand it, how can we change it or make it better? Therefore, the original designer of our food sources and our bodies
(Mother Nature) is who we should trust. Not someone in a laboratory wearing
a white coat. And not someone selling you a product or supplement (like
fermented foods and probiotics).
Use common sense in your quest for good health. Eat real, whole foods. The way nature intended.
And everything in your gut should balance out nicely.
Eve Lees has been active in the Health & Fitness Industry for over 35 years. She is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications.