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Could your gut use some help?

health tips well-being Dec 05, 2020

Are you feeling bloated? Feeling like you have to cut out food groups to feel better? Perhaps you have digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, or skin issues such as acne, rashes, hives, eczema, or psoriasis?⁠ Or perhaps yeast issues such as yeast infections or toenail fungus? An intestinal diagnosis such as Crohn's, colitis, IBS, or celiac?

Well, all of these symptoms can be related to imbalances in your microbiome.

In order to keep our microbiome balanced, we need a few things in our diet & lifestyle.  First, we need probiotic rich foods such as kimchi, kefir & sauerkraut. These foods are naturally full of beneficial bacteria that are needed by the body to properly digest food and absorb nutrients. Your body has resident beneficial bacteria, but when stress comes in or we begin to eat the wrong food then this bacteria needs a bit of support and this is where fermented food comes in.

We also need prebiotic-rich food, this is fiber-rich food that the beneficial bacteria feed on. As well as antifungal & antibacterial food that keeps pathogenic bacteria and yeast in the right balance in the body.

Unfortunately, our modern North American diet doesn't have sufficient amounts of these foods. On the contrary, it has proportionately more food to feed our pathogenic bacteria and yeast. 

So if you are suffering from symptoms of a gut imbalance then adding in fermented foods might be a wise first step to help alleviate some of these symptoms.

Fermented foods have been a hot topic for the last few years. Various new products have been introduced both in health food stores and the mainstream market – namely in the form of probiotic-rich yogurts, and other health food products such as kefir and kombucha. 

Although fermented foods may seem like a new food product category, they have in fact been used traditionally for centuries in various cultures, mainly as a means of food preservation or to improve the taste of food. However, they are also used to both increase the nutritional value of food, and for their medicinal properties.

Fermented foods are commonly consumed across the globe. For example, Germany is known for its sauerkraut, India for lassi (a pre-dinner yogurt drink), Bulgaria and Russia for fermenting milk and kefir, Korea for kimchi and other fermented vegetables, and China for fermented soy.

In fact, many of the foods we are familiar with here in Canada are processed using a fermentation technique. Most familiar to us would be beer, wine, and those containing lactic acids, such as sourdough, yogurt, cheese, and sauerkraut.

 So, what is fermentation?
 Fermentation is an anaerobic (oxygen-free) metabolic process in which an organism (i.e. bacteria, yeasts or other microorganisms) converts starches or sugar (carbohydrate) into an alcohol or an acid (lactic acid and acetic acid). For example, yeasts perform fermentation to obtain energy by converting sugar into alcohol and bacteria perform fermentation, converting carbohydrates into lactic acid bacteria, which provides a number of health benefits including cholesterol and digestive support (1).
The highlight of the benefits
 A myriad of research has been performed on fermented foods for more than 30 years, and the research results are very promising. Some of the benefits found in the research include:
  • Fermentation increases the bioavailability of the micronutrients in foods, including B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc, omega 3 fatty acids (playing a critical role in communication in and between nerve cells) and phytochemicals to name a few (2).
  • Fermented foods are full of probiotics or good bacteria. Consuming fermented foods will actually increase the intestinal quantity and diversity of resident microflora (3).
  • They improve mental health by decreasing anxiety, improving cognitive function, diminishing perceptions of stress and improving mental outlook (4), increasing tryptophan levels and alter dopamine and serotonin turnover in cortex and limbic system (5).
  • They protect intestinal lining, thereby leading to improvement of allergies and eczema (6).
  • Along with our own resident bacteria, fermented foods help balance blood sugar. They have also been found to improve fasting insulin levels and glucose turnover rates, even with a high fat diet (7).
  • Fermented foods help to optimize the immune system. It’s estimated that a significant portion (80%) of our immune system is located in the gut. Probiotics help to develop the mucosal lining and immune system of the digestive tract and produce antibodies to pathogens (8)

You can support your health using fermented foods in quick and easy ways, by simply inserting them into your diet on a daily basis.


Lara’s recommendations

 Try These Useful Tips:
  • Add a ¼ cup of kefir to your morning smoothie

  • Make a miso soup a few times a week 

  • Spice up your salad by adding a couple of tablespoons of kimchi

2. D’Aimmo MR, Mattarelli P, Biavati B, Carlsson NG, Andlid T. The potential of bifidobacteria as a source of natural folate. J Appl Microbiol. 2012;112:975–984. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2012.05261.x. Bergillos-Meca T, Navarro-Alarcón M, Cabrera-Vique C, Artacho R, Olalla M, Giménez R, Moreno-Montoro M, Ruiz-Bravo A, Lasserrot A, Ruiz-López MD. The probiotic bacterial strain Lactobacillus fermentum D3 increases in vitro the bioavailability of Ca, P, and Zn in fermented goat milk. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2013;151:307–314. doi: 10.1007/s12011-012-9544-0.

3. Probiotic therapy to men with incipient arteriosclerosis initiates increased bacterial diversity in colon: a randomized controlled trial. Karlsson C, Ahrné S, Molin G, Berggren A, Palmquist I, Fredrikson GN, Jeppsson B Atherosclerosis. 2010 Jan; 208(1):228-33.

4. Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: from Metchnikoff to modern advances: part III – convergence toward clinical trials. Bested AC, Logan AC, Selhub EM Gut Pathog. 2013 Mar 16; 5(1):4.

5. Desbonnet L, Garrett L, Clarke G, Bienenstock J, Dinan TG. The probiotic Bifidobacteria infantis: an assessment of potential antidepressant properties in the rat. J Psychiatr Res. 2008;43:164–174. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.03.009.

6. MacFarlane, G.T. and Cummings, J.H. (2002) Probiotics, infection and immunity. Curr Opin Infect Dis 15, 501–506.

7. Ejtahed HS, Mohtadi-Nia J, Homayouni-Rad A, Niafar M, Asghari-Jafarabadi M, Mofid V. Probiotic yogurt improves antioxidant status in type 2 diabetic patients. Nutrition. 2012;28:539–543. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2011.08.013. Park DY, Ahn YT, Huh CS, McGregor RA, Choi MS. Dual probiotic strains suppress high fructose-induced metabolic syndrome. World J Gastroenterol. 2013;19:274–283. doi:

8. Perdigon, G. and Alvarez, S. (1992) Probiotics and the immune state. In Probiotics. The Scientific Basis ed. Fuller, R. p, 146–180. London: Chapman and Hall.


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