There are many benefits to your health from eating fermented foods, including benefiting your fertility nutrients, mostly because you are quickly adding millions of beneficial bacteria to your gut which our digestive system needs to work at its best. And luckily there is so much more delicious choice nowadays in fertility friendly fermented foods than the usual daily yoghurt or probiotic drink. There is also increased nutritional interest and evidence around gut health and eating fermented vegetables, fish and beans at the moment, particularly in regard to Middle Eastern, Asian and Korean diets which include natural pickles, kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut, beet kvass, water and milk kefir, and miso, as these foods contain large amounts of the healthy microbes that keep your stomach healthy.
The increased interest is based on the idea that fermented foods contain large amounts of probiotic microbes which are needed to improve intestinal bacteria and improve digestion. These natural probiotics help in aiding IBS, boosting immunity, regulating hormones, reducing inflammation and controlling blood sugar levels. Incorporating traditional fermented foods into your diet will promote a healthy gut, which in turn lowers levels of food intolerances and other immuno-response diseases, helping you to absorb more of the essential nutrients from the foods you eat.
Fermentation is a traditional, ancient and natural process, which preceeds human history. It has been carried out in order to preserve foodstuffs such as bread, yoghurt, wine and beer and to create flavours. It occurs due to microbes such as yeast and bacteria transforming less useful products into useful products.
At its simplest, the fermentation of vegetables works as follows: vegetables are soaked in salt water or preferably their own juice; this allows for the growth of bacteria; these bacteria eat the vegetable’s sugars; as a result, they produce lactic acid which has a sour/tart taste, depending on pH levels and palate. This is called lacto-fermentation and is the most common type of fermentation.
Fermentation for fertility
A healthy gut isn’t just important for your general health, it is vital if you are trying to improve your fertility in preparation for conception. Fermented foods provide beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and lauric acid, which promote a happy digestive tract. Good digestion and absorption of food is vital in a fertility diet if you are trying to conceive. Fermented foods such as natural pickles, sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, as well as yoghurt and kefir, and the fermented beverage kombucha all have higher levels of nutrients than their non-fermented counterparts, including B-vitamins (such as folate and vitamin B6 which helps with morning sickness!) as well as vitamin K2 (menaquinone). Vitamin K2 is generally found in grassfed dairy, meat and eggs and ferments. Vitamin K2, is made by the bacteria that line the gastrointestinal tract. It is important for blood clotting, bone health and is used to build the blood vessel walls, bones and tissue.
Try to eat or drink some fermented foods once or twice a day. If you are new to fermented foods start off slowly by eating around one tablespoon per day, gradually increasing the amount at each meal.
Sauerkraut, or soured cabbage, is one of the best probiotic foods, so if you’re wondering what to make with cabbage that’s a little different, then give sauerkraut a try … it’s so easy!
Try making your own sauerkraut.
1kg organic green cabbage – finely chopped
1½ tbsp per 1kg of cabbage – good quality coarse sea salt
1 tbsp of either caraway seeds and/or chopped dill
Chop the cabbage very finely and place into a large bowl. Add the salt, which will draw water from the cabbage and create the brine in which the cabbage will ferment. Next, using a rolling pin, bash the cabbage for up to 10 minutes to break up the cellular structure of the leaves. Add the spices/herbs and mix thoroughly. Place the cabbage mixture into a large jar, pot or bowl. Pack it down tightly, trying to push as much air out as possible, but leave around 2in space at the top. Cover with a clean small plate that fits inside the jar and place a weight on top of the plate. This will force the brine to rise high enough to cover the cabbage mix. Leave for 3-4 weeks. Remember to check your sauerkraut every couple of days to check that it is covered in brine.
Or, make your own homemade coconut yoghurt.
16 oz coconut flesh, cleaned (about 3 large young coconuts)
1 cup coconut water
Juice of 1 fresh lime
1 probiotic capsule
Blend together the coconut flesh, coconut water and lime juice. Add more coconut water if you would prefer it to be thinner. Empty the probiotic capsule and blend together for a few seconds. Pour contents into a clean glass jar and cover with cheesecloth. Leave on the side to ferment for 12 hours, overnight is ideal. Refrigerate and eat with fresh fruit!
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