Why fermented foods are "So Good" for gut-health - and the easiest (and therefore the best!) kimchi recipe in the world!
Fermentation has been an effective way of preserving foods for thousands of years, with the first evidence dating around 7000 BC in what was Neolithic China (!). During the fermentation process microorganisms like yeast and bacteria convert carbohydrates such as sugar and starch into alcohol and acids. These in term act as preservatives and gives the fermented foods and drinks a distinctive tanginess as a result. Well-known fermented foods include kimchi, cheese, sauerkract, yogurt, and of course – kombucha!
So why are fermented foods “So Good”?
There are a number of reasons, but the gist of it is that a variety of beneficial bacteria (known as probiotics) are present in fermented foods, which helps to restore the balance of bacteria in your gut. This is why it is commonly believed that probiotics can help with alleviating IBS symptoms such as bloating and gas, as well as help with general digestive problems (1). Higher microbiome diversity is considered good for your health in many other ways as well, these include:
- Aid indigestion: certain bacteria digest fiber, producing short-chain fatty acids, which are important for gut health. Fiber may help prevent weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and the risk of cancer. The fermentation process helps to break down foods and make them easier in general to digest, and helping the body to absorb beneficial nutrients (2, 3)
- Boost the immune system: fermented foods are rich in iron, zinc, and vitamin C, all of which are beneficial towards the immune system (4, 5). In addition, studies have shown that consuming probiotic foods may help reduce the risk of infections and help reduce recovery time (6, 7).
- Supports mental health : new studies have linked Lactobacillus helveticusand Bifidobacterium longum (both probiotics found in fermented foods) to helping to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression (8, 9).
- Lower risk of Heart disease: more studies are required in humans but there is evidence of probiotics contributing towards a reduction of blood pressure and “bad” cholesterols (10, 11).
Apart from Kombucha, our favourite fermented food has got to be the spicy and appetising culinary marvel that is KIMCHI ! Living in the centre of the UK (Derby) – it isn’t easy to get access to traditional Korean recipe ingredients such as fermented fish and squid. However, HAVE NO FEAR – today I’m going to show you a recipe that is super easy and you can make almost anywhere. Most impressively this kimchi even tastes yummy straight away (fresh)and gets increasingly delicious as it further ferments in your fridge, It’s also not super smelly and is OK even in a shared refrigerator. It might be the most potent and traditional recipe – but I think it’s the best recipe because it’s pretty much the easiest and most accessible kimchi making method I’ve ever come across.
- Cabbage prep:
- One whole cabbage (preferably napa cabbage or Chinese cabbage)
- 60ml or ¼ cup salt
- Kimchi paste:
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 75ml hot pepper flakes
- 60ml fish sauce
- 3-4 tablespoons garlic (minced)
- Around 4-5 stalks of chopped green onion
- 1-2 carrots (to taste), grated or cut into long-ish thin slices
- Optional: radishes if available, as above.
- Glass jar or containers for storage
- Cabbage prep - wash cabbage and cut into thin strips – plan into large bowl after straining (doesn’t have to fully strain – leave about 1 cup of water in the container)
- Salt the cabbage in sections, make sure there’s some water (about 1 cup) so it’s not a dry mixture. Set aside for at least 15 minutes.
- In the meantime prepare the kimchi paste by mixing all ingredients in a bowl.
- Wash, rinse and drain the cabbage – there should be loads of water . Rinse so there isn’t a ton of salt left in your kimchi (it will be salty enough with the paste!).
- Dry as thoroughly as you can (you may need to squeeze some water out of the cabbage)
- Mix the paste into the cabbage in sections thoroughly, stuffing it (pressing down) into the container tightly so there isn’t too much oxygen in the jar
Fresh kimchi is delicious so you can have some straight away! Pack the rest in the jar tightly and leave it out for a day of 2 in room temperature to help kickstart the fermentation process – then put it into a fridge or cold storage - use until it’s gone!
Comment below to tell me how yours went!