Fermented Foods: The Key to Boosting your Immunity This Winter
Although we spend most of our summer concentrating on working out to achieve that perfect bikini body, being so health-conscious tends to fall by the wayside during the winter months. Although keeping up with your fitness regime in the colder months is important, it is just as important to think about our overall well being too. When thinking about overall fitness for the coming months, a great place to start is to think of boosting your immunity. One amazing way to do this is by eating fermented foods.
Many people are keen to take care of themselves. They eat well and workout and aim to look good. This is more so the case in the summer months. Let’s face it, getting out for a run in the sun isn’t so hard.
However, during the winter it tends to be less appealing to pound the pavement in a snowstorm and if your immunity is low, cold and flu become all too familiar friends. This also is more likely to have you snuggle up with Netflix than meet your weekly workout needs.
One thing that even the most fitness-conscious of people tend to forget about is their immune system. Finding ways to boost it could help keep you fit and healthy.
Probiotics and Immunity
Most people don’t tend to think of their immune system as being within a particular location.
But here’s the shocker:
Your immune system is actually located within your gut. I know right, who’d have thought it?
One thing that is really important to maintaining your gut health (and therefore your immunity) is probiotics.
Most people have heard of probiotics, even if they aren’t sure what they are. We’ve all seen the little bottles in the supermarket right?
I know, who’d have ever considered bacteria as “good”?
Ideally, within your gut you should have a balance of 85% good bacteria and 5% bad bacteria. Maintaining this balance will keep good gut flora and optimum health(1).
Many people do not realize that many chronic conditions are caused by a lack of good bacteria in the gut, leading to poor immunity which in turn leaves you susceptible to illness.
Nevertheless, the truth is that most of us do not get enough probiotic-rich foods, which has a negative impact on both your health and physical fitness. One of the best ways to increase your probiotic intake is with fermented foods.
What Are Fermented Foods?
People have been fermenting foods for thousands of years(2).
Before refrigerators were a standard household appliance, people fermented foods for most of the year. They would use fresh vegetables when they were in season and then ferment large batches to have throughout the year.
Fermented foods are probably the richest probiotic food you can eat. Furthermore, they are packed with flavor and last a very long time. Also, the best part is that you can do it easily at home.
There are a number of famous fermented food including:
- Dill Pickles
You can find many recipes for different fermented foods across the internet and the National Center for Home Food Preservation(3) can tell you everything you need to know on how to ferment foods safely from preparation to storage.
Fermented Food Ideas For Beginners
For anyone new to fermenting foods, the best way to start is with a simple mix of vegetables you know you like. Although foods like kimchi can be aromatic and packed with oriental flavors, it can be quite dramatic for a first timer.
Choose four or five of your favorite firm vegetables. Keep in mind things like tomatoes will just disintegrate. Try vegetables like:
- Brussels Sprouts
Chop or grate your veggies into a large, sealable glass container and add some of your favorite herbs and spices, think garlic, basil leaves and so on. Then cover with salt water (sea salt works best) and seal up.
Usually 14-21 days is sufficient to leave your vegetables (in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight) and you have a delicious accompaniment full of goodness.
Why not even try some fermented foods with boiled potatoes and fish for a healthy, nutritious meal?
If you try fermented foods, comment below and let us know how it turned out. Or even leave your recipe for others to try.
About the Author
Jenny Abouobaia is a certified personal trainer and founder of Jenny Abouobaia Fitness. Jenny found her love of fitness through dance from a young age and developed a successful career as a professional international dancer and choreographer. After retiring from the stage, Jenny wanted to further her professional development by qualifying as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, and dance teacher. She combined her love of fitness with her love of writing and has written thousands of articles for high authority sites in the health, fitness and nutrition niche.