If you ever wonder which are the most powerful functional ferments to use for Candida, weight loss, allergies, diabetes, cancer, or other conditions, you're in the right place.
Whether you’re looking to increase your energy or eradicate a specific condition such as high blood pressure or IBS, certain functional ferments can get you results quickly and naturally.
You’ll need to use specific fermented foods depending on your desired results. Not all ferments are created equal. While beer or chocolate are fermented, they are not used medicinally.
(Even though you could make an argument for chocolate being medically necessary…It definitely is for me sometimes!)
Below is an overview of functional, powerful fermented foods to use for both nutritional and healing purposes.
TOP 11 FUNCTIONAL FERMENTS IN MY HEALER'S TOOLKIT
First mentioned in a Chinese poem nearly 3,000 years ago, kimchi is one of the world’s first lacto-fermented foods. This traditional Korean dish, made of cabbage and spices, improves the function of the cardiovascular and digestive systems. Its antioxidants help lessen the risk of serious health conditions, such as cancer and diabetes.
Here's my step-by-step video on how to make an easy and delicious Kimchi at home. (Hang around to the 10-minute mark and have a laugh along with us!)
This is the most commonly consumed fermented food. Yogurt directly impacts diet quality, metabolism, and blood pressure. A new study that shows a major correlation between a reduction in diabetes and intake of sugar-free yogurt.
NOTE: When buying yogurt, check that the milk source is either grass-fed goat or sheep and that it’s certified organic. You can also learn to make your own in my Fermented Foods 101 course!
This fermented milk product is high in calcium, magnesium, and vitamins, with a similar taste and texture to that of drinkable yogurt. This sour-flavored fluid is made by adding kefir grains to milk. It boosts immunity, alleviates bowel-related issues, improves digestion, and builds bone density. It’s even linked to killing Candida, a yeast-like parasitic fungus.
Although it’s less popular than yogurt, it is actually higher in probiotics. If you're dairy-free, oconut kefir is a great option that utilizes the fermented juice of young coconuts.
Kombucha is a fermented beverage, composed of black tea and sugar that originated in China about 2,000 years ago. The sugar can come from the sugarcane plant or pasteurized honey.
When the SCOBY (aka Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) is added, the fermentation process begins. Once fermented, the sugary tea transforms into a carbonated, fizzy drink, high in enzymes, probiotics, advantageous acids, small amounts of alcohol, and vinegar.
Studies show that kombucha improves digestion, increases energy, supports immunity, aids weight loss, and provides a full-body detox. Learn more about the pros and cons of Kombucha, in this video or you can read more here.
There are two different kinds of pickles. When you preserve cucumbers in vinegar, you get pickles. But when you soak cucumbers in a salt-water brine, you get probiotic pickles…Yes!
One pickle can contain up to 20 percent of your daily Vitamin K value, a vitamin essential to bone and heart health.
NOTE: Because pickles are commonly processed and come in many forms like relish, dill pickle, sweet pickle, etc., it’s important to look for organic or locally produced pickles to ensure quality. You also want to make sure that they say ‘cultured,’ ‘unpasteurized,’ or ‘lacto-fermented.’
Pickles are one of the most common ferments, and super easy to learn to make yourself! In fact, it's one of the ferments we create together in my Fermentationist® Certification Program.
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage made with salt and often other herbs to enhance the flavor and nutritional content. It's hight in fiber, vitamins, iron, copper, calcium, and magnesium. When you consume sauerkraut it strengthens bones, supports your natural, healthy inflammation response, reduces cholesterol, regulates digestion, fills the gut with much-needed Lactobacillus plantarum (a great probiotic), and assists circulation.
It’s also dairy-free and you can make it ‘wild’ which means you won't need a starter culture! Watch this video where I teach how to start your own probiotic factory right on your kitchen counter!
Idli is a steamed, naturally leavened cake, made from ground rice, urad dal (white lentil), and beans. This gluten-free food is light and digestible, with high levels of calcium, potassium, and iron. Because idli requires steaming, it doesn’t have probiotics; however, its high iron content is crucial to oxygenating the blood.
Unpasteurized vinegar is an extraordinary stimulant. While the majority of vinegar in American grocery stores is a cheap, mass-produced product with absolutely no health benefit, traditional vinegar made with quality alcohols and live cultures possesses many health benefits.
Vinegar is one of the world’s earliest preservatives, and apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a few-thousand-year-old home remedy. Raw vinegar made from the unpasteurized juice of fruits contains all the nutrients and enzymes of the fruit itself. For example, ACV contains all the nutrients of apples; pectin, acetic and malic acids, and B vitamins, to name a few.
All in all, vinegar is a tonic that aids digestion, lowers blood pressure, and relieves stress and fatigue. Additionally, consuming vinegar makes it more difficult for your body to absorb sugars and starches.
Miso is the broth from fermenting soybeans, barley, or rice, and mold. This popular Asian dish has anti-aging properties, strengthens bones, promotes healthy skin, helps lower the risk of cancer, and aids the function of the nervous system.
It is alkalizing and delicious, especially when homemade. For a quick lesson on how to make the best miso you’ve ever tasted, click here.
Traditionally people make this Indonesian cake-like dish from fermenting soybeans with live molds. Because it possesses the same protein qualities as meat, it’s a great option for vegetarians!
It’s high in vitamins, reduces cholesterol, and quickens muscle recovery. Fresh tempeh is more delicious than the stuff you get out of the freezer, however, this is one of the more time-consumptive and difficult ferments to make at home.
This popular Japanese side dish is similar to tempeh and is also made from fermented soybeans. The power of natto lies is in its high levels of vitamin K2, a vitamin that helps deliver calcium appropriately to the body.
It’s common that those who take calcium supplements experience absorption problems. When the bones don't receive K2 properly, calcium deposits in the cardiovascular system which can cause osteoporosis. But with the help of K2, the calcium distributes properly to strengthen bones. Why not choose natto to help?
Natto also contains nattokinase an enzyme used to support cardiovascular health and blood clotting.
RAW CHEESE AND NUT CHEESE
Raw milk does not undergo the pasteurization process that kills many of the beneficial bacteria. Goat, sheep, and A2 cows’ cheeses are particularly high in probiotics and healing digestive tissues. Studies show it relieves depressive symptoms and lifts neurological problems. Only raw and unpasteurized cheeses possess probiotics.
Nut cheeses come from a variety of nuts including almonds, cashews, macadamia, and walnuts. A great substitute for cheese made from animal milk, nut cheese is ideal for those with vegan diets, as well as those who are lactose intolerant.
Though the nutritional value isn’t quite the same as raw cheese, nuts provide high levels of protein and healthy fats. By adding probiotics and fermenting them you get a delicious vehicle for probiotic delivery to the gut.
Sourdough starter is a leaven for making bread. The starter is comprised of both fermented wild yeasts and bacteria. With lower sugar levels than most bread, sourdough helps reduce damaged starches. Because the bacteria and yeasts in sourdough pre-digest the starches, eating it supports gut health and strengthens the bacterial ecosystem, making you less prone to infection.
Eastern Europeans have brewed Kvass for several thousands of years, traditionally by fermenting rye or barley. These days people usually make it with fruits and various root vegetables. Loaded with Lactobacilli probiotics, kvass is known for its ability to cleanse the blood and liver.
You can make this traditional Ethiopian flatbread from a variety of grains, but generally, you make it with teff. Packed with proteins, calcium, and iron, injera serves to build strength and aid in recovery after illness. Head over here, and I’ll show you how to make it.
OTHER FUNCTIONAL FERMENTS
Keep in mind that you can also ferment many foods not listed here that can serve you medicinally if done appropriately. Some of these include pumpkin, hot sauces, salsas, daikon, dilly beans, olives, and mushrooms.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN BATCHES OF POWERFUL FUNCTIONAL FERMENTS
Get started with my free guide to make a delicious batch of fermented okra. This colorful guide will have you on your way to a delicious and potent ferment in 30 minutes or less. Best of all, they're way better than any store-bought pickles for probiotic benefit. Get your guide here.
If you're ready to harness the healing power of functional ferments in a bigger way, I'd love to talk to you about becoming a certified Fermentationist®. Complete this short questionnaire to get the conversation started.
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