Feeling BeautifulEven though fermented foods aren’t as common in our modern diet, foods like kefir and yogurt were quite common in the diets of indigenous people from around the world. Fermentation is a simple and conventient way to preserve certain foods, and it also has health benefits that the body can gain when the foods are eaten body. Whether you’re pregnant or not, it is a good idea to include some fermented foods in your diet every day. If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, it is especially important that you include fermented foods in your snacks and meals for a few reasons:

Enzymes from Fermented Foods

When foods go through the fermentation process it is similar to cooking, but it has a different end result. Cooked foods release a few nutrients, but vital enzymes are also lost in the process because these enzymes are quite fragile. On the other hand, the fermentation process allows you to get rid of certain harmful bacteria in foods (similar to cooking), and the foods last longer because they are preserved more thoroughly. The benefit to the fermentation process is that enzymes are not lost. These enzymes are important for assisting the digestive process and helping the body absorb certain nutrients. Consuming fermented foods during pregnancy actually can help your body to process other foods more easily, which results in better nutritional absorption for yourself and your growing baby.

Healthy Bacteria and Fermentation

Usually, the fermentation process is started by adding specific healthy bacteria to the foods that are being fermented. For instance, making kefir starts with regular milk with an add in of “grains” of colonies of healthy bacteria. These bacteria work in the milk to complete the fermentation process, and when they are consumed they help with the digesting of the foods because the healthy bacteria reside in your gut. These healthy bacteria actually balance the ecosystem in your body, which means that you can more easily process foods and regulate the digestive system.

It is becoming more common to hear more about healthy bacteria in yogurt. In fact, many food processing companies have discovered that people are interested in the health benefits of probiotic foods, and the comapnies have started adding more probiotics to their products. The problem is that these commerical yogurts and other foods are also loaded with unhealthy sugars, artificial ingredients, and preservatives!

Don’t buy commercially produced yogurts, instead you should consider consider choosing raw, organic kefir or the highest-quality yogurt that is free of those unhealthy added ingredients. In fact, it is possible to purchase kefir grains, and make your own kefir at home with organic milk. The process is very easy, consider the fact that fermentation has been around for thousands of years!

Eating Fermented Foods During Pregnancy

When you are pregnant, it is especially important to consume fermented foods for a few reasons. To start out, the fermented foods allow your body to absorb higher levels of nutrition, which means that it’s more likely to get yourself and the baby the nutrients that are needed for health. Another benefit to fermented foods is that they help with digestion, since it often slows down during pregnancy because of increased progesterone levels. When these hormone levels change, problems can occur such as constipation. But, the healthy bacteria and enzymes in fermented foods can actually keep things moving in your digestive system, which promotes a healthy digestive tract that isn’t prone to the pain or discomfort associated with constipation.

If you’re curious about other foods should be eaten during pregnancy, read the book Healing Our Children. This book talks about how nutrition affects your body and your baby in all stages of pregnancy: pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, and during lactation after pregnancy.

Photo Credit: benklocek from Flickr