Fermentation: defined as the process of breaking a substance down into a simpler form, such as converting sugar into carbon dioxide with the help of yeast enzymes. It sounds strange, but fermented foods may not be such a gas. This process can help the body digest certain foods that an individual might have had troubles with before. If you’re an athlete who commonly suffers from tummy troubles on race day, this could mean gut glory.
Fermented foods can not only aid in digestion but can help add beneficial bacteria to the digestive tract, are low in calories and rich in nutrients — and that makes us healthier all around. Try to stay on course with these common fermented foods:
Kefir is a fermented milk product. But it’s not your typical glass of milk, because much of the lactose has already been broken down. Kefir provides high quality, muscle-building protein as well as calcium and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, D and K2. You can add this creamy milk to fruit smoothies for an easier-to-digest post-workout recovery drink.
Kim-chi is a fermented cabbage that is very popular in the Korean culture. Mostly, you’ll see kim-chi made with radishes or cucumbers. Sauerkraut is another popular cabbage concoction, but it’s historically associated with German cuisine. Both of these distinctive veggie dishes provide ample fiber and vitamin C. The next time you want a side of slaw with your BBQ, give one of these fermented varieties a go instead.
Kombucha is fermented black tea. It has recently increased in popularity to the point that some people even grow their own. I say go for it, because you can easily harvest kombucha with the right mix of bacteria and yeast. Of course, buying it pre-made and mixed with other antioxidant-rich teas is easy, too. No matter have you take your tea, the right mix of kombucha can balance the belly and help you re-hydrate.
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time IronDistance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. ‘Like’ them on Facebook or follow on Twitter: Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and Amy @AmyCMarsh.