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Fermented foods

List of anti-inflammatory fermented foods

Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been consumed for centuries to treat many illnesses including inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. The theory is that as a fermented product it helps to regulate the digestive system, of which good health is necessary for the whole body to remain healthy. Indeed one of its benefits is to reduce indigestion and heartburn, and ease a bloated stomach. Take two or three tablespoons diluted in a small glass of water each morning before breakfast. When buying apple cider vinegar, choose raw and organic varieties and only those stored in glass bottles.

Kefir and yoghurt
Kefir is a fermented product, similar to drinking yoghurt, which originates from the Northern Caucasus Mountains. It is said to help to regulate the digestive system by providing billions of probiotic bacteria, which many believe is crucial to reducing inflammation in the body. Kefir grains are live organisations similar to yeast. The kefir drink is made from live kefir grains and the milk of goats, sheep or cows. You don’t just have to drink kefir. Pour it on your breakfast cereals, add fresh fruit to make a delicious smoothie, stir it into soups and sauces, or use it to make sourdough bread.

Miso is fermented soya bean paste that is most widely used as an ingredient to spice up soup, as a marinade for fish and meat, or mixed into a salad dressing. Its anti-inflammatory benefits derive from two pathways. Firstly as a fermented product it can help provide the micro-organisations needed for a healthy digestive system and the efficient breakdown of foods that allows the body to absorb vitamins and minerals. Secondly the phytoestrogens and mega-3 found in soya itself are said to have anti-inflammatory effects. (1). Chef’s tip: The healthy compounds found in miso are susceptible to heat therefore add it to soups off the heat and do not boil.
(1) Wu SH, Shu XO, Chow WH, et al. (2012) Soy Reduces Inflammation, Washington, www.prcm.org. Also available at http://www.pcrm.org/health/medNews/soy-reduces-inflammation

Whilst it might be just fermented cabbage to some, sauerkraut is a superfood for those following the anti-inflammatory diet. The health benefits, such as anti-carcinogenic properties, of cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage are well documented but the fermentation process adds even more nutrients. There is one proviso. It has to be raw (or lacto-fermented) sauerkraut that is prepared without using heat, thereby ensuring that the vitamins (significantly A, C and K) and minerals (notably iron) are preserved, and intestinal flora are created. Sauerkraut’s main anti-inflammatory benefit stems from its anti-oxidants and phytonutrients, which can reduce pain in the joints.