What Are The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods are some of the healthiest foods you can add to your diet. They include any food that’s been cultured by healthy bacteria and other microorganisms. For example, yogurt, kombucha, and kimchi are all fermented foods.
But what makes these foods so great?
What Are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods are foods that go through a process of lacto-fermentation, where natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food, creating lactic acid.
This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes such as, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.
The natural fermentation of foods has also been shown to preserve nutrients in food, and breaking the food down to a more digestible form for your body. The probiotics that are created during the fermentation process contain a link between consumption of fermented foods and very improved digestive system.
Cultures around the world have been eating fermented foods for years, from Sauerkraut in Germany, to Kimichi in Korea, pickles from your Grandma, and everywhere in between.
Studies have shown that there is a the link between eating probiotic rich foods and overall health. Unfortunately, the advances in processed food technology and preparation, these time-honored, traditional foods have been largely lost to our modern society.
Some of the important health benefits of fermentation:
- Fermentation is the only type of food preparation (other than juicing) that will not destroy certain essential nutrients, it will actually create more nutrients while enhancing others.
- It removes many of the toxins and harmful bacteria found in many foods.
- It will improve your digestion, especially when consumed before your meal, since it also allows for nutrients to be absorbed properly in your body.
- It aids in the preservation and creation of important enzymes.
- Food fermentation supports your bodies immune functions. It increases B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, lactase and lactic acid that help fight off harmful bacteria.
Fermented foods add healthy bacteria to your gut.
We spend a lot of time trying to fight bacteria with antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers, and drugs. But not all bacteria are bad for the body. When you kill of the unhealthy bacteria you also kill off the bacteria that are beneficial for you.
When you eat fermented foods you’re working to restore the healthy bacteria in your gut. Bacteria are what help you to break down food so that you can digest the nutrients in it. The use of antibiotics, eating a poor diet, stress, and other factors can cause you not to have enough of these bacteria.
You can improve your digestion.
If you’ve struggled with problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and had to cope with alternating constipation and diarrhea, fermented foods could be the answer. Eating a diet high in fermented foods can help you to stay more regular and relieve indigestion symptoms.
Fermented foods help you to fight illness.
A huge portion of your immune system actually lies within your gut. When you eat foods that restore healthy bacteria, it improves your immunity. You’ll be able to fight common illnesses such as colds and the flu. It can also help you to have relief from allergies, asthma, and other illnesses.
Lactic acid bacteria enhance gastrointestinal and systemic immunity, thus keeping us healthier and better able to fight infection. If you want to understand fermented foods better, read the studies about lactic acid bacteria and its role in human immunology.
It is interesting to learn how the ways beneficial bacteria benefit us: they recognize foreign substances in the body and work with our immune cells to destroy foreign substances, they stimulate mucus secretions in the gut, while boosting your antibodies, they help white blood cells fight infections, and they even help to suppress cancer cells and tumors.
Fermented foods are higher in nutritional content.
Foods that have been fermented often have higher levels of vitamins and enzymes. This means that you actually get more nutrition from the fermented version than you do raw or cooked versions that aren’t fermented. Many people are vitamin deficient and eating fermented foods can reverse that problem.
We all know fresh vegetables are a treasure trove of vitamins and minerals necessary for our health. With the fermentation process, the beneficial bacteria create enzymes and additional vitamins, which makes them even healthier than they were in their raw state.
Enhanced vitamins, such as the increased Vitamin C in sauerkraut, suggest that fermented foods play an extremely important role in your health and building your immunity to help your body resist everything from the common cold to cancer!
Fermented foods taste great!
Many people enjoy the tangy flavor that the fermentation process adds to foods. You may already appreciate foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, and yogurt. These are all foods that are made through a fermentation process. They’re not as foreign as you might think.
They can take a fairly bland foods such as milk, cucumbers, and cabbage and turn them into tangy, tasty treats. And the good news is that while you enjoy the great flavor, you’ll be adding health benefits to your body.
FERMENTED FOODS ENCOURAGE BETTER DENTAL HEALTH
Cavities, gingivitis, periodontitis, and halitosis, aka., bad breath, are all caused by the proliferation of harmful bacteria in our mouths. By eating fermented foods rich in lactic acid bacteria along with other beneficial bacteria, we keep these in check and provide a healthy and balanced oral environment.
How to Incorporate More Fermented Foods into Your Diet
Start by switching from those pasteurized, vinegar-brined condiments to the live, fermented versions of pickles, sauerkraut, salsa, ketchup, sour cream, kimchi, and yogurt.
You can also drink 2 to 3 ounces of fermented beverages every couple of days – start slow. Healthy beverages such as Kombucha, kvass, and unpasteurized kefir are readily available at many health food stores.
Many foods can be fermented, cultured, or cured to help increase its nutritional value and to enable it to be preserved it for months.
So spend some time and learn how to make your own fermented foods and condiments, that encourage healthy bacteria to grow.