We commonly associate healthy food with the freshest farm-to-table ingredients but the latest wellness trend is purporting the opposite – fermented foods. Nutrition experts and health junkies alike are flooding the net with pictures and recipes of these probiotic powerhouses. Read on to find out what exactly fermented food is and why the sudden craze to consume them.
What is Fermentation?
When a food is fermented, it means that it is left to sit and steep while natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food, creating lactic acid. Along with a bevy of gut healing probiotics, this process actually preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins and even Omega-3 fatty acids.
Top Benefits of Fermented Foods
- Heal the Gut – promote the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract, which can help heal leaky gut and irritable bowel syndrome
- Improve Digestion – preserve nutrients in food and break food down to a more digestible form
- Boost Immunity – increase antibodies that fight infectious diseases and help inhibit pathogenic organisms like E.coli, salmonella and candida
- Assist Weight Loss – regulate the appetite and reduce sugar and refined carb cravings
Incorporating Fermented Foods into Your Diet
To receive the health benefits of fermented foods, you don’t need to make an entire meal of them. A little goes a long way. Here are some ideas on how to start introducing them into your diet:
- Replace regular bread with a fresh sourdough variety.
- Replace regular milk with kefir and yogurt.
- Replace regular fizzy drinks with kombucha.
- Have a small serving of fermented vegetables at the start of your meal. This can include pickles, sauerkraut, salsa, umeboshi plums and kimchi.
- Use miso as a soup base or marinade.
- Use naturally fermented condiments or make your own, examples include: soy sauce, fermented mayonnaise and fermented ketchup
Common Everyday Fermented Foods
Raw, unpasteurised yogurt is ideal if you can handle dairy. Yogurt that contains sugar is counterproductive however, as sugars feed pathogenic bacteria and contribute to sugar overload.
Natto is prepared with soybeans and is an excellent source of calcium, iron, dietary fibre, and vitamin K2. K2 is essential for heart health as it keeps calcium out of your arteries and gets it to your bones where it’s needed.
Researchers report kefir may reduce irritation in the intestines, preventing toxins and other pathogens from getting into the blood. If you’re choosing to drink dairy kefir, make sure it’s organic and isn’t loaded with refined sugar.
Made from tea, clean water, sugar, yeast, and bacteria, its fizzy bite is popular among those used to drinking soda. Research finds this fermented tea fights off E. coli and Staph bacteria in the digestive tract, possibly protecting against illness and aiding digestion.
The sour taste of sauerkraut comes from lacto-fermentation, or the breakdown of lactose by the probiotic bacteria native to the cabbage. A serving gives you a powerful dose of healthy probiotics that aid digestion.
This spicy Asian fermented cabbage, similar to sauerkraut, provides you with loads of probiotics. Extensive research indicates it contributes to colon health, lower cholesterol, better thinking, a stronger immune system, and healthy skin.
This Indonesian ‘cake’ has a nutty flavor and chewy texture, and because of this, it is often used as a replacement for meat in many vegan recipes. Traditionally made from soybeans and a yeast starter, it is a great source of probiotic bacteria.
Did You Know?
Among the food and substances that reduce good intestinal bacteria are: antibiotics, commercial meats containing antibiotic residues, chlorinated water, alcoholic beverages and a diet high in packaged and processed foods.