In this article you will get the sense of why fermentation is important and why fermented foods are so good for us. This is not my opinion, fermentation is an ancient technique of preserving food, so the use and health benefits are well-documented. I will provide you with many useful links to papers and podcasts that goes in-dept on this topic, so you can investigate further.
This article is meant as a small guidance toward higher awareness around the topic of fermented foods and importance of gut health. Ever since I started implementing these types of foods into my diet I’ve felt better, both in terms of digestion and immunity. So, I hope you also will find these tips helpful in your overall health and well-being.
Fermentation is a process that involves bacteria and yeast breaking down sugars. This is a natural process through which microorganisms like yeast and bacteria convert carbs, such as starch and sugar, into alcohol or acids. The alcohol or acids act as a natural preservative and give fermented foods a distinct zest and tartness. The fermentation process promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, which is found in your gut.
The benefits from fermented foods have been associated with a range of health benefits — from better digestion to stronger immunity. Many regular foods we consume are produced in this way wine, beer, cheese, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha.
Kombucha Starter Culture
There are many reasons why fermented foods are good for you. It’s been associated with several positive health effects, like increasing microbiome diversity and decreasing markers of inflammation. The probiotics produced during fermentation can help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in your gut and may alleviate some digestive problems.
An example is lactose – the natural sugar in milk. This is broken down during fermentation into simpler sugars; glucose and galactose. As a result, fermented foods like kefir and yoghurt, are easier to digest than their unfermented counterparts.
Many fermented foods are also rich in vitamin C, iron, and zinc, all of which are proven to contribute to a stronger immune system. Meaning, fermented foods can give your immune system a boost and reduce your risk of infections.
A fermented favorite: Sauerkraut
Most fermented products, if you make them yourself or read the label carefully if store-bought (so you don’t consume a lot of hidden sugar for instance), will be very good for you. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha and fermented dairy products like kefir and yoghurt will, if eaten regularly, be of great benefit for your gut health and immunity.
To spice things up, try also adding miso – a common seasoning made from fermented soybeans from Japanese cuisine. Or kimchi – the popular Korean side dish made from fermented vegetables, such as cabbage or radishes.
Fermented foods increases microbiome diversity, and to really optimize for that, it’s valuable to vary the fermented foods you consume. For instance, if you’ve been drinking a lot of kombucha lately, maybe try switching it up with some sauerkraut or maybe a small amount of kefir in your smoothie. This can also decrease the chance of some side effects from fermentation.
Fermented foods may cause some side effects, such as bloating, especially after consuming fiber-rich fermented foods, like kimchi and sauerkraut. If you haven’t tried fermented foods before, it’s recommended to start with one deciliter per day first, and then increase slowly to two deciliters. It’s also a good tip to vary the selection of fermented foods you choose.
Also, if you can make fermented foods yourself, that’s the absolute best. Store-bought products may contain high levels of added sugar, salt, and fat, so it’s important to read nutrition labels to make sure you’re making a healthy choice. But make sure you follow recipes closely when fermenting at home. You might cause food to spoil due to incorrect temperatures or, and it can make the food unsafe to eat.