There have been countless studies that have shown a link between fermented foods and overall health, so what exactly are fermented foods?
Food fermentation is a process by which natural bacteria feed on sugar and starch to create lactic acid, which helps to acidify the digestive tract making it easier for healthy bacteria to grow. This process is called lactofermentation.
Why are fermented foods beneficial?
With newer research shedding light on the major importance of our gut’s microbiome and the extensive variety of bacteria that exists in it – impacting everything from the foods we eat to our mood – eating fermented foods and drink help to introduce the good kind of bacteria we want into our digestive system, helping to balance out the good and bad bacteria in our gut. This balance in turn helps us absorb more nutrients from the foods we eat, reducing our reliance on supplements and vitamins and naturally boosting our immunity.
Fermented foods not only help to preserve nutrients, but they produce a multitude of probiotics and beneficial enzymes, balancing the production of stomach acid (increasing acid when its production is low and protecting the stomach lining when it’s high) and relieving digestive discomfort. Helping to break foods down and make them more easily digestible, fermented foods have been known to also increase bowel movement as well as block the growth of pathogenic bacteria that are sensitive to acidic environments. They also create b-vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids.
As if this list of benefits couldn’t get any better, fermented foods are also said to keep your appetite in check while cutting your cravings for sugars and refined carbs.
What are examples of fermented foods and drinks?
Fermented foods include sauerkraut (something as simple as cabbage, water and salt), kimchi (sauerkraut’s Korean relative), pickled vegetables, tempeh (fermented soybean high in protein suitable for vegetarians) and live culture yogurts. Drinks include kefir (fermented milk products) and kambucha (fermented beverage of black tea and sugar).
When I first heard of Kambucha, I was skeptical of drinking it because of the sugar. However, fermentation with sugar is not the same as drinking straight sugar. According to Dr. Axe, drinking Kambucha every day “improves digestion, helps with weight loss, increases energy, detoxes the body, supports the immune system, reduces joint pain and prevents cancer.”
If you suffer from digestive problems, which, let’s be honest, so many of us do – it is basically impossible to resolve the issue without improving the situation in your microbiome and finding that balance between the good and not so good bacteria in your digestive system. Not only are fermented foods the best natural way to tackle this, but they are also delicious to eat! I swear I add sauerkraut to most of my meals and drinking Kambucha totally satisfies my sweet tooth. Win/win, right? So, what are you waiting for? Go get your ferment on!