Fermented Food - What are the benefits?

We blogged recently about how to ensure that you stay strong and healthy by looking after your gut. Maintaining a healthy gut is one of the best ways to ensure good health and a good digestive system.

But what part do fermented foods play?

Fermenting has been popular across cultures for centuries, it was a technique used to preserve food and drink before the days of refrigeration. But it’s making a comeback as one of the best providers of good bacteria for good gut health.

During the process of fermentation, the microorganisms found in food and drink such as bacteria, fungi or yeast convert organic compounds such as sugar and starch into alcohol or acids. For example if you were to ferment vegetables or fruit then the sugar and starch found in those items would be converted in to lactic acid.

Lactic acid not only preserves the food but also creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.

It’s also thought that the fermentation process breaks the food down so that the body digests it easier, this could very well explain the link between eating fermented foods and improved digestion.

So what are the top 5 benefits to eating fermented food?

Probiotics.

Consuming fermented food and drink such as kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir will introduce the good bacteria into your digestive system. By consuming probiotic-rich foods, you are supporting the mucosa (gut lining) as a natural barrier, making the immune system more robust. A lack of beneficial bacteria allows disease causing microbes to grow causing inflammation in the gut wall.

If you have recently taken a course of antibiotics, probiotic foods are particularly helpful.

Making sure that you have a good intake of probiotics can improve immunity, aid digestion and even reverse some diseases.

It’ll help you absorb food - better.

Making sure that your gut is properly balanced and that you have enough digestive enzymes will help you absorb more of the nutrients that can be found within the food that you’re eating. If you’re getting enough vitamins, minerals and nutrients from your food then you’ll feel a lot healthier and find that you have less bouts of illness.

It’s good for your budget.

It may seem like the foods that are supposed to be the healthiest for us are often the most expensive. But you can make your own fermented foods for very little cost.

For example you can make foods such as sauerkraut with just a kilner jar, cabbage, salt and water.
Not to mention that adding these things into your diet can also reduce the amount of money you need to spend on supplements.

They can improve your mood and performance.

The brain and the gut are linked via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Our gut is lined with neurons which can influence our emotions and feelings.

For example, Serotonin which improves your mood is made in the gut.

So a healthy gut means a healthy mind.

Which fermented foods should you include in your diet?

Kefir - this is a probiotic cultured drink that contains multiple strains of bacteria and yeast. Kefir is rich in B vitamins and vitamin K.

Miso - this is a traditional Japanese paste made from fermented soybeans and grains which contain millions of beneficial bacteria. It’s a good source of vitamin B, K, E and folic acid.

Kimchi - this is the spicy brother of sauerkraut and is a mix of fermented cabbage and other vegetables. It has plenty of vitamin A, B1, B2, C, iron, calcium and selenium.

Kombucha - is a fermented black tea produced by using a 'colony' of bacteria and yeast known as a SCOBY. It can help aid digestion, ensure good sleep, help with weight loss, stimulate the immune system and improve liver function.

Do you enjoy fermented food?  Share your stories with us in the comment section below...