What Are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods are simply foods that have undergone fermentation or lacto-fermentation, a processes that has been used for centuries to preserve foods. Fermented foods are exposed to beneficial bacteria or yeasts either through inoculation or in the air. Lacto-fermentation is the process of fermentation using lactobacillus bacteria. Despite what its name implies, it does not have to be used only on dairy products. Regardless of what bacteria are used, they will feed on the starches and sugars in the food creating lactic acid. (Foods that have undergone lacto-fermentation will have a more acidic taste than those that have been fermented using other bacteria.) Not only do these processes preserve foods, but they create several B vitamins, enzymes, different strains of probiotics, and omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for your health.
Examples of Fermented Foods:
Meats: Salami, chorizo sausage, fish sauce
Fruits and Vegetables: Sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, wine, pickles, kimchi,
Grains: Rejuvelac, sourdough bread, beer
Dairy: Yogurt, cheese, kefir
Kombucha: This is a fizzy tea. Drinking one bottle of kombucha exposes you to between four and seven microorganisms at once, which helps strengthen your stomach’s ability to withstand toxins.
This is just a small look at foods that can be fermented. There are tons more. If you are at a loss for ideas, there are thousands of recipes you can try on the internet that rely completely on fermented foods.
A Look at the Health Benefits Associated With Fermented Foods:
There are many advantages linked to incorporating fermented foods into your diet. The following offers just a small look at the innumerable benefits.
- Fermented foods are filled with natural probiotics that are crucial for the health of your immune system and have the ability to rid your body of a wide array of toxins and heavy metals.
- Fermented foods are considered beneficial for babies and have been shown to lower their risk of suffering an adverse reaction to vaccines.
- Studies have shown that drinking milk fermented with Lactobacillus can help you lose weight. In a twelve week study, participants saw a 3.3 percent decrease in subcutaneous fat and a 4.6 percent reduction in abdominal fat. In addition, waist size declined by 1.8 percent, while overall body weight decreased by 1.4 percent.
- The additional lactic acid makes it easier to digest food, while also increasing the amount of vitamin A and vitamin C levels in the body. Vitamin A is important for immune system health, proper bone growth, healthy vision, and helps the mucous membranes and skin repel viruses and bacteria more effectively. Vitamin C provides protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, eye diseases, and even plays a part in preventing facial wrinkles.
- Fermented foods help balance the production of stomach acid and bacteria in your stomach. When you have the proper balance of stomach bacteria, you are better able to absorb the nutrients in the food you eat. It also contributes to the growth of healthy flora in the intestine.
- Improved digestive health can improve your energy levels, as well as help enhance the look of your skin, particularly on your face.
- There is a significant connection between the stomach and brain health. Fermented foods can improve brain health. Research published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology has shown that eating fermented foods can alleviate anxiety and depression.
- Pastes that are made from fermented grains and soybeans are full of essential minerals, such as potassium, and millions of microorganisms that assist stamina and strength.
- Fermented foods have high amounts of vitamin K2. Multiple studies have found that vitamin K2 may decrease a male’s chances of developing prostate cancer.
Are There Any Negatives Associated With Eating Fermented Foods?
One negative aspect of fermented foods is the quantity of alcohol and ammonia they may contain. When bacteria breaks down during the fermentation process, it produces byproducts including alcohol, which can affect your body’s cells, as well as ammonia. Fermented soy products may include as much as 15 percent ammonia. In addition, some fermented foods may contain high levels of salt, so if you are on a low sodium diet, you will want to pay special attention to this.
If you are trying to adhere to a healthy eating routine, you will likely benefit from adding fermented foods to your diet.
Interested in learning more about fermented foods? The following book is a great resource!
This article from Healthy Ambition offers great insights as well