An ongoing discussion of fermented foods and their health benefits has been underway. The common misconception is that fermented foods are decaying foods. There are several healthy fermented foods that contain helpful vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to assist in weight loss and aid in overall health.
What are Fermented Foods?
Foods that have been fermented have undergone a lacto-fermentation process during which particular strains of bacteria eat sugar and starches in the food and discharge lactic acid.
Fermentation not only acts as a natural way to preserve food, but it also breaks food down and creates Omega-3 fatty acids, enzymes, B Vitamins, and several different strains of probiotics.
History of Fermented Foods
Fermented food has been used to create good health for several centuries. Before probiotics, cultures used these foods to help with digestion and stomach-based illnesses.
The art of fermenting food can be found as early as 6000 B.C. Cultures such as the Korean culture and Indian culture both have a long history of fermented fruits, vegetables, and especially dairy foods.
Areas such as Africa have used fermentation as a way to safely preserve food against the harsh conditions of the area. West African provinces and countries ferment afoot known as garri which is used to treat illnesses and work as a natural daily vitamin to prevent diseases.
One of the oldest cultures to use this technique is are the Asian civilizations. These cultures ferment a lot of foods including beans, fish, and vegetables.
More recently, scientists and archeologists have discovered that this process may go back much farther than anticipated and was an important part of ancient Chinese and Ottoman cultures.
The Science Behind Fermented Foods
When digested, fermented foods introduce a wealth of probiotics into the body. Probiotics are necessary for a healthy digestive system and can impact the overall immune system.
Strains of probiotics are responsible for attacking dangerous pathogens in the intestines and for strengthening the already present healthy bacteria. Other strains create healthy enzymes in the stomach helping the food to process better and less stomach acid to be unnecessarily introduced into the intestines.
Probiotics are also one of the contributing factors to healthy white blood and red blood cells.
Fermented foods are a natural probiotic that has been created by the foods themselves and not synthesized inside of a laboratory. Doctors and scientists are attesting more and more to how several gastrointestinal diseases are the cause of poor probiotics health.
While probiotics can easily be purchased at your local pharmacy, they tend to have adverse side-effects due to their synthetic nature. Eating fermented foods offer an advantage in that the chemical production of probiotics is a completely natural process and is made by the same bacteria that is found in foods we regularly eat.
The body is able to fully process these foods and absorb the probiotics whereas this does not always occur with the synthesized form.
Nutritional Facts of Fermented Foods
As previously discussed, the body can fully absorb and use the bacteria and probiotics in fermented foods much easier than other probiotic forms.
Fermented foods contain a great deal of other nutritional facts that all contribute to a healthy immune and digestive system.
Extra Vitamins and Minerals
Since much of what we eat nowadays is processed, it lacks important vitamins and minerals which the body is constantly seeking. Fermentation creates extra vitamins and minerals that the body is all too happy to store and use when needed.
Healthy Immune System
When the gut is healthy, the entire body is healthy and that includes the immune system. Proper gut health is created by enough good bacteria, one of the byproducts of fermented foods.
While fermented foods consistently fill the body with good bacteria, it is able to process foods more efficiently leaving time and attention for the white and red blood cells to function as they should. This builds a healthier immune system and prevents diseases and illnesses that can form inside of the gut.
Removing Bad Acid
Fermentation has also been found to help the body absorb what it should and expel rather than hold on to what is not needed.
Phytic acid binds together with zinc and iron and prevents the body from fully absorbing these vital nutrients and minerals. The chemical productions of fermented food counteract phytic acid, breaking it down and reinstating proper absorption.
Assisting in Mental Health and Behavior
A healthy body promotes a healthy brain and healthy emotions. Since fermented foods have so many positive effects on the body, and especially on the health of the gut and digestive system, they also contribute to overall mental and emotional health.
How to Eat More Healthy Fermented Foods
Adding more healthy, fermented foods into your daily diet can be simple and tasty. Because it is a fully natural process, you can even make your own fermented foods at home saving you time shopping for and money on groceries.
From the pages of Dr. Axe: 10 Healthiest Fermented Foods & Vegetables
Probiotics, Pickles and Rotten Foods
A helpful article by Dr. David Williams: Gut Health and the Benefits of Traditional Fermented Foods
Fermented Dairy Products
Yogurt, Buttermilk, and especially Kefir are excellent fermented dairy products which have thousands of live cultures and healthy bacteria. Kefir has been used in Turkish cultures to treat digestive diseases and create regularity in bowel movements. Yogurts and buttermilk function much the same.
You can purchase these at your local grocery store, but be aware that not all of these products are made through the natural fermentation process. Be sure to read the label to be sure or purchase from an organic location. You can also make these on your own at home, and they do not require extensive purchasing of products or tools.
The process of pickling is similar to if not exactly the same as fermentation. Pickled foods can be purchased or made at home.
While the settlers were crossing through America, fermented pickles were an important part of everyone’s diet as they boosted the immune system, prevented diseases, and were also delicious and filling.
Pickled vegetables provide an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Sauerkraut and Kimchi
Sauerkraut has been used for centuries and dates back to a Nordic culture whereas Kimchi comes from the Korean culture and is just as old. Adding a little of both of these to daily main meals has been shown to have significant positive effects on daily digestion.
Both recipes can also be made easily at home and can be consumed as a simple snack. As they are both vegetables, consuming them also counts towards your daily vegetable intake.
As the popularity of eating healthy and finding natural ways to encourage bodily health from the inside out continues to grow, scientists and doctors are turning to the benefits of fermented foods.
Healthy fermented foods help promote digestive health while flooding the body with important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Best of all healthy fermented foods can easily be made at home to save you money.
Implementing fermented foods into your diet is an easy process and with so many health and economic benefits, is one that you should start implementing today.
Let us know if you have tried any other fermented foods and how it is working for you. Our readers all are looking for information on the benefits of consuming fermented foods.