The consumption of foods and drinks that have undergone fermentation contain benefits to health that stretch beyond food preservation. Fermented foods are chock-full of probiotics, or good bacteria. A myriad of research has demonstrated how the ideal balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut forms the foundation for physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
- Healthy Gut– Our gut is filled with good and bad bacteria, maintaining the right balance of gut bacteria is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. Modern diets are high in refined sugar, which can cause bad bacteria to form in the gut. When the balance is shifted in favor of the bad bacteria, symptoms may arise such as bloating, constipation or diarrhea. Eliminating refined, high sugar foods and including probiotic-rich fermented foods is thought to bring the gut back into balance. (1)
- Helps Absorb Food Better– Having the proper balance of gut bacteria and enough digestive enzymes helps you absorb more of the nutrients in the foods you eat. Pair this with your healthy real food diet, and you will absorb many more nutrients from the foods you eat. You won’t need as many supplements and vitamins, and you’ll be absorbing more of the live nutrients in your foods. (2)
- Boosts Immune System– An estimated 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut, and a robust immune system is your top defense system against all disease. (3) Fermented foods boost the immune system by increasing antibodies that fight infectious disease. (4)
- Digestive Health– Fermented foods are also good for people with diabetes, as the carbohydrates in lactic-acid fermented foods have been pre-digested. This way, there is less of a burden on the pancreas. People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease can benefit from eating fermented foods. Many clinical trials have found that probiotics reduce abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and flatulence in patients with IBS, including Crohn’s disease (5).
Fermented Foods to Include in Your Diet
Some Fermented foods to include in your diet are tempeh (fermented soybean), sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha (fermented tea), and the most common one, yogurt.
When it comes to yogurt, however, it’s important to know how to pick the right yogurt. While yogurt is the result of fermentation, almost all the dairy in the U.S. is pasteurized and homogenized, meaning most of the beneficial bacteria are killed off. The few surviving bacteria need to make it past the stomach acid to get to the large intestine, which is very unlikely (6). For this reason, a variety of yogurt manufacturers will fortify product with bacterial strains that are clinically proven. That is why you should keep an eye out for yogurts that say they have live cultures and list them on their ingredients panel. Also, try to avoid products loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners that promote bad gut bacteria.
Many people are beginning to understand the benefits of fermented food. To learn more about fermented foods or how to ferment on your own, read the article on DIY Fermentation.
- “The Health Benefits of Fermenting” https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-offermenting Accessed January 19th, 2018.
- Health Benefits of Fermented Foods” https://wellnessmama.com/2245/fermented-food-benefits/ Accessed January 19th, 2018.
- “What Is Fermentation? Benefits of Fermentation + How to Ferment Foods” https://draxe.com/what-is-fermentation/ Accessed January 19th, 2018.
- “Fermented Wheat Germ Extract” https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/FermentedWheatGermExtract.html Accessed February 12th, 2018