Why You Should Eat Fermented Foods
By Megan Thompson
Gut bacteria has been a trending topic. It wasn’t long ago when the only way you could get your hands on Kombucha was to brew your own. Today, it can be found on the shelves of nearly every major grocery store. Adding fermented foods is a wonderful way to help get over stomach disorders and boost your overall immune system.
Before you slam the door on the idea thinking these foods smell strong and are an acquired taste, you might want to get the scoop on just how beneficial they can be!
Fermented Foods 101
If you’re wondering what exactly fermented foods are, there’s a simple explanation:
Natural bacteria found in food feed on the starch and sugar content of food, which then creates a byproduct called lactic acid. This process is referred to as lacto-fermentation.
During this time, a lot of good-for-you substances are created in the food, including b-vitamins, probiotics (in various strains), and omega-3’s. The process also preserves the food and breaks it down into a more digestible version of what you’d normally consume.
In short, the fermentation process ensures that foods are enriched with an abundance of probiotics, which maintains gut health, and as such, may help improve digestion.
Benefits of Eating Fermented Foods
Here are a few great reasons why you should consider including fermented foods in your daily diet:
- They’re an excellent source of probiotics.
Fermented drinks like Kefir are loaded with good bacteria that may help boost the digestive functions, and it can also help balance out the digestive tract’s bacteria levels. Probiotics found in fermented foods and drinks have also shown significant improvements in slowing conditions such as bowel problems, digestive issues, and weak immune system.
- They’ll help your body absorb nutrients better.
Once your gut bacteria levels are in balance, your digestive tract produces enough enzymes to effectively and efficiently absorb maximum nutrients from the foods you ingest. This, in turn, may even lead you to rely less on supplemental nutrients and vitamins that need to be taken on a daily basis, since you’ll be able to get most of your daily needs from a real, healthy diet.
- They won’t break the bank.
A lot of health foods and supplements cost a small fortune, but fermented foods? They’re super cheap and easy to make at home, no prescription needed!
- You’ll be able to easily preserve your own foods at home.
Just picture this: Taco Tuesday’s homemade salsa can only sit in the fridge until Friday because by then it’s past its use-by-date. Fermented salsa, on the other hand, can easily be stored in the fridge for months! The same rule applies to most garden veggies like pickles, beets, and cabbage. You’ll be able to keep foods around for much longer, while also ensuring that their nutrients aren’t lost, which is what happens with traditional canning methods.
Fabulous Fermented Foods
If you’re stuck in the dark and have no clue as to what fermented foods to try out first, here are a few recommendations just to give you a little kick start!
Think of milk Kefir as drinking yogurt, just without all the sugar. Kefir is made from Kefir grains, and you can either stick to the fermented milk idea or steer down the water Kefir road, whichever one floats your boat. Kefir may help reduce intestinal discomfort and it may also help prevent any nasty pathogens from entering the blood stream.
Kombucha is a fermented drink that’s made with tea, yeast, bacteria, water, and sugar. It’s just as popular as Kefir for a probiotic drink; in fact, most folks that can’t deal with the taste of Kefir just hop on the Kombucha bandwagon. If you’re a die-hard soda drinker, this drink’s fizzy zing might have you sold.
Cabbage, water, salt, and finally a little heat is what’s used to produce Sauerkraut. Getting in some of the sour stuff every now and again delivers a big dose of probiotics to your digestive system, which may help improve digestive functions and even help prevent the formation of cancer cells.
Kimhi is the spicy Asian version of Sauerkraut. It has been linked to treating conditions such as colon problems, high cholesterol, cognitive dysfunctions, weak immune system, and skin problems. It may even be effective as a weight loss aid. Studies indicate that Kimchi may also help fight off premature aging and support the immune system.
Natto is fermented soybeans that deliver a potent punch of calcium, vitamin K2, and dietary fiber. K2 is a vitamin that promotes good heart health because it has the ability to keep calcium away from the arteries and redirect it to the bones. Natto may help lower blood pressure and protect both your heart and brain, thanks to a core substance called Nattokinase.
We’ve just shown you a bunch of great reasons why you should jump on the fermented foods bandwagon and a few of our favorite fermented foods to get started. All you need to do now is step in and try it. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Megan is a DIY health & beauty addict. She’s committed to making her itsy-bitsy apartment chemical free and her diet as unprocessed as possible. You can find her work at Gold Mountain Beauty where she is responsible for the blog, Instagram and Pinterest.