Fermented foods are all the rage now thanks to food commercials and TV celebrities. However, these foods are a staple for most traditional diets due to their health benefits.

Moreover, these foods enhance your immune system as well as impact your digestion.

Here’s a look at what are fermented foods, the types of fermented foods, and if they have any impact on your digestion.

What are Fermented Foods?

Fermented cucumber in a jar with onion beside it

These foods go through a process at which the bacteria in them to promote fermentation. Fermentation is a chemical process that involves bacteria and other microorganisms breaking down sugars and starches within the foods, which results in easier to digest foods filled with essential enzymes and helpful microbes.

What are fermented foods benefits?


We included some below:

Preserve Food

Fermentation helps to preserve food. It was an ancient practice used to extend the shelf life of foods such as wine and cheese. These foods do not need artificial chemicals or refrigeration for preservation. Time assists fermentation, which makes fermented foods healthy.

Enhance Gut Flora

Fermentation also adds microbes to the gut. Certain foods like kefir and kimchi have a supply of good bacteria that is useful for your gut and strengthen digestion. You can now get clean from the inside out.

Anti-nutrients are natural or synthetic compounds that affect the absorption of nutrients. Fermentation can help destroy these nutrients. The process is also beneficial when preparing beer as the fermented yeast produces alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Improve Your Immunity

​Any undigested food particles and fungus spread all over the body if the bad bacteria overwhelms the friendly bacteria, this leads to a leaky gut syndrome. All this results in autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and Addison’s disease.

Fermented foods can boost and heal your immune system, ensuring that you’re healthy and productive like before.

Detoxification

​Fermented foods act as detoxifiers. They can get rid of arsenate, mercury, lead, aluminum, and any toxic substance that could affect your health.

Full of Nutrients

Your gut will have beneficial probiotic species of microbes if you eat one meal with fermented foods daily. Fermented foods contain essential nutrients like biotin, vitamin K2, vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12 which make them nutritious.

Also, fermentation breaks down the cellulose structure of vegetables, making them more mineral dense and nourishing. These foods are simpler to digest compared to their natural form.

The Best Fermented Foods

You don’t have to settle on fermented soy or sauerkraut as your choice of fermented foods.

There are multiple options to choose from like:

Yogurt

Vanilla yoghurt with oats and strawberries on top

​Yogurt is a favorite probiotic that contains live active cultures. These helpful bacteria support digestion and studies reveal that they could be beneficial to the skin. 

If you can’t handle dairy, you can opt for unpasteurized, raw yogurt or go for dairy-free yogurt options like yogurt made from almond or coconut milk. Yogurts with sugar may not have any health benefits as the sugars feed on pathogenic bacteria, which is counterproductive.

Miso

miso paste

​Miso is a fermented paste from soybeans and flavors salads and soups. The paste is a favorite with the Japanese due to its flavor and high sodium content. It’s also rich in zinc, antioxidants, iron, and magnesium.

Premature aging is because of radical damage. Miso is rich in antioxidants which prevents aging skin, and the amino acids promote your skin’s overall health.

A study conducted on women who consumed miso soup found them to be at a lower risk of breast cancer. Miso soup according to research can help reduce the risk of stroke. You can stir miso into soup or use it as a glaze when cooking vegetables. Miso also works well when marinating meat or in salad dressings.

Kimchi

kimchi in a stainless jar

​Kimchi is a spicy Asian fermented cabbage that has probiotics. Research shows that this food can help lower cholesterol, improve immunity, contribute to colon health, and aid in weight loss. The fermented cabbage also promotes healthy skin due to its anti-aging properties.

Kefir

kiwi cocktail

Kefir has its origins in the Caucasian mountains of the former USSR, and it’s a favorite food and drink in Eastern Europe and Russia. Although Kefir resembles yogurt, the former helps to colonize the gastrointestinal tract.

In addition, Kefir has beneficial yeast and bacteria, unlike yogurt which contains only contains a few strains of bacteria. The bacteria found in kefir flushes out any pathogens in the body. Kefir is high in biotin, folate, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B12.

A study conducted found that consuming 200ml of kefir daily for a month reduced markers of inflammation, which is a known cause of cancer and heart disease. Kefir can help enhance bone health especially in people with osteoporosis, a condition that makes one have weak and porous bones.

You can add kefir to your blended drinks and smoothies for added health benefits.

Kombucha

kombucha in a glass jar

​Kombucha is a fermented drink made of sugar from honey or fruit and black tea. The beverage has a colony of yeast and bacteria which promotes the fermentation when mixed with sugar. It’s essential to note that Kombucha contains little amounts of alcohol, but not enough to get you intoxicated.

You can find Kombucha in grocery stores, natural food stores, and in farmers’ markets. Studies conducted on animals show that Kombucha can help prevent liver toxicity and any damage that is because of harmful chemicals. Another research shows that Kombucha helps reduce blood sugar and block the spread of cancer cells.

Tempeh

Tempeh salad on a wooden bowl

​Tempeh consists of fermented soybeans. It resembles tofu, a plant-based protein. However, tempeh goes through fermentation and consists of a nuttier flavor and a firm texture. Being an excellent source of probiotic makes tempeh an ideal source of vegetarian protein.

Research conducted on 42 people with high cholesterol found that those who ate soy protein had a 5% decrease in bad LDL cholesterol and over 13% reduction in blood triglycerides. Tempeh is ideal for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. You can use it in your stir-fries and sandwiches for added health benefits.

Sauerkraut

sauerkraut in a glass jar

​Sauerkraut is a product from salt and cabbage, with its roots in Chinese, Russian and German cuisine. It’s a fermented food full of fiber and probiotics that you can buy at the store or make your own. The food is also high in Vitamin A, K, C, and B. The type found in the refrigeration section have extra probiotics than the jarred or cannedm varieties.

Sauerkraut has two antioxidants, lutein, and zeaxanthin that reduce the risk of eye disease and promote eye health. The antioxidants can help prevent cancer. You can use sauerkraut as a sandwich topping, in your next casserole, or add it to a bowl of soup for added flavor. Always opt for unpasteurized sauerkraut as its beneficial bacteria is still live.

Natto

fermented soybeans in a wooden bowl

​Natto consists of fermented soybeans and is a favorite with the Japanese especially during breakfast. Also, the Japanese combine it with bunching onion, karashi mustard, and soy sauce to ferment it. Once fermented, Natto has a deep flavor and strong smell which newbies may find stronger.

Natto has Vitamin K, an essential nutrient used in calcium metabolism, a vital element in bone health. Fermented Natto produces nattokinase, an enzyme that prevents and dissolves blood clots.You can use Natto with rice or as part of your breakfast due to its strong flavor.

Fermented Pickles

fermented pickles in a white plate

​While pickles may sound ordinary, fermented pickles have lots of minerals and vitamins. They are rich in antioxidants and contain gut-friendly bacteria which promotes digestion. Fermented pickles have brine and cucumbers, while store-bought pickles have cucumbers and vinegar.

When shopping, look for lactic acid fermented pickles made using brine and organic products. Farmers market are also an excellent place to get fermented pickles.

​Raw Cheese

Room full of different kinds of cheese

​Raw milk cheese is a product of unpasteurized milk from sheep and goats. These two sources are high in probiotics and ages like fine wine. When shopping for raw cheese look for one that’s manufactured and have lasted for six months and one that indicates that its unpasteurized cheese.

How do Fermented Foods Impact Digestion?

Most people have an assumption that once they eat fermented foods, the bacteria will camp out in the gut which will make them healthier. However, this is not the case. Foods that go through fermentation by bacteria, the bacteria present in the diet helps to create beneficial metabolic by- products which are ideal for gut health.

For example, when dairy foods undergo fermentation, it creates lactic acid which can provide antioxidants and reduce inflammation in the intestinal cells. Derivate from fermented dairy products and amino acids stimulate the immune and brain system.

What are fermented foods? They were favorite foods in the past to strengthen the gut microbiome. The above foods go through a process that boosts their nutritional value and shelf life, which leads to healthy probiotics essential for healthy digestion.

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