The fermentation of foods certainly isn’t new. It is believed to date back more than 8,000 years when civilizations were making beer, wine and bread. It involves a process called lacto-fermentation. During this process, natural bacteria (also called lactobacilli) feed on starches and sugars, converting them to lactic acid. This preserves the food and creates prebiotics and probiotics, along with other nutrients including b-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and beneficial enzymes.
Common fermented foods include: Kombucha, yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, umeboshi, pickles, natto and sourdough.
There are many benefits of fermented foods so let’s look at what makes them so great. Firstly, fermented foods are live and active. They are teeming with beneficial bacteria and yeast. They contain a variety of live cultures (probiotics) along with prebiotics which are simply the food the probiotics feast on to help them grow.
The process of fermentation pre-digests crucial nutrients for you. Fermented foods are considered a functional and whole food loaded with vitamins, minerals and enzymes. In addition to this, the microflora further aid the absorption of the nutrients in the foods you eat considerably. Fermentation does not use heat. This allows fermented foods and drinks to retain their vital amino acids and nutrients that can be destroyed by heat. It is also worth noting that fermented foods and drinks are acid-resistant. As our digestive system is reliant on the use of acids to breakdown food, being acid-resistant means they are viable in the body from the mouth all the way down to the gut.
You may have heard of fermented foods for gut health. Well, fermented foods provide all the benefits associated with improved gut flora. These include:
They also contain some great nutrients, which are readily absorbed into your body due to the effect cultured foods have on your gut. Here are the main ones:
Fermented foods are beneficial for just about everyone. They are a functional food and are therefore an easy way to pack extra nutrients and beneficial bacteria into your diet. We especially recommend them if you:
Fermented foods are a great way of preserving your food as they will last months in the fridge. Once you start fermenting your own foods you will realise it’s a budget-friendly way of looking after your health.