Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

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Earlier than I began consuming actual meals, ferments like sauerkraut and kombucha weren’t even on my radar. These fermented meals tasted and smelled too robust to me, and I had little interest in consuming them. I most popular my bland carbohydrates, thanks very a lot! 

Quick ahead a number of years, and I seen I began to take pleasure in these meals. I even craved them on occasion. I used to be at all times afraid to strive making them myself. However as I learn extra about their well being advantages I used to be ultimately courageous sufficient to strive them. Try this put up in regards to the significance of conventional meals

Now that I’ve, I’ll by no means return. I recognize all of the well being advantages of fermented meals. I even eat kimchi commonly!  

What Are Fermented Meals?

Fermented meals undergo a strategy of lacto-fermentation. Pure micro organism feed on the sugar and starch within the meals, creating lactic acid. This course of preserves the meals and creates useful enzymes, nutritional vitamins, and minerals. It additionally makes biologically lively peptides and varied strains of probiotics. The lactic acid micro organism even make vitamin K2, which is vital for bone well being. 

After we ferment meals it preserves vitamins and makes them simpler to digest.  

For instance, the fermentation course of in sourdough bread makes gluten simpler for our digestive system to soak up. It even lowers the FODMAPs in wheat. This makes it simpler to digest for these with IBS and different FODMAP points, like bloating after meals.  

Not solely are they simpler to digest, however they’re filled with probiotics. This might clarify the hyperlink between consuming fermented meals and higher intestine well being.

Listed below are a number of the reason why cultures have historically fermented meals:

  1. Helps stop meals spoilage and mildew.
  2. Helps cease meals from transferring dangerous micro organism or different pathogens to the particular person consuming it.
  3. Retains meals contemporary between harvest and consuming (makes meals shelf-stable).
  4. It modifications or improves the flavour of meals (assume cucumbers to pickles).
  5. It improves the dietary worth of meals by producing nutritional vitamins and different vitamins.

A method fermenting improves vitamins in meals is by breaking down anti-nutrients. These plant toxins are naturally current in sure meals and block us from absorbing different vitamins.

For instance, fermenting soybeans helps decrease their phytic acid ranges. Olives want fermentation to even be edible. Some ferments scale back the oxalate degrees, like in pickled beets.

Widespread Fermented Meals

Cultures world wide have eaten fermented greens, dairy, and different meals for years. From sauerkraut in Germany to kimchi in Korea and all over the place in between. These meals have been an vital contributor to human well being for generations.

Listed below are only a few examples of fermented meals. I’ve additionally included some recipes to make your self or incorporate into recipes:


After we consider pickles, we often consider cucumber pickles. However you possibly can pickle many alternative meals, together with inexperienced beans, carrots, beets, and extra. Right here’s how one can pickle cucumbers


Germans have been fermenting cabbage for 1000’s of years to maintain all of it winter lengthy. Not solely is it sensible for meals storage, but it surely’s additionally nice for well being. You possibly can simply discover ways to make sauerkraut at residence. 


This Korean facet dish is greater than fermented cabbage. Conventional household recipes combine issues up by including different greens. For instance, spring onions, cucumber, celery, bamboo shoots, seaweed, and extra. Kimchi additionally varies in seasonings. Standard choices embrace zingy spices and condiments like Korean chili powder, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce. 


Miso is a fermented soybean paste. The Japanese first made it with salt and koji (a fungus, Aspergillus oryzae). Some add different substances, like seaweed, grains (rice or barley), and sesame seeds. Cooks use miso in soups and sauces and as a seasoning. 


This fermented soybean cake hails from Indonesia. They ferment soybeans with a fungus, both Rhizopus oligosporus or Rhizopus oryzae. Many marinate it in brine or spices after which fry it. Tempeh is then eaten alone or used as an ingredient in soups, stir-fries, or sandwiches. It’s actually good at absorbing the flavors of no matter you cook dinner it in.


That is one other fermented soybean meals from Japan. They ferment complete soybeans with Bacillus subtilis var. Natto. It’s an acquired style with its robust odor, and taste and has a sticky or slimy texture. They usually serve it with rice, and (imagine it or not) it’s common breakfast meals in Japan. It’s eaten chilly, and a few folks take pleasure in it with added onion or kimchi. 


The yogurt most individuals purchase at present is nothing like its unique type. We used to make yogurt with uncooked milk and with out added sugar, colours, or flavors. The cultures break down the proteins and sugars within the milk to make it extra digestible. The stay micro organism additionally profit the intestine microbiota in our digestive system. 


One other type of fermented dairy is cheese. A distinct sort of tradition is used to make cheese than yogurt. Even the completely different sorts of cheeses have completely different micro organism cultures. Longer fermented or “aged” cheeses break down extra of the sugars. This implies they are usually higher tolerated by these with lactose intolerance. 

Fermented Drinks 

The well being advantages of fermented drinks are much like these of fermented meals: 


Historically constituted of grapes, wine can also be constituted of many alternative substances. This will embrace apples, cherries, dandelions, and even pumpkins. You’ve most likely heard wine has the antioxidant resveratrol, which comes from grape skins.

When selecting out a bottle of wine, there are specific issues to be careful for. This consists of pesticide ranges, GMO exposures, sulfites, and extra. Quite a lot of wines add sugar and dye to make them style and look higher.

Study extra about how to decide on a wholesome wine in this podcast episode


This now common drink is fermented tea. It was initially made with black tea and sugar and fermented with a starter referred to as a SCOBY. SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony Of Micro organism and Yeast. Now, kombucha is made with a wide range of teas and flavorings. Some even have fruit juices or coconut water added to them. 

Industrial kombucha may be costly and has added sugar. However fortunately, you possibly can simply make kombucha your self. Right here’s how one can make kombucha at residence. You can also make it in batches, however I wish to make steady brew kombucha to save lots of time and hold it at all times out there. 


Conventional cultures made fermented dairy merchandise, together with kefir with milk. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to make use of cow dairy. For many who can’t do dairy, strive my Coconut Milk Kefir Recipe. You can too make water kefir with this Water Kefir Soda Recipe.

Research present the hyperlink between probiotic-rich meals and total well being. Sadly, with technological advances and modifications in meals preparation, these time-honored meals have been largely misplaced in trendy society.

The place Have All of the Fermented Meals Gone?

The quantity of probiotics and enzymes within the common weight-reduction plan has declined sharply over the previous few a long time. Pasteurized milk has changed uncooked milk. Pasteurized yogurt has changed do-it-yourself. Vinegar-based pickles and sauerkraut have changed conventional lacto-fermented variations… the listing goes on.

Even grains had been safer to eat once we ready them by soaking, sprouting, and fermenting them. These traditions largely scale back the anti-nutrient content material and make them much less dangerous. Phytic acid and lectins are a number of examples.

As a substitute of the nutrient-rich meals filled with enzymes and probiotics our grandparents most likely ate, at present’s common weight-reduction plan is principally sugar-laden, lab-created lifeless meals.

So, why are fermented meals so good for you? We’ll cowl that subsequent.

Well being Advantages of Fermented Meals

Why eat these meals? For starters, they style wonderful (I promise the style will develop on you!). There are many different causes to begin making and consuming fermented meals:

  • Probiotics – Fermented meals and drinks introduce useful micro organism to the digestive system. In addition they assist steadiness the micro organism within the intestine. Probiotics have even been proven to assist sluggish or reverse some illnesses. Plus they’ll support digestion and improve immunity.
  • Postbiotics –  Fermented meals additionally assist enhance your physique’s manufacturing of POSTbiotics. These are the product of your intestine micro organism digesting a prebiotic substance, like fiber. They’re truly a waste product of micro organism. Postbiotics embrace issues you could have heard of. Like short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), together with butyrate, enzymes, lysates, and amino acids. You possibly can be taught extra about postbiotics right here.
  • Take in Meals Higher – Having balanced intestine micro organism and sufficient digestive enzymes helps you soak up extra vitamins from meals. Fermentation additionally improves the bioavailability of meals’s vitamins. For instance, fermented oat gruel improves iron absorption. You could not want as many dietary supplements since you’ll be absorbing extra of the stay vitamins in your meals. All because of the microorganisms serving to you out.
  • Enhance Intestine Well being – Together with lactic acid micro organism from fermented meals can enhance digestive well being. Fermentation mainly prompts dietary compounds in meals (for instance, flavonoids). They then profit the physique, enhancing cardiovascular, immune, and metabolic well being. 
  • Promote Weight Loss – Fermented meals might also assist battle the bulge. Every day consumption of fermented meals results in decreased physique weight over time. The steadiness of intestine microbiome species could make the distinction in selling weight reduction or weight achieve. For that purpose, these meals are vital to think about within the battle in opposition to weight problems.
  • Enhance Psychological Well being – Bettering intestinal well being with fermented meals could enhance your psychological state. It feeds microbes that produce feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin. Widespread antidepressants referred to as SSRIs assist recycle serotonin. Addressing the intestine ought to be a key a part of psychological well being care. 
  • Decrease Irritation – Together with extra fermented meals in your weight-reduction plan will help decrease irritation. Growing good micro organism within the gastrointestinal tract promotes the manufacturing of anti-inflammatory postbiotics.
  • Steadiness the Immune System – By growing the range of species within the microbiome, fermented meals additionally assist steadiness the immune system.

Sensible Advantages of Fermented Meals

  • Price range-Pleasant – Including wholesome meals to your weight-reduction plan can get costly. Home made fermented meals are a straightforward solution to pack in diet, even on a price range. You can also make your individual whey at residence for a number of {dollars}. Somewhat little bit of sea salt is a straightforward solution to inexpensively ferment veggies and different meals. You can also make drinks like water kefir and kombucha at residence that value solely pennies per serving. Including this stuff to your weight-reduction plan might additionally minimize down on the dietary supplements you want, serving to the price range additional.
  • Preserves Meals Simply – Home made salsa solely lasts a number of days within the fridge—fermented do-it-yourself salsa lasts months! The identical goes for sauerkraut, pickles, beets, and different backyard meals. Lacto-fermentation permits you to retailer these meals for longer durations with out dropping the vitamins. Not like conventional canning.
  • Save Area – For those who can vacuum-seal them, you possibly can retailer lacto-ferments in your pantry or storage as an alternative of refrigerating them. That is actually useful in the summertime when I attempt to save as a lot contemporary produce as potential. 

Convey on the Micro organism! Incorporate Fermented Meals Into Your Weight loss program

Including fermented meals to your weight-reduction plan may be a straightforward course of. Plus it may possibly prevent cash on probiotics and digestive enzyme dietary supplements!

On a primary degree, you may make meals like sauerkraut with simply cabbage, water, and salt in your counter. That recipe may be adjusted right down to make one head of cabbage price in a quart-sized jar.

You can too incorporate fermented drinks like carbonated water kefir and kombucha. These are cheap to make and may substitute unhealthy drinks like soda. I really like the starters from Kombucha Kamp to make my very own! To get began, order a SCOBY tradition right here.

Fermented Meals Recipes

Listed below are some extra fermented meals recipes for you:

Fermented Drink Recipes

You probably have any digestive points, begin sluggish on fermented meals. You could need to start with only a tablespoon of sauerkraut a number of days every week or a number of sips of kefir and work up from there. For those who discover any bloating or abdomen upset, decelerate, cease, or speak to your physician. You could be scuffling with SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). 

This text was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Pfleghaar, D.O., FACEP, ABOIM. Dr. Jennifer is a double board-certified doctor, is now working in Emergency Drugs, and has an workplace in Ohio practising Integrative Drugs. As at all times, this isn’t private medical recommendation, and we suggest you speak along with your physician.

Are you a fan of fermented meals or nonetheless on the fence? For those who already eat fermented meals, please share your favorites!

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