Natural food fermentation is a process where “friendly” bacteria break down food components such as starch and sugar and convert these into lactic acid. Fermentation has been practiced for ages by various cultures around the world, mainly for food preservation. Over the years, this process has somewhat become a tradition and has produced popular products like yogurt, kimchi (Korea), and sauerkraut (Germany).
Along with food preservation, natural food fermentation produces a whole lot of other good stuff like probiotics, enzymes, and even some vitamins. One reason why food fermentation has been practiced for such a long time is because it does not only prolong the food’s shelf-life, it also does a lot of good for the body.
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Here Are 5 Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
1. Improved digestion
Fermented foods are essentially pre-digested because food components are already partially broken down by microorganisms during the fermentation process. Aside from making it easier for the stomach to digest food, fermentation also helps in making the stomach tolerant of components that it does not usually accept. For example, lactose intolerant people cannot digest milk but may tolerate yogurt because the lactose in it is already partially processed.
2. Introduction of probiotics in the stomach
Probiotics are good bacteria that do loads of good for the gut. Fermented foods are teeming with these probiotics which help keep bacterial balance not only in the stomach but the whole digestive system as well. Probiotics can help cure discomforts such as gluten intolerance, allergies, and constipation, which are usually caused by lack of good bacteria in the stomach.
3. Balances stomach acid
The stomach produces gastric juices, mainly hydrochloric acid, in facilitating digestion. Too little of this may cause indigestion, and too much of it can cause hyperacidity. Fermented foods help in balancing the production of gastric juices by producing more if there is less of it, and protecting the stomach lining if there is too much.
4. Improved mineral and nutrient absorption
Improved digestion may help in absorbing the nutrients that the body needs but the enzymes produced by probiotics in fermented foods assist in optimizing mineral and nutrient absorption. Enzymes are important so the body can efficiently maintain all its functions. As the body ages, enzyme production is lowered. Eating fermented foods may supplement the loss and keep mineral and nutrient absorption at optimum levels.
5. Added vitamin intake
Fermented foods, specifically fermented dairy products have been shown to have increased vitamin content. The production of these added vitamins vary depending on the strain of bacteria, but studies show an increase in folic acid and B vitamin contents (vitamin B12 included).
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Naturally fermented foods have suffered quite a decline in popularity in recent years, but they are slowly regaining their glory as people become increasingly conscious of their health and are rediscovering long-lost health foods. However, before stocking up on yogurt, pickles or kimchi, one should know that most store-bought fermented foods may not contain all the good stuff anymore.
Most bottled and canned foods that are sold today have undergone pasteurization and were sterilized in high heat, thereby killing all bacteria, even the good ones. Some products may even contain high amounts of sugar or sodium, so always carefully read the labels. To be sure you’ll get the benefits of the live bacteria and no added chemicals, opt for home-made fermented foods.
Next to cultured coconut yogurt, we also often make our own cultured fizzy drinks and kimchi.
Thanks for reading. I hope this information was helpful. Until next time!
Crazy cat lady, life and food lover, certified biologist, and holistic health coach.