Fermented Foods

What are fermented foods?

Fermented foods are “left to sit and steep until the sugars and carbs that the food naturally contains interact with bacteria, yeast and microbes to change the chemical structure of the food. The process of fermentation converts compounds, such as a carbohydrate, including vegetables and sugar, to carbon dioxide and alcohol to an organic acid.”

Why are fermented foods good for us?

Fermented foods provide probiotics, which are bacteria that mostly live within our gut/digestive system. They help with digestion and help in maintaining a healthy digestive tract. The microbes in fermented foods are beneficial in fighting viruses, bacteria and fungi.

Studies have shown that the consumption of fermented probiotic foods has many positive effects on the whole body by increasing antibodies, building a stronger immune system, reducing vitamins and enzymes, which benefit our overall health.

Here are a few examples of fermented foods that you can start including in your diet:

Yogurt — Yogurt is a food produced by bacterial fermentation of milk which contains potassium, vitamin B12,calcium, protein and probiotics, the healthy bacteria. Avoid yogurt with added fruit or sugar.

Kefir- is a fermented milk drink made from kefir grains, which contains many nutrients such as b vitamins, tryptophan, probiotics, and yeast. Kefir contains kefiran, a polysaccharide which has shown to be associated with lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Kefir may also be a good option for you if you are lactose intolerant. Lactose is removed from the milk during the fermentation process.

Kombucha — This drink after being fermented, becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, B vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid (acetic, gluconic and lactic). Avoid kombucha which is high in sugar.

Pickles — During the fermentation process sugars are broken down into lactic acid bacteria. These have been known to help with gastrointestinal issues. The brine contains natural antioxidants such as vitamin C & E which may help fight free radicals which develop in our bodies. Also rich in vitamin K, this vitamin can help plays a vital role in bone and heart health.

Sauerkraut- is a type of fermented cabbage that creates conditions which promote the growth of probiotics. Studies show that probiotics help reduce gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Sauerkraut also contains enzymes, which help break down nutrients into smaller digestible molecules which aide in digestion. The sulforaphane found in sauerkraut and cabbage is a powerful phytochemical which research shows may help your body against diseases such as cancer.

Apple Cider Vinegar- Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains bacteria, the vinegar mother. This bacteria is considered the most nutritious part and has antimicrobial effects on the cell structure of some harmful bacteria such as yeast, and fungi. Studies have shown that it can reduce blood sugar levels when taken before a meal. Keep in mind to drink the cider with water through a straw in order to reduce tooth enamel damage.

Kimchi — Kimchi contains fermented seasoned vegetables filled with probiotics, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals which have been know to increase healthy digestion.

Fermented foods are healthy and have many benefits, however do keep in mind to introduce these foods slowly and not to consume too much at once. This may cause digestive issues such as bloating and diarrhea. Start with smaller amounts of fermented foods, and experiment with different types of of these foods to find one that you enjoy eating.

What should I look for in the fermented foods?

Purchase foods that are organic and contain “live cultures.” Look for the raw organic label which don’t contain sugar nor additives.

Smell, Taste, Enjoy. Be Mindful of the Food You Eat.