Fermented foods play a critical part in the diet of many different cultures such as Germany with its sauerkraut and Korea with its kimchi. Traditionally, the process was used as a preservation technique but also to help enhance the nutritional profile of some foods. In Western society, however, we are generally lacking in these types of fermented foods. Its not that we don’t have access, because we do, rather many of us are turned off by what we think it tastes like and many of us aren’t adventurous when it comes to our diets. Needless to say this is a shame and hopefully by the time you’ve reached the end of this blog post you will be a little more eager to give said foods a go.
Without getting too much into the nitty gritty….the process of lactofermentation is where natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch within the food source converting the glucose, fructose and sucrose into cellular energy as well as lactic acid, a metabolic byproduct. This helps to preserve the food and provide it with extra nutritional benefits such as beneficial digestive enzymes, various strains of probiotics, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.
Why eat fermented foods?
- Gut health. Fermented foods help restore gut health as both the lactic acid and the presence of various strains of probiotics help to promote the growth of healthy bacteria within the intestine. This can also act to slow or prevent the pathogenesis of some diseases and improve immunity.
- Reduces the sugar content of the food. The very art of fermentation relies on the presence of sugar within the food source to kick-start the process!
- Enhances digestive ability. Fermented food helps to provide for a proper balance of gut bacteria with sufficient digestive enzymes so that we can absorb as many nutrients as possible from our diet. Adding just a small amount of fermented foods to a wholefoods based, balanced diet is all we need. You may even find you may rely less on supplementation of vitamins and minerals because of this enhanced digestive capability.
- Economical. Fermented food is super easy and cheap to make but much more expensive to purchase. You can set up your own sauerkraut ferment at home in minutes and for as little as the cost of the cabbage. Homemade fermented beverages such as Kombucha and Water Kefir are cheap to make over and over again once you have the respective SCOBY and grains and when homemade, cost very little per serving. Like I said above, the addition of said foods can help reduce your need for supplementation, further reducing household expense.
So stock up on your mason jars and get fermenting today!