The words “fermented food” have a lot of connotations associated with them, not all positive. They might evoke the thought of food that has gone bad, or has some percentage of alcohol, like wine from fermented grapes. The truth is, fermented foods, like sauerkraut, pickles or sour dough, have an incredible amount of health benefits that many people aren’t even aware of. Here are some well proven ways that fermented food can improve your health.
Multiple studies have shown that fermenting food actually changes the amount of nutrients in the food. One such study looked at kefir, fermented cow or goat milk, and found that folic acid, pyridoxine and thiamine all increased around 20% as compared to non-fermented milk. Fruits, grains and even beans also become more nutritious when fermented.
Balanced stomach acid
As we age, the amount of stomach acid we produce begins to decrease. Lower acid levels means longer digestions, and possibly difficulty digesting certain foods. Fermented foods, when eaten in consistently and in moderation, help to increase the acidity of our stomach acid, leading to better digestion of other foods.
Increased digestive power
Ingesting fermented foods, helps to eliminate the phytic acid often found in foods like nuts, beans, seeds and grains. Phytic acid reduced the amount of minerals our body can absorb during regular digestion. It also aids in the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that regulates the functioning of a number of organs, including the stomach, the gallbladder, the pancreas and the bowel. In short, acetylcholine helps alleviate constipation and improves overall digestion.
Easier to digest
It might not sound appealing, but the process of fermenting food partially breaks down, or pre-digests, the carbohydrates they contain, making it easier for our system to process it. This is especially beneficial for people suffering from diabetes, as it eliminates the extra strain on the pancreas that regular carbohydrates often produce.
Inhibit harmful bacteria
Whereas some bacteria is beneficial to the functioning of our bodies, others will make us sick, sometimes dangerously so. Fermented foods help fight the bacteria that can enter our digestive system through contaminated foods, foods that have begun to go bad. Fresh sauerkraut has been shown to effectively kill the bacteria that causes both typhoid fever and cholera and the bacteria found in sourdough bread has proven effective at killing other harmful bacteria that causes many other illnesses.
Whether it is miso, sauer kraut, tempeh, kimchi or kefir, fermented foods have been shown to be of great benefit to our bodies. A healthy digestion system is the start of a healthy body, and it affects many of the functions the rest of the body’s organs carry out. If you’re looking for something that will increase your energy levels, improve digestion and boost the amount of nutrients your body takes in, fermented foods are the way to go. Try adding some pickles to your sandwich or some buttermilk in your mashed potatoes. Your body will thank you.