When most people think about fermentation, their thoughts naturally run to things like beer or wine. However, fermentation occurs in many other food products. Fermented food might sound a bit strange, but it can offer a wide range of benefits to the body when consumed regularly.
As fermented foods are already partially digested, they can be a bit easier on the system for people with digestive difficulties. This can even help with food sensitivities because the fermenting action removes some of the elements to which the body is sensitive. For example, yogurt (a fermented food) doesn’t have the same lactose content as milk. Many people with lactose intolerance can eat yogurt, but cannot drink milk.
Our bodies play host to a broad range of other organisms. Bacteria lives within our bodies in many different shapes and forms. In a healthy body, good bacteria helps control harmful bacteria which keeps our systems balanced. However, our modern diets all too often lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria contributing to problems ranging from yeast infections to gluten intolerance. Fermented foods introduce good bacteria to the gut, which can assist in resolving a number of health issues. Studies have shown gut bacteria affects everything from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to depression.
Better Vitamin Absorption
We’re all familiar with the concept of taking vitamins for better health. However, ingesting those vitamins is only half the battle. If the body cannot absorb vitamins and minerals, they’re just passing through the system without actually offering much benefit. New studies are showing fermented foods increase not only the vitamin content of some foods, but also suggest improved ability to absorb nutrients.
No Nutrition Loss
There is much concern in the raw food community about the potential loss of nutrients which occurs when food is cooked. Fermented foods (unless pasteurized) are considered raw, therefore there is little risk of losing nutritional value. In fact, it actually increases in the amount of certain nutritional factors. A recent study pointed out fermented milk products contain significantly higher levels of folate than their unfermented counterparts.
There are quite a few significant health benefits to eating fermented foods. Whether you prefer sauerkraut, pickled beets, kimchi (pickled cabbage) or something else; fermented foods are ripe for exploration for both food lovers and those who want to improve their health naturally.