5 benefits of eating fermented foods

Greetings dear reader, today I want to talk to you about fermented food and what benefits it brings to human health, especially digestive health.

Long eaten by humans, fermented foods have been a dietary staple for thousands of years.

But why have fermented foods always been so popular?

Was it just a way to preserve food before refrigeration was available, or is there more to it than that?

In this article I will explain the health benefits of fermented foods and how they can affect the health of our intestines.

What are fermented foods?

Fermentation of food is a process that preserves and encourages the growth of beneficial enzymes and bacteria.

One of the most traditional ways of fermenting food is to use the lacto-fermentation process. In very simple terms, the process begins by soaking the vegetables in water or salt water.

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Soon after, the harmful bacteria present in the vegetable die while the good bacteria survive.

After this, the good bacteria convert the natural sugars present in the vegetables into lactic acid. As a result, lactic acid levels increase and preserve food.

This process has many benefits , because it helps improve both the nutrient profile and digestibility of foods. In addition, fermentation creates good bacteria and enzymes that benefit our health, preserve food and create new flavors.

All our ancestors incorporated these foods in their diet, for example, Europeans consumed cheese, sauerkraut, wine and yogurt, in Asia, kimchi, natto and various fermented fish recipes are still popular after centuries of consumption.

5 benefits of eating fermented foods

We have recently rediscovered the importance of gut health and probiotics, and at this stage no one can really say how important (or not) they might be.

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However, here is a list where I show you the five health benefits of fermented foods.

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1- They improve intestinal health and the balance of the microbiota.

Optimal functioning of the digestive system is important to absorb nutrients properly, this is where fermented foods are beneficial. When we eat fermented foods, probiotics (also known as “good bacteria”) enter our digestive system.

In this process, bacteria such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium produce lactic acid and aid in the optimal breakdown of food during digestion. The good bacteria in fermented foods help us digest food, destroy bad bacteria, and aid in the manufacture of vitamins.

Additionally, the ratio of good to bad bacteria in our gut plays a role in the development (or prevention) of many health problems.

For example, recent studies link our gut health to cancer, heart disease, and dementia risk, as well as several other chronic conditions.

2- Metabolic dysfunction.

Additional research suggests that the gut microbiota plays an important role in preventing metabolic dysfunction in humans.

The gut microbiota can also play an important role in preventing diabetes-related “complications” such as foot ulcers, atherosclerosis, and diabetic retinopathy.

It’s worth remembering that refined carbohydrates and simple sugars have strong links to both type 2 diabetes (T2D) and an unbalanced gut flora.

The foods that favor a healthy microbiome are prebiotic vegetables, which are foods rich in fiber and that support good bacteria, including foods such as leafy vegetables, garlic, onions, carrots, leeks and chives.

3- Increase resistance against harmful bacteria.

Consumption of fermented foods leads to increased antimicrobial activity in the gut. This is through the production of beneficial microbes that defend against pathogens and bad bacteria.

Some of these microbes are even capable of eliminating procarcinogens and alleviating allergy symptoms. In addition to this individual impact that microbes make, they also stimulate the immune system.

Several studies claim that probiotics strengthen the immune system in general, allowing the body’s defenses to increase and destroy any harmful bacteria.

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4- They provide vitamins, minerals and enzymes.

Fermented ones provide very essential nutrients for health, such as:

  • Vitamin K2: like fermented soybeans, like natto.
  • Vitamin C: Like cabbage, chard, and kale.
  • And vitamins of Group B.
  • Minerals and enzymes.
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5- Decrease toxins and heavy metals.

They help to inhibit toxins contained in food, such as oxalic acid and nitrites. Likewise, through its enzymatic action, it contributes to the better digestion of vegetable fibers.

On the other hand, fermented foods help to eliminate heavy metals, this happens because when they go through a pre-digestion process, they are easily assimilated and perform the aforementioned function.

What are the best fermented foods?

Now that you know the benefits of fermented foods, you may be wondering how to incorporate them into your diet?

Here is a list of some fermented foods that can help you.

Kimchi

Possibly about 5 years ago, kimchi was not very well known, however today, almost everyone has heard of Korean sauerkraut and with good reason, it tastes great and improves health.

Kimchi is a fermented vegetable. To make it, the cabbage is seasoned with fish sauce, red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, and salt, and left to ferment.

Health benefits of Kimchi

Kimchi is considered to have anti-obesity, anti-cancer, probiotic, and antioxidant properties.

The effects of kimchi can be attributed to the wide range of beneficial compounds created by the fermentation of garlic, ginger, fish, and cabbage.

Chucrut

This traditional German food is known and loved throughout Europe. Like Kimchi, the main ingredient in sauerkraut is cabbage. But that’s where the similarities end.

On the plus side, making sauerkraut is a lot easier. The cabbage is simply layered, covered in salt, and left to ferment.

Sauerkraut health benefits

Sauerkraut is rich in vitamins A, C, K, and B, as well as a wide range of essential minerals.

Regular consumption of sauerkraut is linked to many health benefits, research is being done on the impact that sauerkraut has on reducing the incidence of cancer and allergic reactions.

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Many researchers believe that sauerkraut is healthier than raw or cooked cabbage, and that it contains an anticancer compound, but more research is needed.

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Raw cheese

Who doesn’t like cheese? If you’ve tried raw cheese, you’ll appreciate the fuller flavor and probiotic content.

What is raw cheese?

Raw cheese is simply cheese that has not been pasteurized. During the pasteurization process, dairy is exposed to intense heat that kills the beneficial bacteria strains and enzymes contained in the milk / cheese.

Health benefits of raw cheese

Cheese contains a range of beneficial bacteria, which are destroyed by high temperatures when heated to 47/48 ° C, so raw cheese retains this benefit while pasteurized cheese does not.

Yoghurt

Yogurt is one of those rare foods that almost everyone agrees on. It has numerous benefits, which have been documented for health.

What is yogurt?

Yogurt is a dairy food made from fermented milk. Beneficial bacterial strains that are added to milk and that start the fermentation process.

Yogurt comes in several varieties; The ideal is to choose a natural yogurt and avoid the low-fat and high-sugar versions.

Among its benefits, it can be noted that yogurt contains a high content of calcium and phosphorus, as well as beneficial probiotics.

Final Recommendations

Some people underestimate the importance of fermented foods, looking at them as an unnecessary addition to our diet. However, the dependence on fermented foods by our ancestors around the world indicates its historical value.

Our understanding of the gut microbiome is only in its infancy and new information is rapidly emerging. But based on current science, I would say that fermented foods can play an important role in any diet.

A balanced intestinal flora has very positive links with immunity against a wide range of health conditions. Lastly, eating small amounts of cultivated vegetables each day can introduce millions of beneficial bacteria into our gut.

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