Benefits of Fermented Foods

What are fermented foods?
Fermented, probiotic, or cultured foods have undergone a process called lacto-fermentation whereby the natural healthy strains of bacteria (lactobacilli) found in many vegetables convert vegetable sugar and starch into lactic acid as a metabolic byproduct. This process prevents spoilage from occurring and creates beneficial nutrients. This process was used traditionally to help preserve food during the colder months when fresh vegetables were scarce. The pickling process today typically uses vinegar which does not create a live culture with its subsequent health benefits.
What are the health benefits of Fermented Foods?
Some of the beneficial effect of lactic acid bacteria consumption include: (i) improving intestinal tract health; (ii) enhancing the immune system, synthesizing and enhancing the bioavailability of nutrients; (iii) reducing symptoms of lactose intolerance, decreasing the prevalence of allergy in susceptible individuals; and (iv) reducing risk of certain cancers. J Appl Microbiol. 2006 Jun;100(6):1171-85.

Gut bacteria increase availability of B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and activated form of folate), vitamin C, glutathione (antioxidant), and enzymes needed for digestion and detoxification. Microflora play a direct role on our mood, emotions and mental health. They create 90% of our ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA, and dopamine. Bacteria are necessary to produce two vitamins: K and B12.
What are some of the benefits to eating fermented foods?
• Studies have shown that it can be a useful aid in balancing blood sugar and lowering cholesterol levels, especially in patients with Type II diabetes mellitus and/or metabolic syndrome. (1)
• Strengthens the immune system and removes toxins. (2)
• High in B-Vitamins (energy) and helps produce serotonin (feel good neurotransmitter). (3)
• A good source of Vitamin K2, which has been shown in recent studies to aid in osteoporosis prevention. K2 helps to transport calcium from the blood into the bones. (4)
• Makes nutrients in food more bio-available to us. (Easier to digest/absorb)
• Shown to improve skin integrity by decreasing inflammation

Sauerkraut/Fermented Veggies: the classic fermented vegetables have been long forgotten. However, these are not your average canned sauerkraut. You want to choose ones that are found in the refrigerator section of your grocery store to makes sure they are actually traditionally made with just salt and spices not vinegar. Canned sauerkraut uses vinegar to speed up the pickling process and loses any of the probiotic benefit. My favorite local brands are Zymbiotics. They have a delicious red cabbage kraut, a crunchy ginger carrot, orange beets, traditional kinchi and vegan kimchi. .
Kimchi: a traditional korean fermented veggie blend with a bit of kick! Kim chi is a great way to spice up your breakfast omelette or even mixed with guacamole for a flavor twist. Zymbiotics has a great classic kimchi and even offer a vegan option (no fish sauce), which is hard to find.
How do you incorporate them?
My number one tip is to start slow and work your way up! Even just two tablespoonfuls a day with your meal can be beneficial to your health. Ideas to adding them into diet:
• Add miso to hot water or your soups. Top with chopped green onions and sprouts.
• Top salads and rice dishes with sauerkraut or fermented veggies.
• Blend with an avocado, sea salt and black pepper to make a tasty dip.
• Use kefir in your smoothies or oatmeal and even to top your baked potato or chili.

More Benefits

  1. Improves digestion... Fermenting foods before we eat them is like partially digesting them before we consume them.
  2. Restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut... Do you suffer from lactose intolerance? Gluten intolerance? Constipation? Yeast infections? Allergies? Asthma? All these conditions have been linked to a lack of good bacteria in the gut. Eating fermented foods helps improve gut health by diversifying the bacterial communities in our digestive system.
  3. Raw, fermented foods are rich in enzymes..., Your body needs enzymes to properly digest, absorb, and make full use of your food. As you age, your body's supply of enzymes decreases.
  4. Fermenting food actually increases the vitamin content.
  5. Eating fermented food helps us to absorb the nutrients we're consuming.
  6. Fermenting food helps to preserve it for longer periods of time.
  7. Fermenting food increases the flavor.
  8. Fermented foods are good for people following raw diets and paleo diets.
  9. Research indicates that eating Fermented foods can help your skin.
  10. Eating fermented foods may reduce social anxiety.

Research indicates that consumption of naturally fermented kimchi can help individuals who are pre-diabetic.

There is evidence that kimchi can help prevent coronary artery. 

Fermenting vegetables decreases the sugar content and increases the amount of beneficial bioactive nutrients. 

Diverse gut microbiotia helps prevent childhood allergies.

Microbiome and Cognitive Development

30 Interesting Facts about Microbes and the Human Body

Health Guidelines state that naturally fermented probiotic foods can be just as effective as probiotic pills with the added benefits of nutirients and prebiotic fiber crtiical to gut microbiomes health.

New Infographics from ISAPP– Probiotics for Healthy People

Cancer Therapy-Two studies, in the journal Science linked the effectiveness of imunotherapy drugs to specific bacteria found in the digestive system of the patients.

Dietitians and Nutritionists recommend eating fermented foods on a regular basis to improve your health..