“Fermentation.” You’ve probably heard of it, whether touring your favorite brewery, or while listening to your neighbor’s latest health kick.
There’s good reason it’s been popping up all over! Not only does the fermentation process create tasty food and beverages, but health experts believe it may be the key to good health.
So what are fermented foods, and why are they so beneficial?
Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance using bacteria and yeast.
You’ve likely already consumed plenty of fermented products- things like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, cheese, coffee, and chocolate, for example.
To understand why these foods are so helpful, we need to turn to our gut.
Our bodies are filled with trillions of live organisms and bacteria, collectively known as the microbiome. Every day, our microbiome controls thousands of daily bodily processes.
Fermented, or “cultured”, foods are packed with “good” bacteria that support our overall health in many ways, including improving digestion and cognitive function, boosting immunity, and providing minerals that build bone density. The nutrients in fermented foods are also easier for our bodies to absorb.
To give your biome a boost, try adding a few fermented foods to your diet:
- Sauerkraut- Made from fermented green or red cabbage, sauerkraut is high in dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and B vitamins. Unfortunately, store-bought sauerkraut is not always fermented. Traditional, fermented sauerkraut needs to be refrigerated and is typically stored in glass jars. Be sure that it says it’s fermented on the label.
- Kombucha- Made with black sea and sugar, kombucha is fizzy liquid and a great source of B vitamins. It’s typically consumed as a drink, but can also be used as a salad dressing or to marinate meats.
- Kimchi- Similar to sauerkraut, this spicy Asian fermented cabbage is tasty on its own, or can be added to rice, noodles, soup, or salad.