Fermented foods are also a raw food group, and can be added to a raw food diet. They are foods and sometimes beverages that have undergone controlled microbial growth and fermentation. It is a process where microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria, break down food components, including sugars, into other products like organic acids and gases.
The majority of foods can be fermented from whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, legumes, dairy, and cereals. These foods are beneficial in their original form, but they can carry additional health benefits through fermentation, especially if they have probiotics and prebiotics.
Probiotics are commonly known as good bacteria for the gut. Some of the well-known variations are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. They are live microorganisms or bacteria that can provide a health benefit to the human body. On the other hand, prebiotics is food ingredients that the microorganisms in the body use or feed on to live and grow, which leads to health benefits.
If you are wondering about the benefits that you can get from eating fermented foods, you’re in the right place. Today, we are giving you the reasons you should add this raw food group to your diet, and a few examples of the healthiest fermented foods you can try.
Benefits of Eating Fermented Foods
Here are some of the best reasons why you should eat fermented foods:
Fermented foods can help break down complex carbohydrates.
As mentioned earlier, fermented foods contain probiotics or good bacteria, and they can help break down complex carbohydrates in the food you eat. This process leads to other substances that are beneficial to the body. To be able to have a diverse gut microbiota, lots of soluble fiber is needed. They usually come from foods like oranges, oats, and beans. The insoluble fiber found in many whole grains is also good for the body. However, they are not easily fermented. Meaning, they do not contribute to the diversity of the gut bacteria.
Fermented foods can help the body in producing certain vitamins.
The good bacteria that fermented foods contain can also produce many vitamins that are needed by the body. Some of these include vitamins K, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12.
Fermented foods can help prevent chronic diseases.
Your intestine may have tiny bacteria, but they have full-body effects. Based on research, less diverse gut microbiota is linked with many chronic diseases, including asthma, obesity, and chronic inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease. Therefore, eating fermented foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics can help in improving your gut health and prevent acquiring chronic diseases.
Fermented foods can protect you from pathogenic bacteria.
Pathogenic bacteria are disease-causing bacteria, and people swallow them every day. You don’t usually get sick from it because the microscopic bacteria in your gut help you fight them. Probiotics help in producing acidic fermentation byproducts, and these can lower the intestine’s pH. When this happens, the chance of bad bacteria to survive is decreased. Aside from that, the good bacteria found in fermented foods also secrete antimicrobial proteins that fight off bad bacteria.
Fermented foods can help restore gut health after consuming antibiotics.
There are times when people suffer from digestive problems like diarrhea after taking antibiotics. It’s because antibiotics can wipe out both good and bad bacteria. Therefore, eating fermented foods after taking antibiotics can help in restoring your gut bacteria to normal. When eating fermented foods, choose those that are plant-based and high in fiber.
The Healthiest Fermented Foods for Your Diet
Here are some of the healthiest, probiotic-rich fermented foods that you can add in your diet for gut health:
Kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish that has a spicy taste. You can purchase it in supermarkets, along with other Asian ingredients and pickles. You can eat kimchi alone or use it as a topping for tacos or as a side dish to meals.
Miso is a fermented paste that is made using rice or soybeans and barley. It is used as a spice to add a nice umami flavor to dishes. It is usually added in soups, but you can also use it in making salad dressings and marinades.
Yogurt is made through milk fermentation. When you eat a yogurt labeled with “live and active cultures,” you are guaranteed with 100 million probiotic cultures per gram. These probiotics can help digest some of the lactose or milk sugar, making it perfect for those who are lactose intolerant.
Sauerkraut is made of cabbage and salt. It is usually used as a topping on hotdogs. It contains a healthy dose of probiotics and fiber. You can find bottles of it in the refrigerated section in stores.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that tastes like yogurt. It is rich in calcium and contains probiotics that help break down lactose. It can be consumed by itself or mixed in smoothies for a more delicious alternative.
Kombucha is a drink that is usually flavored with herbs or fruit. It has a tangy taste and a green or black color. This drink is rich in yeast and bacteria. You can find it in natural food stores and farmers’ markets. Sometimes, a small amount of alcohol is added during its fermentation process. However, if you are not into sour tastes, you might want to find another fermented food.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, and it is similar to tofu. It is a plant-based protein made from soy, and it has a firmer texture. This fermented food also has a firmer texture and a nuttier flavor. It is rich in probiotics, and it contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete source of vegetarian protein.
These are some of the healthiest fermented foods that you can add to your diet. Therefore, if you want to protect and improve your gut’s health, then incorporating fermented foods into your meals might help.