If you’re trying to eat healthier, you’ve probably heard that you should be eating fermented foods. Up until a year or so ago, if someone told me to eat fermented foods, my response would be what are fermented foods. Really, I had no idea, even though I eat sauerkraut all the time.
What are fermented foods?
So, what are fermented foods and why should you be eating them? In very simple terms, fermentation is a way of preserving foods during which starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted into lactic acid by the many species of lactic-acid-producing bacteria. You can read more about the process by visiting the Westin A Price Foundation web site. It’s an easy, and very safe, process to do yourself at home.
You can ferment just about anything. At this moment, I’ve got some carrots, radish, and onions fermenting. I’ve been enjoying fermented green beans and onions for the last few weeks. And my neighbor makes the best sauerkraut!
You can ferment beans, cheese, milk—pretty much anything. I haven’t ventured beyond vegetables yet, but I’m loving the results so much it’s only a matter of time.
Why should you eat fermented foods?
There are many reasons to eat fermented foods. Here are just a few of them.
1. Fermented foods restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut.
Gut health is a huge issue in our country. The fact is, our bodies need bacteria. Specifically, the lactobacilli in fermented foods. If you have a food intolerance, suffer from chronic constipation, have asthma, and more, you may have a lack of good bacteria in your gut.
2. Raw, fermented foods are rich in enzymes.
Your body needs enzymes to properly digest, absorb, and make full use of your food, and raw, fermented foods have them in spades. This is important especially as you age and your body’s enzyme supply decreases. The key is they must be raw—cooking kills the enzymes (so, that saurkraut in the can? Not raw. Not beneficial).
3. Fermented foods improve digestion.
Fermenting foods starts the digestive process, making them easier to digest and giving your more nutritional benefit from the food.
4. Eating fermented food helps you absorb nutrients.
Without the ability to absorb them, nutrients don’t do you much get. So, getting back to benefit #1, improving your gut health will help you absorb nutrients.
What are fermented foods found in the store?
In addition to those four health reasons for eating fermented foods, they just plain taste good! And they are really easy to make on your own. But if you’re not ready to do that yet, you can go to your local health food store and find plenty of options.
- Real sourdough bread
- Pickles, sauerkraut, salsa, ketchup, sour cream, kim chi, mayonnaise and other naturally fermented condiments in the refrigerator section. Look for labels that say “Active cultures”—this means it’s fermented.
So what are fermented foods? A tasty and great addition to your healthy diet.