Fermented foods are having a moment – fermented food consumption increased 149% in 2018. From kimchi to kombucha to miso paste, consumers are demanding more fermentation in their lives.
While fermented foods do take some getting used to, there are numerous benefits of fermented foods, which have become public knowledge within the last decade or so. Eden Foods reviews more about the benefits of fermented foods below.
The Fermentation Process
Fermentation has been around since humans started preserving the milk of animals (around 10,000 BC). When put in the right climate, milk ferments and becomes yogurt, which was first documented in North Africa. Historians have also found evidence of fermentation from neolithic China and ancient Egypt.
What exactly is fermentation though? According to Eden Foods, fermentation is the “transformation and preservation of food by bacteria.” When certain conditions are met (such as temperature and light), it kickstarts a bacterial reaction that results in the fermentation of food.
Beneficial For Human Gut Bacteria
One of the biggest, and most talked about, benefits of fermented food are the benefits to the human gut biome. The stomach is an amazing organ and contains ten times more bacteria than the number of human cells.
The stomach bacteria work to break down food, process the nutrients, and discard any unnecessary materials. Fermented foods provide some important bacteria that help with these processes.
Many products nowadays are labeled as probiotic, but it is more than just a buzzword. They provide microorganisms that benefit gut health. When consumed, probiotics help digest food and destroy bad bacteria. They are similar to the bacteria that can already be found in the gut, so they work together well.
There have been some studies that show that probiotics can influence the immune system and actually help fend off disease. There is no definitive proof of this but it’s exciting as more research is being done.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are food compounds that help the beneficial gut bacteria multiply. They are made up of fructans, galatans, inulins, and other helpful materials. Prebiotics do not break down while going through the intestines, so they end up fermenting in the large intestine. While this might sound harmful, it actually provides fuel for beneficial bacteria.
One benefit that has become more popularized in recent years is that prebiotics increases the feeling of fullness and is good for weight management. Some popular prebiotics include garlic, onions, asparagus, and bananas.
Antibiotics are used by many medical professionals to treat bacterial infections. The issue? Antibiotics ravage the gut biome and can cause serious damage to the beneficial bacteria. Eating more fermented foods can help build back the bacteria and counteract the harmful effects of antibiotics.
Assists With Vitamin Production
Another benefit of eating more fermented foods is that it helps with the production of certain vitamins. All human bodies need specific vitamins to function normally and sometimes it’s hard to get them with just food alone, especially for people that are vegetarians or vegans.
Fermented foods can help synthesize a lot of the B vitamins, including vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, and vitamin K.