The Benefits of Fermented Foods

By Sara Butler

You’ve probably eaten some fermented foods you didn’t even realize were fermented! If you’ve ever enjoyed a Reuben sandwich with sauerkraut or some miso soup, then you’ve entered into the wonderful world of fermented foods. These foods are tasty and have quite a few health benefits, too. Here are some of the key benefits you can take advantage of by adding fermented foods to your diet.

What Are Fermented Foods?

Fermented foods have been eaten for thousands of years, quite simply because it was a way for your ancient ancestors to keep food preserved. Fermented foods have cultures of microbes living in them that help to keep the food from spoiling without the help of canning or refrigeration.

A few examples of fermented foods are:

  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Pickles

Stress and Digestion

If you’re under a lot of stress at work or at home, it can have a negative impact on your health – specifically on your digestive system. If you have digestive symptoms brought on by stress, then fermented foods might just help to get you back on track. Nutrition research has found some of the probiotics found in fermented foods, such as Bifidobacterium longum and Lactobacillus acidophilus can help to reduce any digestive symptoms you may be having such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Flatulence

These probiotics aren’t going to help with other symptoms of stress, but they are a start to help get your body back on track.

Improve Mineral Absorption

The bacteria that call your digestive system home can help you to better absorb minerals from your food. There are certain enzymes people don’t naturally have, but these bacteria do. So, if you eat something, such as nuts, the bacteria in your gut can help to break down the phytic acid contained within them. Phytic acid is known as an “anti-nutrient” meaning it bonds with calcium, iron, and other nutrients to block their absorption. Healthy bacteria in your gut can break down the phytic acid, allowing you to absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat.

Predigestion

The benevolent bacteria contained within fermented foods help to do some of the work of digestion for you. Cabbage, milk, beans and soybeans are difficult for your system to digest. The fermentation process gives the bacteria a head start in digesting them for you, so it makes it easier for you to digest these foods and reap the benefits.

If you’re not into fermented foods, it’s worth it to give them a try for your health!

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