Currently, fermented foods are becoming more common in regular diets all over the world, constituting between 5% and 40% of the human diet.
Many regions have their own, traditional fermented foods such as yogurt, cheeses, crème fraîche, or soy sauce. There are also many drinks, like kefir (fermented milk), kombucha (fermented tea), beer, and wine. Other examples are miso from Japan (fermented soybeans), kimchi from South Korea (fermented spicy cabbage), and sauerkraut from Germany (fermented cabbage). And these are just a few of the many examples!
People around the world have eaten fermented foods for centuries. However, in recent times it has become much more popular, perhaps because of its known digestive benefits. What are the benefits of eating fermented foods? In this article, we’ll tell you.
The benefits of eating fermented foods
Overall, there are many possible benefits of including different types of fermented foods, including:
- They’re more nutritious and digestible foods. Since bacteria have already done part of the digestion of the foods that we eat, this makes it easier to digest these foods.
- Fermentation increases the number of important vitamins, like vitamin K, which is hard to find in unfermented foods. Vitamin K is a key vitamin for coronary and bone health, as well as for the prevention of certain types of cancer.
- They help support your immune system. Remember that 70% of your defenses are in the intestines. A poor microbiome here can increase the risk of many diseases.
- Different fermented foods provide different bacteria, increasing your gut biodiversity. More diversity in your microbiome is linked to fewer health risks.
Additional benefits of eating fermented foods
Fermented foods can have many health benefits, not just for basic nutrition. Scientists continue to investigate exactly how they influence the body and health. However, here’s just a few they’ve discovered so far:
- Fermented milk products can contribute to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Eating yogurt is associated with healthy body weight and protection from type 2 diabetes.
- Fermentation can improve the quality and digestion of proteins, and increase the vitamin B and vitamin C contents of food. Additionally, it can help you absorb different minerals, like iron and zinc.
- Plus, for some people, fermented foods are easier to digest. For example, this includes people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or those who are lactose intolerant. The bacteria used to make yogurt make the lactose easier to digest.
- Some fermented foods contain live microorganisms, some of which are probiotics and can promote intestinal health. The number of microorganisms in the intestines increases when you eat fermented foods. Thus, this may be beneficial to your intestinal health.
Should I eat fermented foods for my health?
Overall, fermented foods have been part of the human diet for centuries. Many health experts say that they positively impact your health in many different ways. Thus, more and more food guides promote regularly eating these foods.
If you’ve never tried any fermented foods, you can start by putting yogurt in smoothies, eating a bowl of miso soup at lunch, having sauerkraut with your dinner, having some sourdough toast with cheese, or drinking some refreshing kefir. Keep in mind that fermented foods can add different and interesting flavors and textures to your diet.
In conclusion, eating fermented foods can have health benefits, although we do still need more research. No matter what, to maintain a proper balance, you should always strive to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.