The Benefits of Fermented Foods
The health benefits of fermented foods has been front page news of late with the release of several studies linking gastro-intestinal bacteria levels to mental health and anxiety. The rewards of including probiotic rich, fermented foods in your diet are vast, ranging from immune system resiliency to food budget savings.
Top Five Reasons to Include Fermented Foods in the Diet
- Preserves foods with the Nutrients Intact Through the process of fermentation organisms convert the sugars and starches in food to create alcohol, lactic acid and acetic acid. These bio-preservatives inhibit putrefying bacteria preventing food from spoiling. Through this incredible organic process food remains alive with flavor and peak-season nutrition for months on end without the addition of synthetic additives or high-heat canning processes. Long before refrigeration was the norm Humans depended on fermentation for their food storage needs.
- Increases the Bioavailability of Nutrients As the healthy bacteria reproduce, they produce enzymes whose function is to “pre-digest” food prior to our indulging in it. Fermentation organisms allow the body to reap the full benefits from food without any disruptive nutrient blocking or gastric irritation.
- Creates New Nutrients The microbial cultures working in fermentation do more than simply preserve existing nutrients, they also contribute their own. During their life cycle, fermenting organisms create several B Vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. That simple serving of homemade yogurt is a multi-vitamin in your bowl!
- Increases and Restores Healthy Gut Bacteria Balance We depend on bacteria to digest foods and to create/build effective immune responses. In a world where antibiotics, processed foods and excessive chemical sanitation efforts are so prevalent, emphasizing healthy bacteria levels couldn’t be more essential. Consumption of fermented foods plays an important role in replenishing healthy gut flora for digestive efficiency and immune system building.
- Tastes Good and Inexpensive. Simply put, fermented foods are yummy and cost very little to create! Try incorporating a fermented food at every meal. Sauerkraut with scrambled eggs for breakfast, fermented mustard on your sandwich for lunch, sourdough crackers with fermented nut spread for an afternoon snack. Not only will you be helping your body digest these foods more effectively you will be introducing new nutrients, amplifying your immune system and improving overall digestive function.
Colleen Emery, Master Herbalist and owner of Emery Herbals in Winlaw is passionate about offering access to information that enables individuals and families to be self-sufficient and take charge of their personal wellness.