Although many of the benefits of fermented foods have been known for hundreds – if not thousands – of years, more recently there has been a focus on this category that has placed those advantages in the spotlight. Plain yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, and even several forms of strong, aged cheese are all common types of this food that have powerful flavors and smells and health advantages to match.
It is a greater focus on the importance of probiotics that has led to the benefits of fermented foods making it back into mainstream knowledge.
Now, due to the good bacteria, and other natural processes in the body becoming better understood, those stinky foods that had never seemed all that glamorous are gaining a level of celebrity status.
The benefits of fermented foods are a result of the fermentation process, itself. More specifically, it comes from what is called lactofermentation, where bacteria naturally found in the foods will consume the starch and sugars from those foods, producing lactic acid. The outcome of this process is an effective natural preservative, as well as the creation of B vitamins, helpful digestive enzymes, a number of strains of probiotics and even Omega-3s.
When food is naturally fermented, the nutrients within it are effectively preserved, while the food itself reaches a state that is easier for the body to digest. Therefore, while this not only gives your digestive system itself a boost so that it will be healthier and more effective, it also provides food that your body will break down more easily, making it simpler to obtain the nutrients within it.
Many people experience a range of digestive benefits by incorporating different fermented ingredients into their meals and snacks. This is something that can be said about the fermented foods that have been traditionally made around the world, unlike the processed foods that have resulted from our technological advancements. While many people believe they’re receiving the benefits of fermentation when they eat pickles out of a jar from the store shelf, unfortunately, the pasteurization of those shelf-stable products causes the probiotics and enzymes to die and break down.
The more traditional process is typically required to ensure the best possible benefit from these foods. On a budget, many of these foods can be made at home, extremely cheaply. That said, many organic grocery stores and even certain mainstream grocers are now stocking a growing number of these items on their shelves.