Fermented Foods 101

Fermented Foods 101

By now it's pretty common knowledge that fermented foods are great for supporting a healthy gut. What's less well known is why. Well, let's fix that. Here's a crash course in everything you need to know about what fermented foods are, why they're great for your gut, and how you can work more of them into your diet.

What are fermented foods?

Fermentation has been used for millennia as a way to preserve foods. It's used to make everything from cheese to wine to kimchi. The actual chemical process is complex and outside the scope of this blog, but here's the quick version: fermentation happens when microorganisms break down sugars and starches in food. This process allows foods to last longer, it gives them a unique taste, and in some cases makes them more nutritious. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics. If you're motivated to have a healthy gut, it makes a lot of sense to add fermented foods to your diet.

Why should I eat fermented foods?

All those probiotics made during the fermentation process are a big help to your gut. Replenishing your microbiome helps reverse some of the damage done by a standard western diet. Here are just a few of the ways fermented foods can help:

  • Digestion: Beneficial bacteria helps your body break down food. They'll help break down complex carbohydrates, allowing you to get the most out of what you eat.
  • Immunity: A healthy gut leads to a healthy immune system. Harmful bacteria have trouble thriving in an environment that is well populated by beneficial biotics.
  • Nutrition: Fermentation helps increase the amount of available vitamins in a food, including vitamins B and C. The process also helps your body absorb more folic acid, niacin, and riboflavin.
  • Balance: Fermented foods help swing the balance of good to harmful bacteria in your favor. This goes on to affect your body in dozens of ways, including better digestion, fewer inflammatory conditions, and even better mental and emotional health.

Where can I find fermented foods?

Not sure where to get started in adding fermented foods to your diet? Here are a few options that are easy to find:

  • Sauerkraut: Shredded cabbage + lactic acid + time = a delicious condiment that's full of helpful bacteria
  • Kimchi: A Korean take on fermented cabbage. Full of flavor and probiotics, it's a heck of a side dish.
  • Kefir: A fermented dairy drink, kefir offers your body plenty of helpful bacteria. It also helps digestion in other ways, including supporting your body's ability to digest lactose.
  • Kombucha: A drink that comes from fermenting tea. It's light, fizzy, and flavorful. And because it's growing in popularity, it's easy to find tons of flavors at most grocery stores.
  • Greens Powder: Okay, okay, this isn't exactly a fermented food, but its benefits are extremely similar. Use a greens powder to easily support your body with additional nutrients, enzymes, and probiotics. It's an easy, fast, and tasty way to support great health.  

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