People have been fermenting foods for thousands of years. Fermentation preserves food, enhances flavor, and adds many nutritional benefits. Fermentation is a metabolic process that produces chemical changes in organic substrates through the action of enzymes. Eating fermented food or drinking certain fermented beverages provides many benefits to our bodies. Keep reading to learn more about these benefits and to decide if including fermented foods and drinks into your diet is right for you.
Fermenting Food Increases Nutrient Absorption
The process of fermentation breaks down the nutrients in food which increases their absorption. It is essentially like pre-digesting food, so by the time the food and nutrients enter our bodies, it’s much easier for us to assimilate. The fermentation process also produces enzymes that further help our bodies break down and digest certain nutrients from food.
Fermented Food For Digestive Health
Many fermented foods and drinks contain probiotic bacteria which makes them beneficial for digestive health. Many people have an imbalance of bacteria in their guts and consuming probiotic rich food regularly can help shift this balance back to a healthy state over time. Studies have shown that probiotics decrease the symptoms of digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Some Ideas of Fermented Foods and Drinks to Add Into Your Diet
You may be aware that many alcoholic beverages are created through the process of fermentation, so you may be wondering if these drinks contain the same health benefits as other fermented foods and drinks. Unfortunately, many of these drinks do not carry the same benefits when it comes to probiotics and can be harmful to the liver in excess. But here is a list of some fermented foods and drinks that do contain many health benefits:
- Beet Kvass
Yogurt and kefir are traditionally made with milk, but you can find dairy free versions in the supermarket or even make your own with dairy free milk alternatives. It’s also important to look for sauerkraut in the refrigerated section because the shelf stable kind doesn’t contain the same health benefits. Sauerkraut is made by the process of lacto-fermentation, but you can ferment many different kinds of vegetables! If you’re interested in making your own, check out this recipe.
Are Fermented Foods Right For Everyone?
The process of fermenting foods and drinks creates histamine, and for this reason, consuming fermented products may not be suited for everyone. This is because some people suffer from histamine intolerance, which can be due to liver issues, low levels of the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO), or due to chronic infections that cause mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS). Unfortunately, for these people, consuming fermented foods and drinks is probably not a wise choice, as they will further increase the level of histamine that their bodies have a hard time clearing. But if you don’t suffer from histamine intolerance, you should consider giving fermented food a try!