Fermented Foods & How They Benefit Your Body
Fermentation is an ancient technique of preserving food. The process is still used today to produce foods like wine, cheese, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha. Fermented foods are rich in beneficial probiotics and have been associated with a range of health benefits — from better digestion to stronger immunity.
Fermentation is a natural process through which microorganisms like yeast and bacteria convert carbs — such as starch and sugar — into alcohol or acids. The alcohol or acids act as a natural preservative and give fermented foods a distinct zest and tartness. Fermentation also promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics. Probiotics have been shown to improve immune function as well as digestive and heart health.
A number of health benefits are associated with fermentation. In fact, fermented foods are often more nutritious than their unfermented form. Here are the key health benefits of fermented foods:
Improves Digestive Health
The probiotics produced during fermentation can help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in your gut and may alleviate some digestive problems. Evidence suggests that probiotics can reduce uncomfortable symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common digestive disorder. Additionally, fermented foods may also lessen the severity of diarrhea, bloating, gas, and constipation.
Boosts Your Immune System
The bacteria that live in your gut have a significant impact on your immune system. Due to their high probiotic content, fermented foods can give your immune system a boost and reduce your risk of infections like the common cold. What's more, many fermented foods are rich in Vitamin C, iron, and zinc -- all of which are proven to contribute to a stronger immune system.
Makes Food Easier to Digest
Fermentation helps break down nutrients in food, making them easier to digest than their unfermented counterparts. For example, lactose - the natural sugar in milk - is broken down during fermentation into simpler sugars - glucose and galactose. As a result, those with lactose intolerance are generally fine eating fermented dairy like yogurt!
Other Potential Benefits
Studies have shown that fermented foods may also promote:
- Mental Health: A few studies have linked the probiotic strains Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum to a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression. Both probiotics are found in fermented foods.
- Heart Health: Fermented foods have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Probiotics may also modestly reduce blood pressure and help lower total and "bad" LDL cholesterol.
To sum it up ... Fermented foods have been associated with several positive health effects, including improved digestive health, stronger immunity, and increased availability of beneficial nutrients. Check out what fermented goodies Michigan Farm to Family has available: Sauerkrauts, Kimchi & Hot Sauce or Yogurt