16 Amazing Benefits of Fermented Foods Exposed by a Nutritionist

The next time you visit your local grocer or market, you may want to pay more attention to the selection of fermented foods available. These foods don’t just make for some unique, tasty offerings. Experts say the benefits of fermented foods are so significant that you are encouraged to eat at least one serving of them daily.

As far as the history of civilizations go, the practice of eating foods that have been fermented is nothing new. It’s not just solid food that has undergone some fermentation, though. Evidence indicates that the process of making beer and wine has been going on for around 7,000 to 8,000 years.

As the years went by, more and more people have also come to discover to ferment a wide range of foods and drinks. This resulted in a host of tasty fermented treats including fruit and vegetable chutney, pickles, salsa, kimchi and sauerkraut.

Clearly, men and women have learned and perfected the process of fermenting foods and drinks, not just to have something uniquely tasteful on the table, but to take advantage of some of its health benefits, too.

Discovering the Benefits of Fermented Foods: Why You Should Enjoy Some Today

fermented foods
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Thanks to many research studies, the large amount of benefits of fermented foods has become widely documented. Lucky for you, you don’t have to go over the numerous medical reports and studies just to discover them all. Below are some of the best benefits of fermentation for your overall health:

1. Fermented Foods Give You a Regular Dose of Microbes. Microbes refer to all kinds of living microscopic organism that remains invisible to the naked eye. Generally, these include bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea, protists and microscopic animals.
Microbes are necessary to producing some of the most enjoyable staples in our diet today, including cheese, pickles and vinegar. As you can see, these are all foods that have already been fermented. It gives our meals a distinct flavor while elevating its taste for our palate. Beyond this, however, microbes also play a crucial role in determining our body’s interaction with food.
Studies have shown that having certain microbes in the body allows you metabolize your food much better. When your metabolism is working properly, you know that you are readily burning every calorie you consume. So long as this is happening, you don’t have to worry too much about putting on weight.

2. Eating Fermented Foods Helps Increase the Micronutrients in Your Body. Don’t be confused by the term. Micronutrients simply refer to minerals and vitamins your body needs to grow and stay healthy. Of all the micronutrients your body should get a dose of daily, the ones that you need the most are vitamin A, folate or folic acid, iodine, iron and zinc.
As one study from the Department of Pediatrics from the University of Jos in Nigeria found, fermented vegetables and other foods tend to have a higher number of micronutrients than those that are not. The study also found that fermenting foods for 72 hours helps enhance the presence of micronutrients already found in the food.
Based on this finding, it is safe to say that consuming fermented foods carries with it a number of advantages, especially when it comes to your daily nutrition. Luckily for you too, there is a long list of fermented foods that you can choose from and enjoy.

vitamin C 3. They Improve Your Body’s Ability to Absorb and Utilize Various Nutrients. Aside from naturally increasing the amounts of micronutrients already present in food, the process of fermenting foods also allows for nutrients to be much more easily absorbed by the body.
According to registered dietician and culinary educator Jill Nussinow, this is because the process of fermentation allows for food to already be pre-digested, thereby making nutrient absorption much easier during the process of digestion. This why cabbage that has already been fermented, for example, has vitamin C that is relatively more bio-available.

4. They Help Improve Your Digestive System. If you have ever found that regular foods are harder for your digestive system to digest, you might want to consider enjoying some fermented foods first.
According to dietitian Sheah L. Rarback who also happens to be the director for nutrition at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, eating foods that have been fermented help restore a body’s colon back into balance.
For some patients suffering from a wide host of health conditions, foods may be hard to digest due to the antibiotics they have been taking. Some older people also find it hard to digest some enzymes. This is where fermented foods come in. They make sure that food, along with all its nutrients, can be readily absorbed by the body.
If you’re wondering which fermented snacks are best to help you with digestions, it’s safe to say that you should first try foods with probiotics in them. When food undergoes fermentation, natural bacteria tend to feed on the starch and sugar that is present in the food, allowing the food to create certain beneficial enzymes, including b-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and several strains of probiotics.
Probiotics refers to the live yeast and bacteria that keeps your digestive system healthy. They also help treat a number of common health problems, such as infectious diarrhea, antibiotic-related diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
Fermented foods that are rich in probiotics include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, natto, raw cheese and a fermented beverage from Eastern Europe known as kvass. Enjoy some of these daily, your stomach will thank you for it.

fermented milk
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5. Fermented Foods are Found to Keep Cancer Away. You might not know it, but fermented foods also play a crucial role when it comes to keeping several forms of cancer away from your body. This is according to several on the subject that have been done in recent years.
To date, there are two studies from the Netherlands and Sweden that the regular consumption of fermented milk products significantly helps reduce the risk of developing cancer of the bladder.
According to the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education, consuming probiotics also helps decrease your body’s exposure to a number of carcinogens you may have ingested from other foods. This, in turn, helps keep your body from developing cancer.

6. They Can Protect You From Heart Disease. Today’s typical diet has made it easier for anyone to become at risk to develop heart disease. For this, you have a host of deep fried favorites, like fried chicken and potato chips to thank. Lucky for you, fermented foods are here to get you back on track of making your heart healthy again.
One of the best reasons why your heart needs you to start consuming fermented foods is because of the rarely acknowledged vitamin k2. Vitamin k2 is responsible for the proper deposit of calcium to the teeth and bones, while also ensuring that calcium doesn’t get deposited into your soft tissues.
A study done back in 1993 also discovered people with healthy levels of vitamin k2 tend to suffer less from calcification of the arteries, as well as heart disease.
One of the best sources of vitamin k2 is a fermented drink known as kombucha. It is said to be a fermented tea that originated from China. According to experts, the benefits of kombucha when it comes to heart health include preventing atherosclerosis and hypertension.

7. Some Fermented Foods Allow You to Enjoy Dairy, Even If You are Lactose Intolerant. If you have never been able to enjoy dairy due to lactose intolerance, then perhaps some fermented foods can change your life.
Lactose refers to a kind of sugar that is typically found in a number of dairy products, including milk. For your intestine to digest it properly, it produces an enzyme known as lactase. When your body is not able to produce lactase, you develop lactose intolerance. Common symptoms of this disorder include nausea, gas, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, headaches and even acne.
Fermented dairy such as yogurt and kefir helps your body digest lactose, protein and fats in lactose a lot better. This means you can enjoy the creaminess of dairy products without having to suffer the harmful signs of lactose intolerance. How about some frozen yogurt now?

gastrointestinal tract8. Fermented Foods Can Give Your Immune System a Good Boost. These foods are able to do this because of the microflora present inside them. These tend to live inside foods that have already undergone fermentation and create a protective lining in the body, so that the body’s intestines will be safe from the likes of e. coli and salmonella.
Fermented foods also tend to maintain a good amount of microflora in your body. Typically, a healthy gastrointestinal tract of an adult would have more than two pounds of microflora. Aside from filling your system with a generous amount of microflora, foods that have been fermented also help increase the amounts of antibodies in the body, leading to a much stronger immune system.

9. Fermented Foods Help Remove Harmful Toxins and Harmful Bacteria From the Other Foods You Eat. Forget about those fad diets that claim to help detox your body. Just buy or make a host of fermented foods at home, and include them in your daily diet.
You may not be aware of it, but the lactic acid present in fermented foods is quite effective when it comes to breaking down pesticides, which you may have consumed while eating your favorite healthy foods, such as a salad featuring various types of greens.
Aside from pesticides, fermented foods have also been found to be effective in helping rid your body of a wide range of detoxifiers. These include the likes of arsenate, aluminum, lead and mercury. The way fermented foods work is that they hold onto these toxic substances until they are safely out of your system by way of your stool.
If you want your body to feel cleaner inside, go ahead and get your daily glass or serving fermented foods.

carbohydrates10. Fermented Food Helps Your Body Produce and Preserve Much Needed Enzymes. On a daily basis, your body is need of a host of different enzymes in order to facilitate the proper digestion of everything that you are putting into your body, such as carbohydrates, protein and fats.
These digestive enzymes don’t just play a key role in making sure that nutrients in food are properly broken down for absorption. They also help make sure that harmful toxins will be removed from the body.
Since enzymes are typically found in raw foods, such as fruits and vegetables, consuming fermented foods regularly means you are also ingesting a healthy number of enzymes. Because of this, you can be sure that your digestive system is working properly all the time. This also happens to be the best way to keep your gut in check.

11. They Give You an Energy Boost. With your digestive system now working better than it ever has, can expect the breakdown of food inside your stomach and absorption of all nutrients to be efficient. Because of this too, you have good bacteria in your gut to make sure that readily absorb carbohydrates such as sugar, fiber and starch.
With the help of the good bacteria, these carbohydrates can be easily converted by your body into nutrients and much needed energy. If you want to feel more active throughout a busy work day, consider taking a serving of any fermented food. One of the easiest food items you can bring to work is yogurt.
Should you have a hard time making or stocking up on fermented foods, you can still enjoy their health benefits through a host of nutritional supplements from manufacturers like Digestive Science, such as the Maximum Digestion Probiotic, Digestive Enzyme Renewal, Intensive Colon Cleanse System and more.

12. They Help Balance Your Hormones. When you’re suffering from hormonal imbalance, you can be dealing with a host of issues including low sex drive, depression, anxiety, digestive problems, fatigue, sudden weight gain, sudden weight loss, hair loss, hair thinning, insomnia, and even infertility.
There are cases when the problem with your hormones may be caused by leaky gut syndrome, a condition that affects your digestive tract. This happens when you undigested food particles that leak from your gut into your bloodstream.
To treat your leaky gut and the hormonal imbalance that comes with it, Dr. Josh Axe recommends that you consume a daily serving of fermented foods, such as kefir and a host of fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut.

eczema13. Fermented Foods Help Make Your Skin Flawless. With fermented foods effectively removing all kinds of harmful toxins from your body, you can also expect to begin seeing positive changes on your skin.
You may suddenly notice that you becoming less and less susceptible to common skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. Thanks to your daily diet of fermented foods, your skin is not just flawless, it is also glowing. This is because, these foods have also brought about some repair and healing in your connective tissue. That is why you are now completely blemish free.

14. They Help Treat Current Inflammation in the Body. Although inflammation is the body’s natural way of protecting itself, there are cases when inflammation can lead to further inflammation, and that does your body more harm than good. Some of the deadliest diseases today are linked to chronic inflammation, including heart disease, obesity and cancer.
To prevent an inflammation from going from bad to worse, it helps to include some fermented foods into your daily diet. Fermented vegetables especially have been found to do an effective job when it comes to fighting off chronic inflammation. Since a good number of inflammatory disease begin in your gut, it helps to eat fermented foods to keep them away.
Inflammation in the body can also be caused by a number of harmful toxins that get inside you through food. Since fermented foods and drinks do a great job at making sure these toxins get flushed out, you have a much less risk of suffering from chronic inflammation.

15. They Can Cure Certain Food Allergies. You may not know it but the combination of every day stress, prescription medication and regular consumption of several genetically modified foods may have caused you to have a leaky guy by doing some damage to your intestinal tract. This, in turn, caused you have some nasty food allergies.
In this case, treating your food allergy or sensitivity may simply require the regular consumption of several fermented foods and drinks. They may help to fix your leaky gut right up, so that your digestive system will now be able to tolerate certain foods a whole lot better.

antidepressants
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16. Fermented Foods Can Put You In a Better Mood. If you have been feeling down or depressed lately, you might want to hold off on taking some antidepressants and try having some fermented foods instead.
The bacterial composition in a person’s gut is known as the microbiome and its very health is strongly linked to a person’s mental health. Studies have even found that that a patient’s microbiome plays a significant role when it comes to their anxiety and depression. This is because the microbiome can help modulate an individual’s stress responses, while also influencing their neurotransmitter serotonin.
This is why experts believe that taking a probiotic supplement or eating some fermented foods can help a person’s mental health, while also relieving any symptoms of anxiety and depression. Aside from this, foods that have undergone fermentation are rich in vitamins and minerals that can improve a person’s mood. These include zinc, magnesium and a whole range of B vitamins.

Creating Delicious Meals Out of Fermented Foods

With all the amazing benefits of fermented foods, it’s time to think about how to make sure you consume then regularly. Here are some delicious recipes that you can readily prepare, so that you can regularly experience the benefits of fermentation in your body:

Fermented Watermelon Radish

Ingredients

  • watermelon radish
    Photo by Karen / CC BY

    450 grams of watermelon radish, sliced thinly

  • Two teaspoons of sea salt
  • Two to three tablespoons of filtered water
  • One to two tablespoons of sauerkraut juice or whey

How to Make It:

  • Sprinkle some salt on the sliced watermelon radish.
  • Squeeze them firmly for about one to two minutes using your hands.
  • Put them slices into the mason jar, pressing them down as you put them inside.
  • Pour over the water and sauerkraut juice or whey.
  • Ferment the radish for one to four weeks before enjoying.

Homemade Dill Pickles

Ingredients:

  • Cucumbers
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Two sprigs of fresh dill
  • One half teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • One half teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • One fourth teaspoon of whole peppercorns
  • One eighth teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • Two cups of fresh water
  • One tablespoon of sea salt

How to Make It:

  • cucumbersSlice your cucumbers to your desired shape and size before packing them into a jar. Make sure you pack them tightly.
  • Add all the spices into the jar. You can also add other ingredients, such as oak, grape or cherry leaves.
  • Combine the water and sea salt together. Stir until the salt is completely dissolved.
  • Pour the salted water over your cucumber slices, make sure every piece is submerged well.
  • Seal the jar and leave the cucumbers to ferment for about three days.
  • When the pickles are already fermented the way you like them, put them inside the fridge to stop the fermentation process.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Ingredients

  • Two medium cabbage heads, cored and shredded
  • Two tablespoons of unrefined sea salt

How to Make It:

  • cabbageToss the cabbage shreds together with the salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Squeeze them together so that the cellular structure of the cabbage breaks down completely.
  • Once the cabbage becomes limp and releases some juice, transfer the sauerkraut into a fermenter.
  • Pack them tightly to eliminate any air bubbles.
  • Submerge the cabbage completely in liquid.
  • Cover the sauerkraut and let sit at room temperature for at least a month to six months, or until it has fermented to your liking.
  • Transfer the sauerkraut to your refrigerator afterwards. It should keep well for six months to a year.

The next time that you are craving for something yummy and satisfying to munch on, consider snacking on a healthy assortment of fermented vegetables and other foods. The amazing benefits of fermented foods mean that you are doing more for your body than just satisfying your appetite. So go ahead and enjoy the benefits of fermentation on your health today.