Adding more naturally fermented foods to your diet is one of the most simple and effective ways to improve your overall health!
What is Fermentation Again?
Okay, so most of us have probably heard the term multiple times and likely learned about it in science class back in the day- but don’t worry if you have no clue what it actually entails! By definition, fermentation is “a metabolic process in which an organism converts a carbohydrate, such as starch or a sugar, into an alcohol or an acid.”1
The fermentation of foods is a very ancient preservation process which can provide the body with a whole slew of health benefits. When a food is fermented, it undergoes a transformation by action of micro-organisms. This micro-organism activity produces “probiotics” (aka healthy bacteria) that can feed the gut micro biome to promote a healthier gut flora.
How do Fermented Foods Support our Health?
- Improve digestion: the probiotic bacteria found in fermented foods feed the “good bacteria” found in our guts. These bacteria then go on to help break down food within the intestines. They also help to increase enzymatic activity within our bodies
- Strengthen the Immune System: 70% of our immune cells are located in our guts. Improving our digestion through fermented foods provides the immune system with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. Not only this, the gut acts as an additional line of defence against disease
- Boost Mood and Mental Health: 90% of serotonin (the “feel good” hormone) is produced in your gut. Improving gut health through the addition of fermented foods goes on to provide the brain with what it needs to function optimally.
- Increases Nutrient Availability: Fermented foods are much more bio available, helping the body to access and utilize the nutrients within fermented foods much more effectively than that same food that is not fermented
- Produces Additional Nutrients: The process of fermentation creates additional B vitamins such as biotin, thiamin, niacin, and folic acid
Lack of Fermented Foods in Today’s Day?
In today’s day there are often 2 main reasons why people no longer include fermented foods in their diet.
- Taste: A lot of people have trouble enjoying fermented foods as the taste is too astringent or strong for them. This is totally understandable as we live in a world where sugar and salt are the primary flavours fed to us from a very young age. If this is you, be patient, start with small amounts, and don’t be afraid to experiment with trying different types. There are tons of fermented food options out there and a lot of them take time to get used to. Don’t write them all off if sauerkraut and kombucha had you gagging the first time you smelt them!
- Time: We live in a fast pace world and the process of natural fermentation is the exact opposite of this. Natural fermentation takes time and patience. For example, pickles are now often produced with vinegar, sugar, heat, and nasty preservatives to by pass the time it takes to naturally ferment them using just salt and time. This is so unfortunate as imitation ferments not only lack the healthy probiotics produced through natural fermentation, most of the ingredients used in imitation ferments act as acid forming in our bodies and kill the good bacteria within our guts.
Some Common Ferments
Fermented foods are common in almost every ancient culture. For example; Korean fermented food = kimchi, Japan = miso, India = Idli. Here are a few of my favourite ferments:
- Tempeh (fermented soy beans)
- Miso (for soup or dressings)
- Kombucha (the perfect substitute to pop or beer)
- Naturally fermented pickles
- Sourdough bread (one of my all time favourite foods)!
- Dosas (fermented Indian lentil pancakes)
- Yogurt (I recommend dairy free or goat)
- Nut based cheeses (Miyokos is my fave brand)
How to get Fermented Foods into Your Life?
- Make it your goal to include at least 1 fermented food a day! Eventually you can aim to have at least 1 fermented food at each meal. This could look like: sauerkraut with your eggs and toast in the morning, a miso dressing on your salad at lunch, and grilled tempeh with your quinoa veggie bowl for dinner
- Only buy naturally fermented foods (NO imitation pickles)! Most of the time you can only find naturally fermented pickles or saurkrauts in the refrigerator section of the grocery store. Avoid buying any shelf stable pickled products or any ones that contains vinegar, sugar, or preservatives.
- Join one of my fermented foods workshops: I offer all sorts of different kinds throughout the year. Stay connected with me on Instagram to find out when my next one is going to be!
Note: I should mention that although fermented foods are truly amazing for most people, this is not the case for all people. There are certain underlying health conditions that might make it difficult for people to feel well when they incorporate fermented foods. It is important to work with a health care professional if this might be the case for you.