6 Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
We’ve been going crazy over fermented foods for quite some time now. In fact, if you look back, cultures have been fermenting seasonal produce for as long as we can remember. But they’re not just for adding extra color, flavor, or crunch to a meal (although these are all tasty bonuses)... There are widespread health benefits associated with a daily dose of these foods. Discover 6 health benefits of fermented foods I’ve researched here, and let me know the one that surprises you most in the comments below.
1. Contributes to Good Gut Bacteria
During the fermentation process, lactic acid is produced, which is needed to promote the growth of healthy gut flora in the intestine. Our gut microbiome is a complex system that is made up of so many different bacteria - and some of them are actually good for us! A healthy balance (with more of the good than the bad) is a leading contributor to thriving health, including a well-supported immune system.
2. Promotes Healthy Digestion
Thriving digestion is crucial for everyday health, as it’s needed for digesting the nutrients absorbed from our diets. An important player in good digestion is the production of the right enzymes, which are used to break down the foods into building blocks for the body. Fermented foods produce these in the fermentation process, which contributes to thriving flora.
3. Increases Vitamin Intake
Fermented foods are a rich dietary source of the essential micronutrients, especially the vitamins A, C, and K2 (a cancer-fighting compound). Lactic acid enhances a food's digestibility and increases vitamin C and vitamin A levels. Vitamin C is critical for so many functions in the body, including collagen production for supple skin, immunity, and it has anti-cancer properties! Plus vitamin A helps to regulate cell growth and support your eyes. K2 is a special vitamin that can be difficult to source in the diet, especially in plant foods where you won't find much-preformed K2, unless those plant foods have been fermented or otherwise transformed by bacteria or other microorganisms. K2 has shown particular efficacy in fighting prostate cancer.
4. Reduces Natural Sugars in Foods
We all love kombucha, and praise it for the health food it is, but it’s perhaps the best example of the relationship between fermented foods and sugar. The fermentation process quite literally eats the sugars alive, as the bacteria use it as a source of energy. To make it even tastier, the longer a food has been fermented, the less sugar content it has! Fermented foods are a beautiful way to boost your nutrient intake, while still keeping those sugars low.
5. Makes You Happier
Fermentation leaves foods with a rich source of probiotics, which are just some of the gut bacteria we love, and they also have a profound effect on the brain. The probiotics found in these foods affect neurotransmitters by lowering stress hormones in the brain. Plus the bacteria in our gut are responsible for around 80-90% of the body’s serotonin production, the happy hormone, so a daily dose may be the best thing for your brain.
6. Reduces Inflammation
Along with all the other marvellous benefits of gut bacteria, they also play a role in reducing inflammation in the body. Evidence suggests that fermented foods can improve some clinical features including inflammatory biomarkers, including CRP, IL-6, TNF-α [, ], and play a role in anti-inflammatory processes.
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