Finally, we are learning how to incorporate essential nutrition into our diets in a delicious way. Fermented food is a rising star in the health-conscious world and it’s not hard to understand why. Not only are fermented foods high in probiotics and prebiotics, they also bring unique flavors and textures to every dish. Read on to discover a selection of fermented foods and the incredible benefits they possess.
1. Benefits of Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are becoming increasingly popular, and with good reason. Fermented foods have numerous benefits that can improve the overall health of your body and may even lead to a longer life.
Fermented foods are rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. The bacteria also produces B-vitamins during the fermentation process and increases the bioavailability of minerals like magnesium and iron, making them more easily absorbed by your body.
Improves Gut Health
Fermented foods are known to support the health of your gut with ‘good’ bacteria like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. These beneficial bacteria can balance your gut, reduce bloating, and prevent digestive issues. The lactic acid produced through fermentation also helps to break down food and promotes digestive regularity.
- Fermented foods are rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health.
- The bacteria produces B-vitamins during the fermentation process.
- The lactic acid produced through fermentation helps to break down food.
- Fermented foods can balance your gut and reduce bloating.
- Beneficial bacteria helps with digestive regularity.
2. Types of Probiotics & Prebiotics
Probiotics are “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are “non-digestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon”.
The most common types of probiotics are found in yogurts, dairy products, supplement and functional foods such as miso, tempeh and sourdough bread. These microorganisms, typically lactic acid bacteria (LABs) and bifidobacteria, improve gastrointestinal healthy by replacing bad bacteria. Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus are the two most common genera of LABs.
Prebiotics are found in a variety of foods such as onions, garlic, bananas, asparagus and leeks. They are most commonly used as dietary fiber supplements and are also found in certain functional foods and supplements. The most common prebiotics are inulin, FOS, GOS and dietary fiber. Inulin and FOS selectively promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, such as bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. GOS does the same, but it is mostly used as a food additive.
3. Prebiotic-Rich Ferments to Include
Vegetable ferments are the most common, and probably the most easily accessible type of prebiotic-rich ferments available. Sauerkraut is one of the oldest ferments and is a classic from Germany. Kimchi is a more traditional Asian ferment, typically made from cabbage and seasonings. Olives are another popular ferment, and can be used as both a snack or salad topping. Finally, pickles are a great snack and can be added to a variety of dishes, such as hamburgers and sandwiches.
Grain ferments are a great way to add extra fiber, vitamins, and minerals into your diet. Sourdough is a classic, and can be used for everything from bread to pancakes to pizza crusts. Einkorn is an ancient grain that packs a punch of nutrients, such as magnesium, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Bulgur is a type of wheat that is packed with dietary fiber. Finally, buckwheat is a nutrient-dense grain that’s high in fiber and protein.
4. Best Practices for Enjoying Fermented Foods
Fermenting for Deliciousness
Fermented foods offer a delicious and nutritious way to add flavor to your dishes. Here are some best practices for including more fermented foods in your meals:
- Grocery shopping for fermented foods should be done with care – look for brands with best before dates and make sure that the jars are sealed tightly to avoid spoilage.
- In order to maximize flavor, start by building a base of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi. Then, layer the flavor using spices, herbs, and garlic.
- Fermented foods can be enjoyed as snacks, as a condiment, or as a side dish. Many of these foods are full of probiotics and beneficial enzymes that can help with digestion.
Safe Preparation and Consumption
When preparing fermented foods, safety should be a main priority. Here are some tips to ensure your foods remain safe and tasty:
- Consume fermented foods only if they have a good smell and taste. Discard any that appear to have changed in color, texture, or aroma.
- Follow the instructions for preparation carefully. Remember to boil all fermented dishes before you begin the fermentation process.
- Avoid consuming fermented foods if you have a weakened immune system or an underlying health condition. Check with your doctor before adding fermented foods to your routine.
The Way Forward
When it comes to promoting gut health, adding fermented foods to your diet is a great solution. Rich in probiotics and prebiotics, these fermented foods may have many benefits for you – from aiding digestion, to boosting immunity and even helping to regulate moods. With the right combinations, you could be well on your way to harvesting the many rewards these nutritional powerhouses have to offer.