Traditional fermented foods are known for potent smells and strong flavors. Through a process known as lacto fermentation, these foods contain lactic acid that is created when natural bacteria consume sugar and starch.
Fermentation dates back thousands of years and offers a variety of health benefits. Foods like Korean kimchi and German sauerkraut contain powerful enzymes and an array of probiotics. Unfortunately, food technology continues to substitute these traditional staples with empty pasteurized replacements. Here are a few notable reasons to consider incorporating more tradition back into your regular diet.
1. More Probiotics
Not all bacteria are bad. In fact, probiotics are actually beneficial to your health. These live bacteria and yeasts help to regulate the levels inside your digestive system. Fermented foods are great for relieving pain caused by too little or too much stomach acid. When hydrochloric acid levels are low, fermented foods raise the acidity in your stomach. Likewise, in the presence of too much acid, probiotics shield the lining of your stomach and intestines.
2. More Bang for Your Buck
Not only do fermented drinks and foods contain added nutrients, but they also increase the value of your overall diet. With more enzymes and a better balanced gut, you absorb more nutrients from the other foods you eat.
Opting for foods like sauerkraut and buttermilk also increases your body’s production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This stimulates bowel movement and can help relive constipation and other discomforts associated with digestion
3. Diabetic Relief
When you suffer with diabetes, your pancreas is hard at work. Fortunately, the carbohydrates that exist in many fermented foods have actually been broken down to ease the digestive process and relieve the pancreas.
4. Out With the Pathogens
Acid serves to inhibit the proliferation of many pathogenic bacteria. In other words, foods like kimchi and kefir can actually kill harmful bacteria that invade your body. This was seen first hand during the European typhoid fever outbreak of the 1950s. Researchers discovered that sauerkraut was actually an effective solution for killing off the invading bacteria.
5. Easy Preservation
While traditional canning effectively preserves your vegetables, meats and fruits, lacto-fermentation allows for even longer storage periods. Vinegar-pickled vegetables, for example, will typically stay fresh in a refrigerator for days or weeks. Fermented pickles, however, tend to last months before going bad.
6. Money Savings
When it comes to health foods, high value often correlates with high prices. This is not always the case with fermented options. In fact, you can even create some of these concoctions yourself at home with a little salt and knowhow.
7. Excitement for Foodies
One of the most enjoyable benefits of eating fermented foods is having the chance to sample something unique, exotic or out of the ordinary. Fermentation usually adds a signature aroma, a definitive flavor and a taste that is relatively easy to acquire for those who may initially turn away. Here are a few of the most popular options:
Sauerkraut: this German-born dish is made from cabbage and salt. In fact, its direct English translation is “sour cabbage.” Some variations add in carrots or other vegetables, and most varieties feature leuconostoc, lactobacillus and pediococcus lactic acid bacteria.
Kimchi: this is the Korean version of sour cabbage and typically includes radish, cucumber, scallion and a considerable amount of fiery spice.
Sourdough: popular in breads, sourdough is made with cultivated yeast and the sour taste of lactobacilli.
Fermented bean curd: essentially preserved tofu, this popular East Asian dish is typically seasoned with brine and a variety of spices.
Yogurt: this is simply cultured milk made from streptococcus thermophilus and lactobacillus bulgaricus. While most common yogurts contain sweeteners, thickeners and other additives, you can easily find naturally plain varieties in most grocery stores.
Kefir: a drinkable yogurt that usually contains more strains of bacteria.
Miso: Commonly served as a soup, miso is highly regarded in Japan as a food that provides health and longevity. Made with a koji culture, it usually contains rice, soybean or barely extract.
If you struggle with digestive problems or are simply looking for more ways to create a healthy diet, consider the benefits of traditional fermentation. The key is to incorporate small amounts on a regular basis. Should you find yourself struggling with some undesirable tastes, consider the supplements that are sourced from these natural processes. At PurMedica, we specialize natural, effective and safe nutraceutical products that hone in on those traditional methods that kept communities healthy for thousands of years.