Fermentation is a process that has been used for centuries to preserve food. But what many people don’t know is that fermentation also has some amazing health benefits.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of fermentation, what fermented foods are best for you, and tips on getting more of it in your diet.
What is Fermentation?
Fermentation is a unique process that can be used to produce all sorts of delicious products, from sauerkraut and kefir to kimchi and miso. But what exactly is fermentation? Put simply, fermentation is the process of using yeast or bacteria to convert sugars into alcohol or acids.
This process can occur naturally or be induced by adding yeast or bacteria to a sugar-rich solution. The yeast or bacteria eat the sugars during fermentation and produce alcohol or acids as a waste product. The end result is a delicious food or drinks full of flavor and nutrients!
8 Health Benefits of Fermentation
Fermentation is not only a great way to preserve food, but it also has some impressive health benefits. The fermentation process helps break down the food, making it easier for the body to digest and absorb the nutrients. In addition, fermentation provides beneficial bacteria that can help improve gut health.
1. Improves Digestibility of Foods
Fermentation transforms nutrients into more readily consumed forms. When lactobacilli grow in fermented foods, their vitamin levels rise, and digestibility improves. Soybeans are indigestible without fermentation because of their high protein content. Fermentation deconstructs the soybeans' complex protein into simple amino acids that are easily absorbed, giving us ingredients such as miso, tempeh, and soy sauce.
Many individuals find that milk is difficult to digest fully. Lactose, the sugar in milk that many people are intolerant to, is converted by bacteria present in fermented dairy products into digestible lactic acid. In a study from France, women who consumed fermented milk with Bifidobacterium lactis reported improved gastrointestinal digestive symptoms.
2. Suppresses H. pylori
- pylori infection (Helicobacter pylori) is a significant risk factor for various gastrointestinal problems. Certain fermented foods can aid H. pylori suppression.
A study published in 2014 found that people who ate fermented dairy on a daily basis, such as yogurt and kefir, had a lower risk of H. pylori infection than those who did not eat it at all. This concurs with previous findings from other studies that fermented milk relieves gastrointestinal problems in individuals who tested positive for H. pylori infection.
3. Has Anticancer Effects
Cancer is caused by genes that control cell growth and division becoming activated or mutated. Probiotic cultures and fermented foods are thought to reduce chemical carcinogen intake.
Several reports show how fermented foods can help treat cancer:
- In the Netherlands and Sweden, researchers have discovered that frequent consumption of fermented dairy products lowers the incidence of bladder cancer.
- Lactobacillus strains excrete harmful heavy metals and heterocyclic aromatic amines, carcinogens produced by overcooking meat.
- Kimchi, a fermented cabbage dish, has microbes that break down organophosphorus pesticides and sodium nitrate, a cancer-causing preservative found in food preservatives.
4. Enhances Bioavailability of Nutrients
Fermentation has been shown to increase the availability, digestibility, and amount of certain nutrients, such as B vitamins, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, and biotin. The bioavailability of fat and protein is also improved by bacterial enzymatic hydrolysis; lactic acid bacteria produce SCFAs (short-chain fatty acids) and, when absorbed, may aid in the prevention of pathological changes in the colonic mucosa. They are important for maintaining a proper pH level in the gut, which is essential for bacterial enzymes and carcinogen and foreign chemical metabolism.
5. Reduces Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
Lactobacillus feeds on lactose in milk and converts it to lactic acid, which is easier for individuals to digest. This might be because the lactic acid bacteria present in the milk boost the amount of lactase in the small intestine. Lactic acid found in yogurt helps relieve the signs of lactose intolerance in people lacking the enzyme lactase.
6. Helps Treat Hepatic Disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is when extra fat builds up in the liver cells independent of alcohol intake. Liver inflammation, scarring, and even cancer or organ failure can be caused by liver disease.
In a double-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial, participants who consumed 300 grams per day of fermented probiotic yogurt containing lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium lactis for eight weeks had lower alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, total cholesterol, and low lipoprotein cholesterol compared to the control group. Reduced levels of these parameters may aid in the management of liver disease risk factors.
7. Improves Arthritis Symptoms
Arthritis is a disease that affects a large percentage of the population. It is the most common cause of disability, with joint pains, stiffness, and swelling as its symptoms. Fermented foods are believed to help regulate inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
“Patients with at least four swollen and four tender joints and stable medications with no steroids for at least one month before and during the study showed a significant improvement in the Health Assessment Questionnaire score after three months of probiotic treatment, ”according to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial of probiotics.
8. Treats Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Fermented milk supplemented with probiotics might have an immediate effect on the gut in the management of inflammatory and functional bowel disorders. Probiotics assist patients with inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease, reducing abdominal discomfort, bloating, constipation, and flatulence.
The Best Fermented Foods
Fortunately, getting more fermented foods into your system is easy, and many options are available.
The best fermented foods include:
The Best Fermented Supplements
Besides foods, there are some fermented supplements on the market that provide excellent sources of probiotics and health benefits as well.
This vegan-friendly formula includes four types of air-dried greens, including fermented organic barley grass; fermented organic oat grass; fermented organic kale; and fermented organic chlorella. Learn more about Green Power.
Red Beet Power
Our Organic & Fermented Beetroot Powder not only provides you all the wonderful benefits of Beetroot but also provides extra probiotic support to your gut as the fermentation process creates healthy bacteria to help your gut flora thrive. Learn more about Red Beet Power.
This revolutionary formula is highly absorbent, meaning you get the full benefit. It includes the probiotic-fermented organic turmeric rhizome and organic fermented ginger powder, both in their full spectrum state. This is coupled with the signature probiotic fermented delivery system, meaning you get the maximum bioavailability, digestion, and absorption that it has to offer. Learn more about Turmeric Power.
Fermented foods are a great way to get more probiotics into your system and enjoy a variety of health benefits. From treating hepatic disease to reducing arthritis symptoms, fermented foods have been shown to help with various issues. In addition, there are many great fermented food options available and some excellent Fermented Supplements on the market as well.
Give them a try and see how they can help you improve your health!