We should all be able to name at a least a few fermented foods: pickles, beer, yogurt. However, most people don’t think of fermented foods as must-haves in the diet. Recently, fermented foods have been getting a lot of attention as they pack a big nutritional punch. First of all, what are fermented foods, technically? Fermented foods have gone through a process called lactofermentation where natural bacteria feeds on the sugar in foods and creates lactic acid. This not only preserves the food but also increases its bioavailability (how well your body can digest and absorb nutrients), enzymes, probiotics, and B vitamins. Ancient cultures have been eating fermented foods for thousands of years (think sauerkraut in Europe, Kimchi in Asia, and Kombucha in Russia). There are a number of benefits from consuming fermented foods and Wellness Mama made a great list that we’re sharing below. We’re also sharing a recipe for a tasty Kimchi. Although the wellness world has caught on to fermented foods and you can buy them already made, it’s always more affordable and fun to DIY! Enjoy!
- Probiotics– Eating fermented foods and drinking fermented drinks like Kefir and Kombucha will introduce beneficial bacteria into your digestive system and help the balance of bacteria in your body. Probiotics have also been shown to help slow or reverse some diseases, improve bowel health, aid digestion, and improve immunity!
- Absorb Food Better– Having the proper balance of gut bacteria and enough digestive enzymes helps you absorb more of the nutrients in the foods you eat. Pair this with your healthy real food diet, and you will absorb many more nutrients from the foods you eat. You won’t need as many supplements and vitamins, and you’ll be benefiting more from the live nutrients in your foods.
- Budget Friendly– Incorporating healthy foods into your diet can get expensive, but not so with fermented foods. You can make your own whey at home for a couple of dollars, and using that and sea salt, fermenting many foods becomes inexpensive. Drinks like Water Kefir and Kombucha can be made at home also and cost only pennies per serving. Adding these things to your diet can also cut down on the number of supplements you need, helping the budget further.
- Preserves Food Easily– Homemade salsa only lasts a few days in the fridge- Fermented homemade salsa lasts months! The same goes for sauerkraut, pickles, beets and other garden foods. Lacto-fermentation allows you to store these foods for longer periods of time without losing the nutrients like you would with traditional canning.