Food trends come and go, but it seems that fermented foods have marked their territory and are here to stay. As awareness grows around eating healthier and having a healthier gut, we have learned that some trendy foods aren’t just trendy, but are good for you as well.
It turns out fermented foods aren’t really a new thing; they’ve been around for quite some time. Back in the day, foods were fermented for preservation, but with science and resources evolving, we found out that this historical preservation process actually has other perks.
What is fermentation in foods anyway?
Well, it’s when microorganisms that are naturally present or added to foods do some hard work in the absence of oxygen. This process kills any bad bacteria and makes room for the good bacteria to thrive and work its magic. Cool,right?
Most foods can be fermented. You name it, anything from cabbage to milk and even meats.
When it comes to this process, a few terms might come up: Lactic Acid Fermentation, which is when pickles, yogurt and sourdough are fermented. Alcohol Fermentation is used to make wine, beer and some spirits. Acetic Acid Fermentation is the process used to make kombucha, olives and vinegar.
Why are they good for you?
When picking up a bag of nuts, seeds or grains, you might come across an ingredient called phytic acid. This is a natural ingredient that sometimes binds to iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium, making them harder to absorb.Fortunately, the fermentation process can reduce up to 85% of that phytic acid content in most foods.
The fermentation process can also increase the amount of vitamins and minerals in foods, such as B vitamins and iron. Most fermented foods have good bacteria-probiotics, most commonly recognized as lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These live microorganisms reinforce the good bacteria that is already in our gut, promoting health benefits. But remember all living things must be fed, and these little guys like to be fed with prebiotics — soluble fiber present in grains, fruits, legumes and vibi+® of course.
Keeping your gut garden nourished will help it flourish, supporting healthy weight, blood sugar levels, inflammationreduction and improved digestion process.
Pro Tip: When shopping for fermented, ready-to-eat foods, look for the words “live cultures” or “naturally fermented.” Most are found in the refrigerated section.
But is it good for everyone?
It’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor, nutritionist or dietitian about consuming fermented foods, depending on your personal condition.
Some people who have food sensitivities, food allergies or intolerances might experience some unwanted symptoms when consuming too many fermented foods. Others might experience flatulence and bloating at first, but most bodies adjust.
Everyone is unique and adding new foods to your routine can look a little different for everyone, so take baby steps toward the path to fermented foods.
Hills RD Jr, Pontefract BA, Mishcon HR, Black CA, Sutton SC, Theberge CR. Gut Microbiome: Profound Implications for Diet and Disease. Nutrients. 2019 Jul 16;11(7):1613. doi: 10.3390/nu11071613. PMID: 31315227; PMCID: PMC6682904.
Gupta RK, Gangoliya SS, Singh NK. Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains. J Food Sci Technol. 2015 Feb;52(2):676-84. doi: 10.1007/s13197-013-0978-y. Epub 2013 Apr 24. PMID: 25694676; PMCID: PMC4325021.