Good for Your Gut: Benefits of Fermented Food
The word fermented may sound scary, but if you’re looking to eat healthier, you should get to know it. Foods and drinks that have undergone the fermentation process are especially good for you because they produce good bacteria in your digestive system. This aids with digestion and helps your body absorb more vitamins and nutrients from the food you eat. Here’s everything you need to know about fermented foods and why you should add them to your diet:
How does something become fermented?
Foods that are fermented have gone through a process called lactofermentation, which occurs when there’s no oxygen. Natural (good) bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food, creating something called lactic acid. This process actually preserves the food, which is why fermented foods can last for a long time on a shelf without refrigeration.
Why are fermented foods so healthy?
They contain probiotics, which are live bacteria that are created during the fermentation process. These aren’t the bad bacteria that can make you sick—probiotics are actually beneficial to your digestive system by helping you properly digest food and absorb nutrients into your body. Probiotics also help you get rid of bad bacteria, while increasing the production of certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, B12, B5 and biotin. As a result, probiotics improve digestive health and can even shield your body from harmful bacteria. (There are also things called prebiotics, which are carbohydrates that nourish and feed the probiotics in your gastrointestinal tract.)
What foods are fermented?
There are common foods that are naturally fermented and contain probiotics, like yogurt, but there are lots of other fermented foods at the grocery store. Some to stock up on are:
- Kefir, a thick yogurt-like milk drink
- Kimchi, spicy fermented cabbage
- Kombucha, fermented tea
- Pickled vegetables
- Sauerkraut, fermented cabbage
- Sour Cream
- Tempeh, fermented soybeans
Try adding some of these delicious fermented foods to your diet as a way to boost your immune system and keep you feeling good.
Photo credit: Erin