The benefits of fermented foods - sauerkraut | Blackmores

The benefits of fermented foods

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What exactly are fermented foods and why should we eat them? We look at how eating fermented products can enhance digestion.

What are fermented foods?

Fermented foods are those which contain beneficial or "good" bacteria”.

Fermenting is essentially a natural process in which an organism converts sugar to an acid or alcohol.

During the fermentation process, the “good” bacteria feeds on the sugar and starch in the food.

This produces lactic acid (as a by-product) contributing to the acidic taste that many fermented foods have.

Fermentation is thought to improve the nutritional content of foods through enhancing bioavailability and boosting absorption.

Some health experts speculate that the reason why poor digestion is so prevalent in society is because modern diets include little to no fermented food products.

It’s also becoming clear that our ancestors ate more fermented foods than we do today. Researchers have found that many civilizations consumed these types of foods - and there’s even evidence that people were consuming fermented foods in 10,000 B.C.

How to make sauerkraut

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How do fermented foods benefit digestion?

Fermented foods are helpful for digestion because they introduce beneficial bacteria into the digestive system. Restoring the microbial balance in the gut results in several health benefits:
  • Beneficial bacteria help us to absorb and break down the foods we eat
  • They can also reduce the level of pathogens that contribute to illness

Additionally, maintaining the balance of “good” bacteria in the gut is associated with:
  • Improved bowel health
  • Improved digestion
  • Enhanced immunity
  • Better absorption of nutrients from foods
A healthy balance of “good” bacteria doesn’t just help digestion. There is  evidence suggesting that regularly consuming beneficial bacteria may help to reduce infections. The health of your gut bacteria is also associated with brain health, behaviour, and excess weight- as well as reduced inflammation.

What's your favourite fermented food? Tell us in the comments section below!