Fermentation: A beneficial way to preserve food
We ferment foods as a way to preserve them. But fermentation also brings about some health benefits that can add to a healthy diet.
In the fermentation process a bacteria or yeast feeds on the natural sugars in food. These bacteria create compounds such as lactic acid or alcohol which helps preserve food and the foods being fermented fill up with good bacteria such as those in probiotic products. The bacteria in fermentation predigest food components, making them easier for the gut to digest and nutrient absorption.
Your gut is the largest part of your immune system, so introducing good bacteria may help in fighting illness and keep inflammation down. There has also been some research that some types of probiotics may help promote weight loss. However relying solely on fermented foods is not the only key, being sure you have an overall healthy diet is important.
Not all fermented products are created equal. Most pickles and sauerkraut found in the store have been pasteurized and cooked at high heat which kills all the good bacteria. Making your own pickles and sauerkraut helps to retain that good bacteria. Commercially available fermented dairy products such as yogurt and kefir do contain probiotics if you look for the label with the words “live cultures”.
Fermented foods can be high in sodium, so opting for low sodium products when possible will help contribute to your overall healthy diet.