Sarah got us all hooked on fermented foods a few months back. One whiff of her homemade sauerkraut (it’s an acquired smell) and a spiel about it’s countless gut benefits and before we knew it we were stocking up on mason jars.
What is fermenting?
The art of fermenting food is deeply rooted in tradition. Countless cultures around the world ferment in part as a preservation technique but also as a way to enhance the nutritional profile of ingredients.
For the science-y folk among us who want to know the “nerdy” nitty-gritty stuff:
Fermenting converts sugars – glucose, fructose and sucrose – into cellular energy and a metabolic byproduct (lactic acid),which in turn produces fantastic digestive enzymes and healthy gut flora and cuts the sugar content of a food… all in one!
Lactic acid fermentation enhances the micronutrient profile of foods and which means they’re full of probiotics, enzymes, vitamins and minerals.
Here is a list of some of the health benefits you can expect from chowing down on some fermented fare:
- It restores gut health: We talked about the importance of good gut bacteria in Monday’s post . The lactic acid produced during fermentation promotes the growth of healthy flora in the intestine.
- It increases Vitamin A and Vitamin C levels: Lactic acid enhances a foods digestibility and increases vitamin C and vitamin A levels.
- It helps remove toxins from the body: Fermentation breaks down the nutrients in foods by the action of beneficial microorganisms and create natural chelators that are available to bind toxins and remove them from the body (more science lingo – sorry!).
- Fermentation cuts the sugar content of foods dramatically: In fact, it’s the sugar that starts the fermentation.
- It has cancer-fighting properties: Fermented foods are rich in Vitamin K2 and studies have shown that increased intake of Vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
- It helps you absorb nutrients better: When your gut flora is out of whack you don’t absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat. So no matter how much kale you munch on you won’t be reaping any of the benefits. Fermented foods produce the digestive enzymes which ensure you get the most nutrients out of all foods you ingest.
- It supports our immune function: Some experts consider the gut to be the largest immune organ in the body. The chronic inflammation linked to diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes can begin with dysfunctional gut microbiota.
Stay tuned next week when delve deeper into fermented foods with a spotlight on Kombucha.
Do you ferment? We’d love to hear all about your fermenting adventures in the comments below.