Fermented foods are enjoying a resurgence, and rightly so. They are economical, delicious, help to reduce food waste, and improve our digestion and nutrient availability. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider adding them to your diet.
1. They reduce sugar cravings
The bacteria in your gut have a say in what foods we crave – they send out messages encouraging us to seek out the foods that will help them thrive. Cheeky! It’s usually the less-beneficial species that send us on a hunt for sugar, and when we eat it, they grow in numbers and demand more more more. The bacteria in fermented food can crowd out these noisy sugar-loving species and help us to reduce cravings.
2. They taste amazing
If you’ve never tasted sauerkraut or kimchi, you are missing out – they offer an incredible burst of flavour and a little goes a long way, they really pack a punch. The same concept as is used for making these more well-known ferments can be extended to any vegetable you have to hand, each producing a different taste but all with that unique tangy deliciousness.
3. They are good for your gut
Fermented foods are great for gut health. The enzymes produced during the fermentation process aid digestion. The tangy flavour stimulates taste receptors that tell your stomach to produce more digestive secretions, which increase your ability to break down protein and extract all the nutrients from your food. AND the friendly bacteria encourage the growth of healthy bacterial communities living in your gut.
4. They produce and release extra nutrients
The enzymes produced during fermentation pre-digest the food, which means it’s easier for your digestive system to extract nutrients, especially vitamin C. As well, the bacteria produce some extra nutrients, including vitamin K, B vitamins, some amino acids and CoQ10.
5. Food preservation
Fermenting vegetables is a technique that has been used by cultures around the world, basically forever, as a way of extending their shelf life. The fermenting process encourages the natural bacteria to flourish, crowding out less beneficial, or even harmful, species of microbes. Lactic acid is produced as a byproduct, which minimises food spoilage, so enables a longer period of time between harvesting veggies and eating them. When we are eating seasonally, fermenting vegetables extends the supply and variety of food available, beyond their growing season.
Eating fermented foods is an easy and delicious way to add some extra nutrition to your day, and improve your health by supporting digestion and the health of the gut. A little goes a long way so start with adding a teaspoon or so a day to meals and see if you notice the benefits.