Fermented foods are foods which have been combined with microorganisms (bacteria). These foods have been in the diets of many cultures around the world for centuries. When our ancestors developed the various forms of cultured or fermented food and beverages, they had no idea of beneficial enzymes or bacteria, or of the enhanced vitamin content they were getting from these products. Their main concerns would have been the flavour and keeping-quality. Over time these foods rose to importance to them for their many health benefits.
Fermented foods contribute to efficient digestion in three ways by:
- breaking down foods to make digestion and assimilation easier.
- providing enzymes to aid digestion.
- supplying and nourishing the correct intestinal bacteria.
In our modern Western diet, we don't consume many fermented foods anymore - perhaps the most popular fermented food now is yoghurt. Naturally fermented yoghurt can be beneficial as long as it isn't loaded with sugar and flavours.
Better choices of fermented foods are:
- fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchi)
- fermented beverages (kombucha, rejuvalac, kefir)
- fermented legumes (miso, natto)
Since the the discovery of preservatives, the food industry has almost abandoned traditional methods of food preservation and our health has declined.
It is quite simple to include some fermented foods in your diet for their health benefits (and taste). Just make sure you don't heat them up as the heat will destroy the good bacteria.