The best fermented foods and their benefits
There are many different health benefits that are now being associated with fermented foods. But what exactly is fermentation? Fermentation is an old process that everyone’s heard of, which takes sugars and converts them to alcohol and carbon dioxide using a variety of yeasts, bacteria, or both. The process breaks down foods and brings them to simplified states nutritionally speaking, which the body often finds very useful. After foods undergo fermentation, they go through a biochemical change, which usually has very different nutritional properties than the foods did in their original state. The sugar and carbohydrate content of the newly fermented food is usually converted into some kind of helpful acid that the body can use.
In many cases however, the fermentation process yields alcohol, which is an undesirable byproduct in most cases. Not long ago, the fermented tea Kombucha, which had become very popular as a natural health tea, was taken off the shelves of many grocery stores because testing showed that some of the bottles had more than trace amounts of alcohol in them. In modern nutrition, this is common. Fermentation is not always an exact process, sometimes yielding results like the above example. Because of that, most food producers and sellers like to stay away from most fermented foods and instead sell health foods that can be more standardized.
- Increased Digestion Enhancing Enzymes. As the body continues to grow old, the number of enzymes it produces begins to decline also. Some scientists think that if enzyme production didn’t decrease in this way, human beings would actually live longer. So, you can see the benefit of fermented foods. They promote the production of digestion enhancing enzymes, thereby curbing the natural age reduction of those same enzymes, allowing the body to fully utilize the food it takes in.
- Increased Beneficial Bacteria, or Probiotics. Everyone has heard of and probably used antibiotics. Probiotics are similar. Probiotics are foods that help replenish and recover the beneficial bacteria that help the stomach and digestive tract break down and absorb our food. Without the right number of helpful bacteria in the digestive tract, the food we eat can’t be fully absorbed.
The two major nutritional benefits to fermented foods have to do mostly with supporting the digestive system. This really is an important benefit because fully absorbing what food we already eat will allow the body to become a more efficient machine that gets the most bang out of its buck, so to speak. In a few other hubs, I wrote about the importance of detoxification and helping the body to reach a state of efficiency. It’s the same here. Giving your body the maximum ability to utilize and absorb the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the food that you eat should very much increase your health and wellness. Unrelated studies have noticed a correlation that people who eat less food live longer than people who eat more.