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Fermented foods 101: Revitalise your gut

fermented foods

Looking to boost your health and digestion? Fermented foods might just give you the kick start your gut needs! HFG takes a closer look at the benefits of fermented foods and how they can help boost your health.

What are fermented foods?

Fermented foods are essentially those that have been through a process of fermentation, in which microorganisms, such as yeast and bacteria, break down the sugars and other components in the food, creating beneficial compounds such as probiotics, enzymes, and organic acids. This process increases the shelf life of food and can also enhance its flavour, texture and appearance.
Fermentation has been used for centuries as a natural means of preserving food, long before refrigeration and chemical additives were invented. By breaking down complex molecules into simpler ones, fermentation can also make nutrients in food more easily absorbed by the body, providing a range of health benefits.

Fermented foods are also a potential source of probiotics — the good gut bacteria living inside your gut which, in the right amounts, might boost your health. Probiotic-containing fermented foods are seen as a way to manipulate the microbiome —your gut’s eco-system — so that ‘good’ bacteria can help improve the overall balance of bacteria in your gut and boost your health.

Are all fermented foods probiotics?

Fermented foods are a great source of probiotics, but not all fermented foods are created equal. While some fermented foods may not contain live cultures that are beneficial to your health, which are called probiotics, others can provide a wealth of nutrients to support your overall well-being. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your fermented foods, it’s best to look for raw or untreated options. Keep in mind that consuming probiotics regularly and in adequate amounts is key to reaping their health benefits. That’s why we recommend incorporating a variety of fermented foods into your diet, such as kimchi, yoghurt, kefir and tempeh, to help support your gut health and boost your immune system.

5 benefits of fermented foods

Improved digestion: Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria or probiotics that can help improve digestion and relieve digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Studies have shown that probiotics in fermented foods can help restore gut microbiota balance and enhance the production of digestive enzymes.

Boosted immunity: Fermented foods contain high levels of beneficial bacteria, which can help boost our immune system. These bacteria produce compounds that can fight off harmful pathogens, protect the gut lining, and regulate immune responses.

Increased nutrient absorption: Fermentation can increase the bioavailability of nutrients in foods, making them more easily absorbed by the body. For example, the lactic acid bacteria in fermented dairy products can break down lactose, making it easier for lactose-intolerant individuals to digest and absorb the nutrients in dairy.

Reduced inflammation: Fermented foods contain anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce inflammation in the body. Some studies have shown that consuming fermented foods can help alleviate symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and allergies.

Improved mental health: There is growing evidence that the connection between the gut and the brain plays a role in mental health. Fermented foods can help improve gut microbiota balance, which may have positive effects on mood, anxiety, and depression.

Fermented foods to try

If you’re interested in exploring fermented foods, there are many delicious options to choose from. Incorporating these foods into your diet can promote a healthy gut by providing your body with beneficial probiotics. To maximise the benefits of these fermented foods, make sure to eat plenty of prebiotic foods such as onions, leeks, asparagus, oats and bananas. These foods help feed the good bacteria in your gut and support the survival of probiotics.

  1. Yoghurt: While all yoghurts contain live cultures, to get the gut health benefits, look for yoghurts that contain probiotics which are live cultures with proven health benefits, like improved gut health.
  2. Kefir: Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is similar to yoghurt but has a thinner consistency. It has a slightly tart flavour and can be enjoyed on its own or used in smoothies or salad dressings. Kefir is also available in non-dairy varieties, such as coconut or almond milk kefir.
  3. Kombucha: Kombucha is a fermented drink that is known for its tangy, slightly sweet taste. It is made by fermenting black or green tea with sugar and live cultures. Kombucha is a popular alternative to sugary soft drinks and can be found in a variety of flavours, including ginger, raspberry and lemon.
  4. Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut, a traditional German dish made by fermenting cabbage, not only adds a tangy, slightly sour taste to your meals but can also be a great way to support your gut health. As a fermented food, sauerkraut is rich in beneficial bacteria that can help improve your digestive health by promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
  5. Kimchi: Kimchi is a spicy Korean side dish made with fermented vegetables that includes beneficial bacteria that may improve digestion and reduce inflammation. Kimchi is also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, making it a nutritious addition to meals. It can be eaten on its own or used as a topping for rice bowls, sandwiches or tacos.
  6. Miso: Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans, rice, or barley. It is commonly used in Japanese cuisine to add flavour to soups, dressings and marinades. Miso has a salty, savoury taste and is a good source of protein, fibre and vitamins.
  7. Tempeh: Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that is similar in texture to tofu. It has a nutty flavour and can be used in a variety of dishes, including stir-fries, salads and sandwiches. Tempeh is a good source of protein and is often used as a meat substitute in vegetarian and vegan diets.

Overall, incorporating fermented foods into your diet is a great way to revitalise your gut health and boost your overall health. With so many delicious options to choose from, you’re sure to find a fermented food that you enjoy. So why not give them a try and experience the many benefits of these gut-friendly foods for yourself?

 

At Healthy Food Guide, we only collaborate with trusted brands. To bring you this article we have partnered with Activia, for more information about their products visit activia.com.au

Article sources and references


Date modified: 16 May 2023
First published: May 2023

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