Fermented foods could be something that you’re not too familiar with or never heard of. For others, you may have heard the word floating about but weren’t entirely sure what the purpose of them was. What you might like to know though is that they can benefit your health because of the richness in probiotics they have. The bacteria and fungi found in fermented foods help to protect your intestines against diseases that can build up in your body. It’s good to know which types of foods are available for you so you can incorporate it into your diet.
What are they and how are they beneficial?
Probiotics are a form of bacteria which are created naturally in the digestive system of the body. They can be found in foods and in probiotic capsules which are a form of supplement. By intaking good bacteria, it can help to balance the bad bacteria that’s formed in your digestive system so that it continues to be strong and healthy. They way it does this is by increasing the amount of antibodies in the body, contributing to a better immune system. There are many other benefits to probiotics also:
- Improve your digestion
- Help to treat diarrhoea from bad bacteria build up
- Enhances bodily functions to utilise certain elements like phosphorus and iron
- Reduce cardiovascular disease
Types of foods you can have
Kefir originated in Eastern Europe and is a food that many have compared to yoghurt due to its taste. In order to make it you simply add kefir grains, which are made up of bacteria and yeast, and add it to milk which forms a type of beverage. It can help many functions in the body including digestion to bone health. The big difference between yoghurt and Kefir, however, is that Kefir is filled with plenty more yeasts and bacteria.
Miso stems from Japan and is formed by putting together soybeans with salt and a type of fungus called koji. Many may have seen it in restaurants that specialise in Japanese cuisine in the form of Miso soup. This is created by putting together stock and miso paste resulting in an extremely delightful dish. Miso contributes to protecting the heart by lowering blood pressure, preventing the chances of breast cancer and stroke. Alternative methods to using Miso in soup is by glazing meats or vegetables and even putting it in salads.
Similar to Miso, Tempeh is formed from soybeans. It’s perfect for vegetarians as it’s a high protein food which is seen as a meat substitute. It’s rich in nutrients which can be beneficial to reduce risks of heart disease. Due to how it’s formed Tempeh can be used for pretty much anything in your diet. You can bake, steam and use it in sandwiches as it’s compact.
This may be familiar to many as it’s a side dish commonly found in Korean restaurants. It’s predominantly made from fermented cabbage but other vegetables such as radish and red pepper are also used. It’s known to lower cholesterol levels as well as reduce insulin levels in the body. Your body can stop responding to it normally if it happens for too long causing high blood sugar levels. It’s a pretty simple dish to make and can be used in noodle and rice dishes.
The main benefits of consuming Kombucha everyday is to increase energy levels, improve the digestive system, help the process of weight loss and even reduce the pain you feel in your joints. It contributes to your overall health and is high in vitamins. It’s a form of beverage that’s made by combining black tea and sugar. When the sugar is combined with the black tea, the yeast and bacteria in Kombucha are vital in starting the fermentation process which releases enzymes, probiotics and several acids that benefit your health.
Milk cheeses surprisingly have many health benefits due to the level of probiotics that they contain. Goat, sheep and A2 cows soft cheeses in particular have some of the most probiotics included. The main benefits includes improving mental health problems and healing issues with your digestive system.
Another food on the list that’s formed by fermented soybeans, Natto natures from Japan where it’s an extremely popular dish. Natto contains the probiotic ‘bacillus subtilis’ which is really strong for promoting better cardiovascular health. On top of the usual probiotic health benefits Natto is commonly known to fight off cancer as it includes nattokinase which is an anti-inflammatory enzyme.
Is it safe?
In order for foods to be sold to the general public they each have to go through a health and safety process. Therefore fermented foods are safe to eat if it’s prepared properly. There just needs to be precautions taken so that the foods don’t become contaminated from bacterias that cause harmful disease. Alternatively, if you were to make fermented foods from scratch at home then basic cleanliness rules would apply. These would be rules such as regularly washing hands, cleaning worktops and rinsing foods before you choose to deal with them. Just be sure to stick to the relevant method and ingredients when you cook fermented foods. This is so you get the right amount of probiotics available and prevent the risk of too much acid being contained in your meals.
This article has hopefully formed positive thoughts you may have had about fermented foods and maybe given you an urge to give it a try. If you’re unsure about how it will taste and maybe feel uncomfortable at first about trying it, you could start off simple by trying probiotic yoghurts in your smoothies or having certain foods as a side dish to your main meal. By eating fermented foods you’re gaining major health benefits and it may even provide new techniques you may have never discovered in the kitchen before, conjuring up different flavours that can satisfy your taste buds.
My name is Jamie Costello and I’m a student who loves to discuss articles on health and fitness. As I enjoy going to the gym I like to broaden my understanding on topics ranging from digestive health supplements to exercise routines. I also have a passion for writing so have combined both together to share my knowledge of what I love. You can find me on twitter: @jamie88costello