Cultures around the world have been eating fermented food for centuries. The Germans have their fermented cabbage called sauerkraut and the Koreans have their version called kimichi. Scientific research is now starting to understand and document the enormous health benefits that eating these and other fermented foods have on our body.
Fermented foods are foods that have gone through a fermentation process during which organisms, (usually a lactobacillus bacteria) feed on the sugar and starch in the food and release lactic acid which helps to preserve the food and pre-digests it for easier absorption.
When we eat these foods we enjoy many different health promoting effects. The healthy bacteria in the food interacts with our own immune system which lines the wall of our intestines and helps offer a balancing effect to strengthen the immune system against infection and helps to reduce the inflammatory response that causes many different health issues such as eczema, dairy intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome and allergies just to name a few.
During the fermentation process the bacteria produce digestive enzymes this predigests the food and allows us to absorb the nutrients of the food more easily. This is important not only for improving our nutritional levels of vitamins and minerals but also to ensure that undigested food is not sitting around in our digestive tracts feeding unhealthy organisms such as candida and pathogenic bacteria.
The exact mechanism of how these healthy bacteria exert their many beneficial effects on our body is unknown but is likely due to correcting the intestinal pH levels, producing lactase, keeping the numbers of bad organisms down and interacting with the immunomodulatory cells within the gut that balance the immune response.
Many of us are unaware that we often only absorb a little of our food. This means that not only are we missing out on essential vitamins and minerals but the bad organisms living in our digestive tract are having a feeding frenzy and they dump lots of unwanted waste products into our intestinal blood stream adding to the inflammatory and acidic load on our bodies.
Consuming fermented foods will not only assist in providing healthy bacteria but will also help the body absorb the many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in our food. The fermentation process is most effective when the food you are fermenting is as nutrient dense as possible which in turn will maximise the health benefits. There now exists many fermented superfood products that contain a range of impressive foods such as Spirulina, Dunaliella Salina, and chia seeds. These provide not only the benefits of the bacteria and live enzymes but the health providing properties of the foods themselves with guaranteed absorption.
If I had to recommend the one greatest health-promoting change to your diet it would be to include on a daily basis these fermented foods provided from the life giving wisdom of nature.