Are you a fan of sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, pickled beets, or kimchi? Or are these foods too strong and – for lack of a better word – stinky for your palate? Well, it might be time to get over the strong taste and smell because fermented foods are some of the best superfoods in the world and can help you maintain a great complexion and excellent health, too.
What Are Fermented Foods?
First of all, though, we’ll need to define what we’re talking about. What are fermented foods, and how can they be helpful to you? The fermentation process is actually called Lacto-fermentation, and it involves naturally occurring bacteria feeding on the starches and sugars in the food that’s fermenting.
When done correctly, the process not only preserves the food far longer than any refrigerator or freezer could, but it also creates a lot of vitamins and nutrients that your body craves, including omega-3 fatty acids, B-complex vitamins, enzymes, and probiotics.
Fermenting has also been proven to break food down to a more easily digestible form without disturbing or diminishing its nutrients. Consuming fermented foods is strongly linked with improved digestion and overall good health.
Promote Your Probiotics
Kombucha and kefir are two popular fermented beverages that are packed with probiotics. Doctors will often recommend drinking these and increasing your yogurt intake when they prescribe antibiotics.
As the antibiotics attack the bacteria causing you to feel sick, they also attack the bacteria that help keep you healthy and promote better digestion. By introducing probiotics into your diet, you can help get your gut flora back to its natural, normal levels.
Get More Nutrient Absorption
With the right balance of gut flora and the digestion-promoting enzymes in fermented foods, your body will be better equipped to break down and fully digest the foods you eat. This means better absorption of vitamins and minerals, which means higher energy levels, better rest, and easier weight management.
Fermented Foods are Safer Than Raw Foods
If more probiotics and better nutrient absorption aren’t enough to get you eating more fermented foods, how about this? Fermented fruits and vegetables are significantly less likely to contain E. coli than raw fruits and vegetables. That’s because the lactic acid produced by the fermentation process is one of nature’s most effective E. coli killers.
So, before you reach for a salad, you might want to think about how much safer a plate of kimchi might be.
Keep Your Food Fresh Without Harmful Preservatives
Fresh fruits and vegetables last little more than a week (or less) in the refrigerator, but processed foods that last for weeks or months are full of preservatives that can make your blood pressure go through the roof (in addition to other health concerns). However, fermented fruits and vegetables can last for months before they go bad.
You could get the same lasting effects with traditional canning at home, but this process involves a lot of boiling and cooking, which can leach the vitamins and nutrients out of your foods. Fermentation keeps your foods packed with nutrients and lets you save them for much longer than any fresh foods.
You don’t have to switch to an all fermented foods diet to reap the benefits, either. You can start by adding a fermented course to one or two meals each day or by drinking a glass of kefir or kombucha once or twice a day. The more you substitute fermented foods for fresh or processed foods, the more benefits you’ll see.