They’re crawling with live bacteria and are often stinky. But, fermented foods are popping up in our local health stores and chats with friends more frequently than ever before. So we’re asking what benefits do they bring and how do we incorporate them into our diet?
What are they?
Fermented foods go through a natural process of lactofermentation. This process sees the natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes such as b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics.
All this means the sour, complex flavours of fermented foods can aid in brain and gut health. While regular consumption of foods such as sauerkraut can aid in healing health issues such as leaky gut and IBS. Fermented foods can also aid in the better absorption of nutrients, healthier skin and boosted immunity.
4 fermented foods to try
Tamari is a traditional Japanese sauce made from fermented soybeans. The fermenting process takes between 18 months to 2 years. But, unlike the traditional soy sauce, this fermented sauce has just a little more depth. It isn’t just for Asian dishes and can be added to sauces, soups and stews.
While similar in colour and flavor to soy sauce, people select tamari because it’s gluten-free. It’s also thicker and richer thanks to the higher concentration of fermented soybeans meaning you’ll use much less.
This tangy fermented drink, a cross between milk and yoghurt, can be found in your local grocer. Milk kefir is a colored grain used to ferment milk. The milk used for kefir is typically cow or goat, as it contains a denser nutrient profile. If you’re vegan, then opt for coconut milk.
Kefir grains contain more than 30 strains of bacteria and yeasts, making it a very rich and diverse food. The microorganisms in these grains help to break down processed foods. They also support the digestive tract, which is suitable for those that suffer from digestive issues. It has also been suggested that milk kefir can help with autoimmune diseases such as eczema, roseca, and acne.
Coined the Immortal Health Elixir by the Chinese, this age old fermented tea drink has been around for centuries. This sweetened tea is made by SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast).
The benefits of drinking kombucha include digestion, immune support and detoxification. While other benefits include increased energy, improved mood, and assistance with nutrient assimilation. A note of caution: due to its naturally high acid content it has implications for your oral hygiene. When drinking, use a straw and rinse your mouth (don’t brush) with water after consumption.
A traditional fermented Korean delicacy made typically from cabbage and a range of spices and seasonings. This spicy fermented side dish can be traced back to the Korean 7th century, with the heat and other spices being added in approximately the 18th century.
Kimchi is a low calorie, high-fiber, nutrient packed powerhouse. The numerous health benefits include help with digestion and detoxification. As well as constipation prevention, weight loss, strengthening the immune system and maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels.
Kaman Ryan is an animal flow instructor, holistic health counsellor, personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist and a pre- and post-natal strength coach. For more information visit kamanryan.com