The Benefits of Fermented Foods

 

The Wellspring School for Healing Arts Wholistic Nutrition program students (group 2) recently hosted a free  community event in Boise. The focus of the event was health and wellness through nutrition and had great  information tables replete with recipes, samples and demonstrations.  One topic from the evening was the  table highlighting the benefits of fermentation, including a hands-on demonstration for making your own  sauerkraut. Some highlights below from students, Demetria Ramakers and Patricia Young who provided  samples and recipes to very willing and interested attendees. Way to go students!

 

PROCESS

Fermentation is produced through the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins by microorganisms such as bacteria, yeasts and molds.  Fermentation enhances the micronutrient profile of several foods. Virtually every food with a complex or simple sugar content can be successfully fermented.

HEALTH BENEFITS

These foods are so beneficial to overall health that it is recommended to consume some sort of fermented food everyday for overall wellbeing.  Here are many of the overall nutritional benefits of fermented food:

  • Contains probiotics, the “good” bacteria that our body is absolutely dependent on for availability, digestibility and assimilation of nutrients in our body.
  • Aiding digestion
  • Supporting immune function that fight harmful bacteria and even cancer cells.
  • Fruits, legumes and grains, vegetables subjected to fermentation also see increases in both their macro- and micronutrient profiles.
  • The fermentation process of grains decreases the activity of phytic acid content naturally present in grains.  Phytic acid is an antinutrient that binds up minerals, preventing full absorption of minerals in the gut.  Since souring grains reduces the phytic acid content, the fermentation process actually enables your body to absorb more minerals from the grain than you would be able to otherwise absorb.

FERMENTED FOODS

There are a variety of good fermented foods available to supplement our daily diet.  Do your research on what brands support the lacto-fermentation process.  And better yet make your own fermented foods at home, it’s inexpensive and is very easy to do yourself.  There are many cookbooks and websites to find easy recipes for at home fermentation.  Here is a small list of the many fermented foods that are easily available at your own health food store:

  • Miso – a fermented soybean paste that can easily be added to soups, dips, or any savory recipe.
  • Sauerkraut – shredded cabbage that has been fermented.  Taking just a couple of tablespoons a day has great health benefits.  Add as a condiment to meals.
  • Soy Sauce (or tamari, wheat free soy sauce) – a fermented soybean condiment that is easily added to recipes.
  • Kefir – a fermented food that starts from milk. Can be used much the same way as yogurt.
  • Tempeh – fermented whole soybeans, softened and soaked.  Can be added to stir-fry dishes or used as a meat substitute.  It best served cooked and seasoned.
  • Kombucha – a fermented tea that can be used as a beverage a couple of times during the week.

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