Fermented Food: It’s Good for You!

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

fermented foodWhen anyone mentions fermented food, it makes me want to cringe. Perhaps this is because the first fermented food I think of is sauerkraut—a food I despise.

Fermentation turns sugars or carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Yeast and bacteria are used to perform this process. We do this to preserve foods, or to create a unique flavor or texture.

So, why are these fermented foods so nutritious?

Healthy Bacteria (Probiotics)

Our intestines are incredibly long–about 7.5 to 8.5 meters (or about 25 to 28 feet). The intestines are home base for where the majority of bacteria populate.  This is where our immune system begins and many other bodily processes.

large intestineSo, if we can continue to put healthy bacteria from fermented foods into the body, we can continue to support a healthy intestinal system.

Yes, there are often living bacteria cultures found in these fermented foods. But, don’t be scared! Think of how many bacteria we come into contact with everyday.

You can not see them, but most are microorganisms that work harmoniously with the human body!

Other Health Benefits

  • For all of you gluten-free fans, fermentation can reduce the gluten found in gluten-containing foods. Fermentation often makes foods easier to digest.
  • Fermentation also breaks down lactose in yogurt making it easier to digest for those who do not tolerate lactose as well.
  • They help neutralize and destroy harmful toxins, abnormal cells, and harmful bacteria
  • Overall reduction in inflammation.
  • May help prevent colon cancer.
  • May help reduce IBS.

10 Types of Fermented Foods

  1. kefirKefir: A fermented yogurt drink and one of my favorites for a potent dose of probiotics
  2. Fermented yogurt with live and active cultures
  3. Fermented soy such as miso, tempeh, tofu, and fermented soy sauce
  4. Kombucha: A tangy and slightly bubbly probiotic drink
  5. Vinegar (unpasteurized)
  6. Fermented coconut milk.
  7. Fermented and pickled vegetables like olives, sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi
  8. Fermented bread such as sourdough
  9. Fermented cheese such as swiss cheese. However, it is important to eat these in moderation.
  10. Beer and wine

Do you eat fermented foods on a daily basis?

4 Comments

  1. Bethany

    I’ve got on of my kids sold on kefir, still working on the other one. And we eat a lot of miso soup.

    Reply
  2. Liam Rubel

    Fermented foods are sometimes beneficial like yogurt. Yogurt is best for health purposes and helps in reducing weight. Especially Greek yogurt, many dietitians recommend this for weight loss.

    Reply
  3. Spectra

    I love fermented foods–then again, I also have an extremely healthy natural gut flora. I eat sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, pickles, and vinegar on a very regular basis. Besides all the health benefits you described, Nicole, having a healthy gut flora keeps you from getting sick as often—when your body is colonized with good bacteria, viruses and other bacteria have a harder time setting up shop in your body. I must say that there is a lot of truth in that–I haven’t had so much as a cold in over a year.

    Reply
    • Nicole German (RD, LD)

      I completely agree! Every time I think my throat feels scratchy or I have a few sniffles, I buy some kefir and drink it everyday. Works for me!

      Reply