There is a lot of buzz around fermented foods at the moment. The fact is, we’ve been eating fermented foods in our diets for years and years … yoghurt for example! Our nutritionist, Sophie Heath gives you the low-down on fermented foods and probiotics for you, explaining the science, the benefits and how to incorporate them into your diet.
So, what is a fermentation?
Fermentation is a reaction that occurs when bacteria (or other organisms) convert sugar or starch into acid and other by-products. Fermenting food is a way of preserving food because it stops the “bad bacteria” from growing.
This has been done for centuries. The result is a very “tangy” taste – quite an acquired taste for some!
What types of foods are fermented foods?
There is a wide variety of fermented foods now available on the market. Perhaps the most well-known food is yoghurt. Yes, if you eat yoghurt, you may have been eating fermented food for years without even knowing it! Some less well known (but increasingly popular in the UK) include sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), miso (fermented soya bean paste), kombucha (fermented tea), kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage and other vegetables) and kefir (fermented dairy drink)
.Note: if these fermented foods are ever heat treated, this damages the beneficial bacteria – so ensure you read what you are buying! If they are on the shelf at room temperature it is likely they have been heat treated.
What are the benefits of eating these foods?
Another popular phenomenon currently is the microbiome. This is the world of bacteria in your guts. Research is gathering pace regarding the benefits of the “good bacteria” in our guts in relation to many different health effects including:
- weight management,
- digestive health,
- immune health, and even
These bacteria also help with the digestion and absorption of essential nutrients in our diets.
Fermented foods can help your microbiome stay healthy by providing some healthy strains of bacteria (potentially acting as probiotics).
The jury is out on whether the probiotic effect of fermented foods actually results in measurable health effects – as always, the science takes a bit of time to catch up. But some research is promising – so if they have potential to be good for you, and you enjoy them, then why not include them as part of your healthy balanced diet?
How should I incorporate fermented foods into my diet?
One of my favourite fermented foods is kefir. Kate loves it too! Try it in Kate’s delicious Bircher muesli recipe … a perfect summer breakfast! … https://www.gofasterfood.com/recipes/birchermuesli/.