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The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

Benefits of Fermented Foods

Do you eat fermented foods? Foods left to sit and steep, allowing their sugars and carbs to interact with bacteria, yeast, and microbes, undergo fermentation. This fermentation changes a food’s chemical structure, resulting in the creation of healthy probiotics. Some common examples of fermented foods include kombucha, yogurt, aged or raw cheeses, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, natto, and kimchi. More and more, studies are finding that these foods can be beneficial to overall health, improving digestion and cognitive function, boosting immunity, helping to treat irritable bowel disease and build bone density, fighting allergy, and killing harmful microbes and yeast.

How to Use Fermented Foods

For centuries, people used fermentation to prolong their use of grains, vegetables, and milk beyond the different seasons of availability. Today, fermentation is not foremost among our methods of food preservation, but eating fermented food is a great way to up your intake of probiotic bacteria. It’s well known that eating fermented foods for gut health is beneficial, and they may help with your Adding a few servings per day to your diet can be beneficial, though it is wise to start with just one or two servings per day and slowly work up to more. You may be confused about which fermented foods to eat. Is sauerkraut good for you? Is kimchi good for you? Should you be eating fermented vegetables and fermented fruit? Here are some top suggestions of beneficial fermented foods.

  • Kefir: A fermented milk product, resembling a drinkable yogurt, kefir provides B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, and enzymes, as well as probiotics. For those who can’t tolerate dairy, coconut kefir is a good alternative.
  • Kombucha: This fermented drink is made of black tea and sugar, with trace amounts of alcohol, but not enough to be noticeable.
  • Sauerkraut: Made of fermented red or green cabbage, this is a traditional food that dates back 2,000 years or more, and contains fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins, iron, copper, calcium, sodium, manganese, and magnesium. Make sure the sauerkraut your buy says that it is fermented on the label.
  • Pickles: Surprisingly nutritious, fermented pickles contain not only probiotics, but also vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, store-bought pickles aren’t normally fermented, so look for a jar labeled “lactic acid fermented pickles.”
  • Miso: Made by fermenting soybeans, barley, or brown rice with a type of fungus called koji, this is a traditional staple of Japanese kitchens and is found in miso soup.
  • Tempeh: Made by combining soybeans with a tempeh started made of live mold, this becomes a dense, cake-like product similar to tofu but less spongy, which contains not only probiotics but also protein.
  • Natto: Consisting of fermented soybeans, natto has a strong smell and flavor and sticky, slimy texture that may not be appealing if you’re not accustomed to it.
  • Kimchi: A traditional Korean dish made from fermented vegetables, including cabbage, with spices like ginger, garlic and pepper, it’s been considered a Korean delicacy since the seventh century.
  • Raw Cheese: Raw cheeses are made with unpasteurized milk. Goat milk, sheep milk, and A2 cow soft cheeses are high in probiotics that include thermophillus, bifidus, bulgaricus, and acidophilus. Make sure the label indicates that the cheese is raw, made of milk that has not been pasteurized, and has been aged for at least six months.
  • Yogurt: The most consumed fermented dairy product in the United States, probiotic yogurt is available made from goat or sheep milk for those who have trouble with cow’s milk. Look for organic yogurt that’s made from the milk of grass-fed animals.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Although most vinegars in the supermarket do not contain probiotics, raw apple cider vinegar that contains “the mother” is fermented and has probiotics. It also contains acids like acetic acid, to support the function of probiotics and prebiotics in the gut. Adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a drink twice a day can help boost probiotic levels.
  • Kvass: A traditional fermented beverage that tastes something like beer, kvass is made of stale, sourdough rye bread, and contains between .5 percent to one percent alcohol, so it’s not considered alcoholic.
  • Cottage Cheese: Like yogurt, cottage cheese can be fermented using bacteria to help break down the lactose in the dairy. Look for brands that are low in sugar and contain active cultures; these cottage cheese varieties are also called dry curd cottage cheese or farmer’s cheese.

Incorporate Fermented Foods for Overall Health

Adding fermented foods to your diet can be part of a holistic, functional approach to wellness. At Advanced Functional Medicine, an integrated medical clinic, we take a full functional medicine approach to healing, using a comprehensive diagnostic screening to get to the root of a patient’s issues. Our whole body approach to medicine utilizes all-natural, researched-based nutritional approaches to optimize the body’s natural healing abilities, rather than just using medication to treat symptoms. Each individual receives unique and customized care, formulated based on the latest scientific resource, and we have a 96 percent success rate in patient outcomes. As a medically driven, patient-focused health clinic, we support our patients’ individual health goals, providing natural relief for symptoms of chronic factors and expert guidance about the decisions affecting a patient’s long-term health. It is our goal to help reverse chronic disease without resorting to dangerous or unnecessary drugs or surgical interventions, promoting healing from the inside out, in its truest, healthiest form. To schedule an appointment or learn more about how we can help restore your health and strengthen your body’s unique physiological functions, call 858-500-5572 or contact us through our website.