Wine, beer and cider are fermented along with leavened bread and dairy products such as yogurt, kefir and some cheeses. Pickled vegetables can also be fermented. When fermentation occurs, the sugars and carbohydrates in a food convert into something else. For instance, juice turns into wine, grains turn into beer, carbohydrates turn into carbon dioxide to leaven bread and vegetable sugars become preservative organic acids.
Fermented Foods Aid In Digestion & Support The Immune System
Think of fermented food as a partially digested food. Many people have difficulty digesting the lactose in milk, this is a problem I have. When milk is fermented and becomes yogurt or kefir, the lactose is partially broken down so it becomes more digestible.
Lactic-acid fermented foods (such as dill pickles and sauerkraut) are rich in enzyme activity that aids in the breakdown of our food, helping us absorb the important nutrients we rely on to stay healthy. Fermented foods have been shown to support the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract. In our antiseptic world with chlorinated water, antibiotics in our meat, our milk and our own bodies, and antibacterial everything, we could use some beneficial bacteria in our bodies.
When our digestion is functioning properly and we are absorbing all the nutrients we need, our immune system tends to be stronger, and better equipped to wage war against disease and illness. Fermented foods are not a cure all but I do believe they will help your digestive system and create a stronger immune system.
Incorporating Fermented Foods Into Your Diet
To receive the health benefits and the flavors of fermented foods, you don’t need to make an entire meal of them. Just a little bit will do. A spoonful of sauerkraut on your sausage offers benefits and adds flavor. So do a few sips of miso soup to begin a meal or a few pickles on a turkey sandwich. Kefir or natural ginger ail with your meal are a great way to get these added enzymes and probiotics.