You might be thinking that eating fermented foods is the new fad in town. But it is neither a fad nor new. People have been eating fermented food for thousands of years. Wine and cheese? Ring a bell?
The incredibly beneficial process of fermentation was used by our forefathers to preserve food, long before refrigerators were even conceptualized. Earlier, this process served more as a method to preserve food. But in the recent times, researchers have made some interesting discoveries about the health benefits of this process. And as it turns out, fermented food can actually help you to restore your gut health and overall good health. Find out how.
Fermentation, Gut Microbiota, And Good Health
These three words are not randomly put together. They all are connected to one another and in that very order. Fermentation is a process that allows microbiota consisting of bacteria, yeast, or fungi to use organic molecules of sugar and starch present in foods to produce lactic acid. Lactic acid serves as a natural preservative for foods. But that’s not all. The process of fermentation allows beneficial microbiota to increase in numbers. This microbiota is also known probiotics.1
Hence, when you eat fermented food that is laden with beneficial good bacteria, it improves your gut health by adding on to the gut’s natural microbiota. Good gut health is dependent on factors like nutrient availability, bacterial adhesion, and cooperation, host health and age etc.
The large intestine generally provides a favorable condition for the gut bacteria to thrive. But this decreases drastically in the small intestine as the pH lowers and nutrient availability decreases. That is why probiotics target this part of the gut largely to eliminate infection-causing bacteria like Escherichia coli. This enables them to restore balance back to the gut.
Health Benefits Of Probiotics
- Probiotics coupled with dietary changes can alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD).
- It has also been found to be beneficial in the reduction of colorectal cancer risk. Animal studies have shown promising results in this case.
- It can also increase the absorption of minerals like calcium by our bodies.
- Weight loss and management can be positively affected by probiotics. But more research needs to be done to be comfirm results.
While many fermented foods are available in stores, you can also make them at home. Here are recipes for 3 of the most beneficial fermented foods. Get all the benefits they have to offer by adding them to your regular diet.
3 Food That Can Change Your Health
This is a popular and traditional drink in the Middle East. The name originates from a Turkish word ‘Keyif’ which means good feeling. Interestingly, this drink provides exactly that to people and their guts. This drink is produced by fermenting milk with Kefir grains or the mother cultures from that grain. Kefir grains are white colored, coral lookalike clumps that contain bacteria like lactobacilli, acetobacteria, lactococcus, and beneficial yeasts. This probiotic drink is easy to prepare, consume and store.2
Preparation Of Kefir
- A glass jar
- One non-metallic stirrer
- A cover for the jar like a muslin cloth, paper towel or a woven towel
- A tight band
- Milk of your choice (cow and goat milk are most commonly used)
- 1-2 active Kefir grains (easily available in the market)
Steps To Make Kefir
1. Take 4 cups of milk in a glass jar and transfer the Kefir grains into it.
2. Cover the jar with a piece of cloth or towel and put a tight band around it.
3. Store the jar in a warm place. (Temperature- 68ºF to 85ºF)
4. You should keep an eye on the milk till its thick and smells pleasant. In warmer climates, it might
take lesser time.
5. After the texture changes, strain out the Kefir grains (to use it for next batch) and store the Kefir milk in the refrigerator.
Health Benefits Of Kefir
- This milk is filled with vital nutrients and beneficial proteins. That is why it is a great drink for people with weak immunity like people suffering from AIDS, cancer, chronic fatigue etc.
- This milk is highly recommended for premature infants, pregnant or nursing women, young children old people and people with lactase deficiency.
Kombucha is an old traditional beverage that finds its roots in nations like China, Russia, and Germany. This liquid remedy is prepared by fermenting black tea (sweetened) with active cultures of bacteria and yeast. This probiotic drink tastes a bit carbonated and acidic with a hint of sweetness. Historically, this tea was used to treat several ailments like blood pressure, arthritis, hemorrhoids etc. Here is how you can make this beverage at home.3
Preparation Of Kombucha
- A big glass jar
- A wooden stirrer
- A cover for the jar like a paper towel, muslin cloth, or a woven towel
- Rubber band
- Filtered Water (Preferable unchlorinated or unfluoridated)
- Tea Bags
- Starter tea (from the previous batch) or distilled white vinegar
- Kombucha cultures or SCOBY(symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) (easily available in the market)
Steps To Make Kombucha
1. Combine 2-3 cups of hot water with a quarter cup of sugar and mix it well till it dissolves.
2. Now, add 2 tea bags if you are making a one-quarter batch. If you are using a metallic tea ball, then make sure to take it out before you add SCOBY.
3. Remove the tea bags or loose tea by straining.
4. Now add half a cup of the starter tea or distilled white vinegar.
5. Add an active Kombucha SCOBY to it.
6. Cover the jar with a cloth and tightly tie it with a band.
7. Let it sit away from direct sunlight for 7 to 30 days at a temperature between 68ºF to 85ºF. The more it ferments more acidic it will taste.
8. After its done, you can save the bottom liquid as a starter tea and the Kombucha culture for the next batch.
Health Benefits Of Kombucha
- Regular tea is known to have many properties like anti-carcinogenic, anti-microbial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory.
- In additions to these benefits, Kombucha produces anti-microbial activity against several species of bacteria like Helicobacter pylori (responsible for gastric ulcer), Escherichia coli etc.
Disadvantages Of Kombucha
There is a possibility of Kombucha producing toxic effects when consumed in large quantities. In one case, a man was reported dead due to perforation of the intestine and a severe case of acidosis. Thus, individual discretion is required.
3. Kimchi (Fermented Veggies)
Kimchi is a traditional Korean food in which vegetables are fermented with probiotic lactic acid bacteria (LAB). This is generally spicy to taste because ginger, garlic, and red pepper powder are used. But it is up to you what vegetables you want to use.4
Preparation Of Fermented Veggies
- Mason tops fermentation jars or any other fermentation apparatus
- A wooden spoon
- Vegetables of your choice (grated/ shredded/chopped)
- Saltwater or starter cultures for fermentation
Steps To Make Fermented Veggies/Kimchi
1. Place all the vegetable in the fermentation apparatus.
2. Use water to either create brine or LAB culture.
3. Pour this culture-rich water or brine into the mason jar.
4. Move this to a cold storage and keep it there for as long as it takes to ferment.
5. You will know fermentation is done when you notice bubbles, acidic smell but it will have a pleasant taste.
Advantages of Kimchi
- It can promote anti-aging effects.
- It can enhance brain health.
- It can reduce cholesterol.
- It can promote healthy skin.
The wonders of fermentation will never cease to amaze you once you start making it a regular part of your diet. So, give these recipes a try today.
|↑1||Roberfroid, Marcel, Glenn R. Gibson, Lesley Hoyles, Anne L. McCartney, Robert Rastall, Ian Rowland, Danielle Wolvers et al. “Prebiotic effects: metabolic and health benefits.” British Journal of Nutrition 104, no. S2 (2010): S1-S63.|
|↑2||Otles, Semih, and Oz1em Cagindi. “Kefir: a probiotic dairy-composition, nutritional and therapeutic aspects.” Pakistan Journal of Nutrition2, no. 2 (2003): 54-59.|
|↑3||Greenwalt, C. J., K. H. Steinkraus, and R. A. Ledford. “Kombucha, the fermented tea: microbiology, composition, and claimed health effects.” Journal of Food Protection 63, no. 7 (2000): 976-981.|
|↑4||Park, Kun-Young, Ji-Kang Jeong, Young-Eun Lee, and James W. Daily III. “Health benefits of kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) as a probiotic food.” Journal of medicinal food 17, no. 1 (2014): 6-20.|