We all know that eating a balanced diet is one of the keys to vitality and longevity. For most of us this means consuming things like fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, and dairy and grains. But let’s not forget an important element to any healthy diet: fermented foods.
Fermentation is the process of converting carbohydrates (or sugars) into alcohols and organic acids using micro-organisms like yeasts or bacteria. Humans have been controlling the fermentation process in foods for thousands of years. And one of the main purposes of fermenting a food was to preserve it, so that it could be eaten weeks or months later without it ever going bad. This was particularly useful to prepare for times of food scarcity.
But it’s not just preservation that makes fermented foods useful, they also have amazing health benefits. You see, fermentation not only preserves the nutrients in foods, but it also breaks down the food into a more digestible form. Not only that, but when you eat fermented foods, you are introducing all kinds enzymes and probiotics, which are healthy bacteria, into your digestive system. And that can improve your digestion, your bowel health, and strengthen your immune system. Sounds pretty good, huh?
Well, even better is that many of these fermented foods taste great, too! Some of the most common ones are yogurt, kimchee, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, cheese, salami, and so on. Many fermented foods can be made at home, too, which makes them cheap and fresh. And of course, even bread, beer, and wine are made with fermentation.
So I think you can see, adding fermented foods to your diet is something well worth doing if you are not already. I wonder what kind of fermented foods are common where you live? Do you make your own fermented foods at home? What is your favorite fermented food? Let’s talk about it.