There is plenty of talk about fermenting and its health benefits on wellness websites of late, and to be honest, all talk of things sauerkraut and turning the sugars in food to gas, alcohol and acids only makes me think of a lot of tummy pain and unpleasant gas! In all seriousness though, there are some powerful benefits to be gained from adding fermented foods into your diet regularly, as long as you do not overdo things.
Fermenting has been a food processing technique used for thousands of years to help preserve a range of different foods such as cabbage, pickles, soy and yoghurt. More recently the health benefits of fermented foods have been talked about more frequently after observation that cultures who regularly consume fermented foods in their diet have a lower incidence of a number of chronic health conditions.
Fermented foods are known to offer a number of nutritional benefits including acting as a source of good bacteria in the gut; increasing the number of vitamins in some food; increasing the digestibility of the sugars found in some foods and increasing the availability of some nutrients. As more and more research builds to suggest the vital role gut health plays in overall immune function, the regular consumption of foods rich in probiotics can only be considered a good thing.
There is though a downside that is less frequently discussed – fermenting foods does not necessarily make them taste that great. While some may be a fan of acidic, tangy tasting vegetables or yoghurts, this does not compliment everyone’s palate. The gut side effects from those sensitive to gas producing vegetables such as cabbage too may means that fermented vegetables are not for everyone.
So, if you are after an extra boost of probiotics, and suffer from the IBS symptoms of bloating and gas, by all means add some extra fermented foods into your diet. And if you are feeling particularly keen, you could even make some of your own fermented vegetables, although you should keep in mind that these vegetables are higher in salt than fresh vegetables or salad.
Do you like fermented vegetables? Let me know which you love and any recipes for your own fermented foods.