Are fermented foods healthy for us? They should, right? After all, they are so trendy and everybody say, that they are!
I think that there is not one definite answer to the subject. As with anything else – the key is to keep the balance. After all too much of sour goods can lead to high acidification of the body and too much dark chocolate to indigestion, heartburns or headaches.
From where I stand, with a diet including naturally fermented products on a daily basis, I have noticed improvements both to my physical and mental performance. I sleep better, think better and well.. digest better. I can tell the difference in how much better I can concentrate and far less get tired. And even without clinical results I can tell for sure – fermented foods keep improving the quality of my life.
I gathered 12 most important benefits related to fermented food products and their inclusion into our daily diets.
- Good for a “reduction diet” – digestion of sugars by the yeasts and bacterias in fruits and vegetables lowers the caloric value of the final products. As an example take plain cabbage (33kcal/100g) and sauerkraut (16 kcal/100g); plain cucumber (16 kcal / 100g) and lactofermented sour cucumber (12 kcal / 100g).
- Fermentation increases digestibility of the products by eliminating undesirable compounds (cyanides, thioglycosides) and by reducing the level of anti-nutrition substances (phytic acid, oxalic acids, nitrate) – soaking beans is where fermentation starts. Further processing (ie. turning cooked beans into tempeh) increases the nutrients availability even more.
- Ferments can help in the functionality of the digestive system – regular consumption of fermented food products can improve the digestion and help to restore a well-balanced intestinal microflora, supporting intestinal peristalsis (movement of the guts pushing food down the lane), which is crucial in the prevention and treatment of constipation. Lactic acid bacterias can regulate the composition of human microbiota bringing a beneficial effect on the digestive tract.
- Ferments can help the immunity system – probiotics kill pathogens, proliferate the intestinal microflora, help with the infections, increase immune barrier
- Fermenting stabilizes vitamin C content of the vegetables – preserved vegetables often contain easily absorbable vitamin C in high concentrations
- Ferments contain a lot of strong antioxidants preventing the process of aging and lowering the risk of cancerous disorders
- Ferments contain a lot of vitamins:Vitamin A – very much needed for good sight, preventing infections, stabilizing skin, hair and nail condition;
Vitamin C – boosting the immunity system, lowering the receptivity for viruses and bacterias, helping the circulatory systems (strengthening blood vessels, preventing the formation of bruises and the occurrence of haemorrhages or bleeding gums);
Vitamin E – boosting collagen production, neutralizing free radicals responsible for aging; stimulating circulation, supporting the blood supply to connective tissue, skin and mucous membranes; increasing skin hydration
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – necessary for the metabolism, formation of red blood platelets, production of antibodies by the immune system
Vitamin B3 (niacin) – responsible for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system; involved in the synthesis of sex hormones, cortisol, thyroxine and insulin
- Ferments are a source of many minerals – calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorusCalcium – basic component of bone and teeth, calcium is involved in shrinking and contracting the muscles and the nerve conduction. It reduces the permeability of cell membranes (alleviates food allergies) and is responsible for the proper blood clotting. Calcium is required for the stability of some enzymesIron – necessary for the proper functioning of the body, plays an important role in the functioning and building of the formation of blood cell system and in strengthening our immune system. It is an essential component for transport and storage or the oxygenPotassium – an element that ensures the proper water-electrolyte and acid-base balance of the body. It is essential for the proper functioning of the heart, it also helps to maintain adequate blood pressure and muscle tone also preventing the swelling
Phosphorus (together with calcium and Vitamin D) is responsible for healthy and strong bones. Moreover, it is necessary for good functionality of the nervous system.
- Ferments can lower a cholesterol level – some of the bacterias have the ability of transforming cholesterol into sterols (the good ones – aiding cells in communicating). High content of fiber in many ferments is beneficial for regulating the cholesterol level.
- Ferments can regulate the blood glucose absorption – which is very recommended for the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
- Ferments contain acetylcholine (a compound working in many ways) – it improves intestinal flow, lowers blood pressure and is a neurotransmitter, i.e. supports the transmission of nerve stimuli. Therefore, this substance affects the activity of the heart (lowered heart rate) and digestive tract, but also participates in memory processes and determines the ability to concentrate. It is also responsible for the efficiency of the muscles (less cramps) and the rest of the body.
- Ferments are source of pro- and prebiotics – lactic acid bacterias favorably influence metabolic processes and regulate the composition of the gastrointestinal microflora. The inclusion of ferments in your menu can support the renewal of the bacterial balance, often weakened by an antibiotic therapy or a frequent use of popular painkillers.
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