Pickled cabbage, blue cheese and cured olives may sound the shopping wishlist of an old aged pensioner, but fermented foods are making a resurgence on the health circuit for a number of ailments.
Fermented foods have long been a recommendation of gut experts as they are good for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and they were also cited as being a great preventative food for type 2 diabetes.
Researchers from Cambridge revealed that products such as yoghurt, fromage frais and cottage cheese, could reduce the risk of developing the condition by 25%.
Quoting Alison Clark, of the British Dietetic Association, it reported: "Between 70 and 80% of our immune cells are in the gut. Fermented foods stimulate bacteria that help with immunity. So for someone who suffers with lots of coughs and colds, they could help."
On HuffPost Taste, Amanda Feifer wrote: "Fermentation predates written history, and probably predates human history and the history of all of the more complex forms of life on the planet. It has definitely been in popular use by humans for millennia and there are even animals that intentionally ferment their food (here's looking at you, pentailed tree shrew)."
So what are fermented foods?
Anything that is aged or cured is fermented, writes Lessley Anderson on Chow, and "essentially, it's a process in which food is exposed to bacteria and yeasts, either via inoculation or naturally through the air. Beneficial microorganisms beat out the kind that can kill you, and eat up the carbohydrates in the food.
"The results are interesting flavors, textures, and smells. Before refrigeration, curing meats, pickling vegetables, and clabbering milk was the only way to extend the life of perishables. And if fermented foods haven’t been cooked, they are really good for you (cooking kills off the beneficial bacteria)."
The reasons why these are good for you is because some contain microbes that help you to absorb the food more easily and some they helped promote the growth of good bacteria, because they contain lactic acid.
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Writing on Doctor Oz, Mao Shing Ni said: "Eating fermented foods, which have effectively been predigested by helpful microorganisms, is easier on the stomach than eating the same foods raw – contributing to better absorption of nutrients. Keep in mind: you can ingest tons of nutrients, but unless your body actually absorbs them, they’re useless to you.
"For instance, cabbage is extremely rich in nutrients, but in raw form, it can be difficult to digest and often causes gas. When cabbage is fermented in the form of kimchi, however, it is much easier to digest and thus, we can more readily assimilate its high amounts of vitamin K and C, as well as the polyphenols and antioxidants. Dairy and hearty vegetables are also made more nutritious and readily digestible by fermentation. Yogurt, kefir and cheese lose most of their lactose in the process of fermentation, which can contribute to easier digestion."
FERMENTED FOODS TO INTRODUCE INTO YOUR DIET
- Sourdough Bread
- Cultured Butter
- Crème fraîche
- Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)