For centuries, fermentation has been used as a means of preserving food and beverages. During the fermentation process, microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast or fungi convert organic compounds - such as sugars and starch - into alcohol or acids, which act as natural preservatives.
But fermentation has health benefits that go beyond food preservation. The processing of sugars and starches enhances the content of natural and beneficial bacteria present in foods. And it is being demonstrated more and more: these bacteria, called probiotics or “good” bacteria , have numerous health benefits.
The main benefits of fermentation:
- It makes food more nutritious and more digestible (the bacteria has done some of the digestion for you).
- It increases the presence of important vitamins, such as B vitamins and vitamin K2, which are difficult to find elsewhere.
- It allows you to obtain a wide variety of natural probiotics which will repopulate your intestines, regulate inflammation and optimize the effectiveness of the immune system , since 70% of our defenses are found in the digestive tract.
The best sources of natural probiotics:
Sauerkraut : it is obtained by fermenting cabbage (in a jar with a lid, for example). It is very rich in antioxidant vitamin C and isothiocyanate, with anti-cancer properties. Traditionally fermented sauerkraut offers a greater diversity of bacteria (probiotics) than any other supplement. Be careful, however, with commercial versions which are often preserved in vinegar, which deprives them of many benefits. The best option remains that of home fermentation.
Kimchi: a classic of Korean cuisine, obtained by fermenting Chinese cabbage. In addition to the benefits of fermented cabbage, there are also the benefits of the ingredients that are part of the preparation, such as ginger or garlic. Various studies highlight its benefits on colorectal and cognitive health, as well as its anticancer and antioxidant properties.
Vegetable pickles: gherkins or olives are the best known, although the benefits of those found commercially are limited due to their vinegar content. It is nevertheless possible to adopt lacto-fermentation yourself with a multitude of vegetables (carrots, salad, etc.) and obtain a very tasty result.
Yogurts : in addition to reducing lactose content, milk fermentation increases the availability of nutrients such as biotin, vitamin B12 and linoleic acid (omega-6). It also increases the amount of certain amino acids, such as proline and glycine, important for collagen synthesis. As a general rule, avoid those that contain more than three ingredients, and favor those that come from free-range, grass-fed animals.
Kefir : as it is a longer fermented yogurt, its benefits and bacterial diversity are increased. It also has remarkable anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Miso and tempeh: they come from the fermentation of soy which causes a reduction in anti-nutrients, which can trap certain minerals, prevent their absorption, irritate the intestinal walls and be a source of inflammation. They are a good source of plant-based protein.
- Kombucha: this is a fermented tea (drink), consumed in China for more than 2,000 years, which has antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, and anticancer properties due to its glycolic acid content.