By Michelle Lauer, Certified Nutritional Practitioner
From grocery stores to farmers’ markets, sauerkraut and kombucha seem to be everywhere we look these days. No longer just found in health food stores, more and more people are adding these beneficial fermented foods to their plates. It turns out these functional foods, such as tangy kimchi and our beloved kombucha are actually not new at all. These foods have been celebrated for hundreds of years by traditional cultures all over the world. With sauerkraut originating from Germany and kimchi from Korea, there are so many cultural traditions around fermenting.
These traditional foods have undergone what’s referred to as lacto fermentation, a process where naturally-occurring bacteria feed off sugar and starch, creating lactic acid, beneficial enzymes, B vitamins and all those amazing probiotics. All these guys help the trillions of bacteria living in your digestive tract perform their best. The best part? You can make this all happen in your own kitchen with some fresh produce and the right tools. Here are 9 reasons why we are falling in love with fermented foods all over again!
- These foods are packed with gut-healing probiotics. Loaded with beneficial bacteria, traditionally fermented foods fill your gut with bacteria strains that have been linked to improved immunity, and mental and skin health.
- Fermentation breaks food into a more digestible, absorbable form. When we consume fermented vegetables such as cabbage for sauerkraut, our digestive system has an easier time doing its job, since the enzymes created during fermentation have kick-started the process for us.
- It boosts the nutritional value by increasing the availability of the vitamins and minerals. The beneficial enzymes that are created during the process actually increase the bioavailability of the nutrients in the veggies we ferment.
- The process removes anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid. Phytic acid, a compound that naturally occurs in foods like legumes and seeds, can actually inhibit the absorption of essential nutrients like zinc, iron and calcium. Fermenting these foods can actually neutralize this anti-nutrient so you can absorb all the good stuff.
- It preserves foods for longer and can reduce food waste. Properly fermented foods can last for months in the fridge, instead of a week or two!
- Fermentation helps to support optimal immunity. Did you know that so much of our immune system lives in our gut? By consuming the beneficial enzymes and bacteria from fermented foods, we are giving our immune systems lots of love and support!
- Consuming fermented foods regularly can help improve mood. Not only will fermenting your own food put you in a good mood, but research has also recently shown that there is a strong connection between gut health and the health of our brain. One of our happy hormones, known as serotonin, is primarily manufactured in our gut. Great gut bacteria = happy mood.
- It’s a great way to use up seasonal produce from the farmers’ market. Looking for a way to use all those beautiful beets and carrots you got from your local market this weekend? Ferment them!
- We carry 2 super easy to use kits at terra20! Whether you are a seasoned fermentor or new to the game, Kilner and Recap fermentation DIY kits make including more fermented foods in your diet a breeze! They also come with their recipes for a perfect batch the first time around!
Kilner® Fermentation Set