Today, we are rediscovering the many health benefits of this ancestral mode of food preservation. Lacto-Fermented foods in particular help boost its intestinal flora. In this guide, you will find some Health Benefits of Fermented Foods.
- What is fermented food?
- Health benefits of fermentation?
- What foods can ferment?
- Several types of food fermentation
- How to get fermented food?
Microbes, bacteria, yeasts … constitute the intestinal flora, or more precisely the intestinal “microbiota”, which designates this set of microorganisms and has a significant impact on our physical and even mental health. It promotes good digestion, allows the synthesis of certain vitamins (B and K), ensures the proper functioning of the intestinal barrier and the development of the immune system.
Recent studies evoke its influence in many pathologies: various neurological disorders, ranging from stress to depression, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity … Modulating the microbiota to prevent, or even treat these pathologies, represents a promising line of research. Hence the interest in feeding it well to make it as effective as possible! And why not with fermented foods?
The sauerkraut, the yoghurt, the sourdough bread or pickles are fermented foods. These are “live” foods which have the advantage of improving flavours and nutrients thanks to this method of preservation. These foods will undergo a transformation under the action of a ferment, naturally present or inoculated by humans (rennet, kefir, leaven …) which causes a “positive degradation”, also qualified as ripening.
Foods become more and more acidic (change in pH), which prevents putrefaction (negative degradation) and the development of undesirable bacteria, yeasts and fungi. When the pH is sufficiently acidic (around 4), the preparation becomes stable and can be kept for a long time. At the same time, food produces beneficial substances, such as probiotics.
Used for thousands of years, fermentation is used primarily to preserve food . It has also enabled populations to survive during periods of famine and during epidemics. In addition to its undeniable ecological side, since it requires no energy, it is indeed the most economical way to conserve food and fight against food waste.
Above all, fermentation is a great way to improve the quality of original foods and boost their health benefits.
- It improves the digestibility of food and its assimilation. It is a predigestion, which is done thanks to the enzymes produces during fermentation. For example, the fibres of fermented vegetables are less irritating to the intestines.
- Allows better assimilation of nutrients (vitamins, mineral salts, such as manganese, calcium, potassium … without acidifying the body.
- It destroys certain harmful substances, such as phytic acid in whole grains.
- Allows “good” protective bacteria, like probiotics, to proliferate.
- It also multiplies the levels of vitamins (sauerkraut is much richer in vitamin C than the initial cabbage), it increases the antioxidant potential and the polyphenol content of the food.
- Additionally, changes the flavour, smell, texture and appearance. It is the famous “maturing” which improves a cheese, a wine …
- All vegetables (except the potato) like the cabbage in sauerkraut for the best known,
- Fruits in wine or in the form of chutney
- Cereals (sourdough bread),
- The legumes (chickpeas, soy …)
- Dairy products (yoghurts, cheeses …),
- Fish, meats (sausage …).
There are several types of fermentation: lactic fermentation, also called Lacto-Fermentation (other vegetables, yoghurts, kefirs, sourdough bread …), alcoholic, acetic (vinegar), alkaline (soy sauce) fermentation.
The best known is Lacto-fermentation, which you can carry out at home easily. Especially for vegetables because it does not require the addition of any ferment. Only water, salt and vegetables!
The principle is simple, whole vegetables, in pieces, salt and water in a tightly closed jar. Then, it is necessary to reserve at room temperature and let the fermentation process operate, a few days or several weeks, before tasting.
“Once opened, keep the jar, this time in the refrigerator, otherwise a veil will form on the surface. It is harmless, but it is not pleasant to see or taste it. What if fermentation hasn’t happened? “We notice it immediately because there is a foul smell that does not make you want to eat it!”
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Health Benefits of Fermented foods