People tend to stay away from fermented foods because they often have a strong taste and smell that many find unappealing, but don’t let that scare you off them. Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that help maintain and promote a healthy gut.
Dr. Robert Hutkins, who is a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studies the link between fermented foods and human health. His early research suggests that live bacteria break down sugars and starch, converting them into alcohol and acids. This makes it easier for your body to digest and absorb nutrients.
Maintaining a healthy gut is important because the 100 trillion microorganisms that live in it affect your health. While the role this gut bacteria plays in your health is not fully understood, researchers have discovered that the bacteria impact your metabolism and your immune system. It may also factor into the development of some cancers, obesity, and diabetes. By eating fermented foods, you are promoting the growth of the good ones and inhibiting the growth of bad ones, especially if you replace those sugary foods with fermented foods.
While fermented foods are good for your health, not all are created equal. Those found in the jarred and canned aisles of the supermarket won’t provide you with the desired benefits because these products undergo heat processing, which kills all the beneficial bacteria.
If you’re looking to add fermented foods to your diet, there are many options. You can drink fermented drinks like kefir, a fermented milk beverage, or kombucha, which is a fermented sweet tea. For those that don’t want to drink a fermented beverage, options include sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, miso, and tempeh. Miso and tempeh are both made from fermented soybeans. The former is a paste, while the latter binds the soybeans into a cake that is often used as a meat alternative.
Regardless of how you decide to add fermented foods to your diet, you will feel healthier as you foster the growth of good bacteria and eliminate the bad ones from your gut.