The What and Why of Fermented Foods
What are they?
Fermented foods have been a part of many cultures for centuries.
The process of fermenting involves culturing good bacteria in food. This process acts a safer and more beneficial way of preserving foods as opposed to canning.
Examples of commonly eaten fermented foods are Kimchi, Kombucha, Kefir, Yogurt, and Sauerkraut.
While these are more commonly known foods, most foods can be fermented (if you know what you’re doing).
Why Should You Eat Them?
These delicious foods offer a variety of health benefits making them a popular food staple around the world.
If done correctly, fermenting foods can introduce beneficial bacteria (probiotics). These probiotics will increase nutrient bioavailability and provide a wide variety of other health benefits.
The probiotics increase nutrient bioavailability by partially digesting the food components.
A study comparing the nutrient content of non-fermented and fermented foods found that foods increased in calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron bioavailability after fermentation (Somvanshi et al. 10).
This means the body will absorb more of the nutrients from a fermented food as opposed to its non-fermented alternate.
This partial digestion of food components not only increases nutrient absorption but also improves digestion.
While found to increase nutrient content and bioavailability, fermented foods have additional beneficial traits too.
The naturally occurring good bacteria in ferments can boost your immune system and heal the gut (Boon 3).
While purely anecdotal, I swear by fermented foods in regard to my gut health. My grandma will tell you drinking kombucha helps with her arthritis and inflammation.
More research needs to be done on the beneficial impacts of probiotics and fermented foods. However, despite this, there are many people with anecdotal stories on how probiotics help them feel better.
Ultimately, probiotics are an easy way to:
◊ Safely preserve food
◊ Improve micronutrient consumption
◊ Improve digestion
◊ Boost the immune system
As a huge supporter of fermentation, I highly recommend that people incorporate fermented foods into their diet. Not only are they delicious but they are a great way to experience other cultural food staples that have been around for ages.
Additionally, the potential health benefits make it worth adding them to your dietary habits.
I look forward to more solid findings related to fermented food consumption in the future as I believe these foods are under-utilized in society today. Until then, I’m going to keep on sipping on my Fermented Ginger Soda!
Let me know if you eat fermented products in the comments below!
Boon, Yap Wei and Sujang, Rina Anak. “The Health Benefits of Probiotics.” [“Kebaikan Probiotik kepada Kesihatan”]. Malaysian Journal of Health Sciences / Jurnal Sains Kesihatan Malaysia, vol. 12, no. 2, July 2014, pp. 41-44. EBSCOhost,
Somvanshi, Amisha, et al. “Effect of Microbial Fermentation and Processing on Nutritional and Antinutritional Properties of Selected Fermented Foods.” Asian Journal of Research in Chemistry, vol. 10, no. 4, Jul/Aug2017, pp. 531-540. EBSCOhost,