The Health Benefits of Fermented Food Products

Although they have been known in Europe for a relatively short time, the truth is that fermented foods have existed for several thousand years. They are very beneficial foods, which improve the transit of the digestive system and improve the health of the intestinal flora.

What are fermented foods?

To understand what fermented foods are, the first thing to rethink is what fermentation is. The process of transformation that food undergoes due to the action of yeasts and bacteria is known as such.

During this process, sugars are converted into gas, acids or alcohol, which act as organic food preservatives. Since ancient times, humans have been using fermentation to keep food in perfect condition for a long period of time.

Although there are many who do not know it, the truth is that we consume numerous fermented feeds daily: bread, cheese, beer, pickles...

In recent years, much more exotic foods have landed on the European market, such as tempeh, kefir or kombucha. Foods that help take care of health and that succeed worldwide.

Are they easy to assimilate by the body?

Fermented foods are partially broken down and are very easy to digest. And this is precisely one of the great benefits they offer.

In addition, nutrient losses are practically nil and protein digestibility is much higher. They also offer greater bioavailability of certain nutrients, such as minerals. This is explained because the fermentation process generates the hydrolysis of phytic acid, which in turn favors the absorption of minerals as important to the body as iron.

The fermentation technique in history

The fermentation technique dates back more than 20,000 years in Asia. Although in the West they have been known for relatively recently, in the East foods such as miso or soy have been consumed since ancient times.

Throughout history, other civilizations, such as the Egyptians, also consumed fermented foods, mainly for two reasons. First, for its properties and benefits. And, secondly, because they could save their food reserves for long periods of time.

Fermented foods are now common throughout the world. And, in addition to providing healthy bacteria to the intestine, they favor intestinal transit and strengthen the immune system.

Fermented foods and intestinal health

The main benefits of fermented foods have to do with intestinal health. It has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They increase the diversity of bacteria in the intestine, which is essential for the intestinal flora to be in perfect condition.

Why are fermented foods good?

The vast majority of benefits provided by fermented foods are related to the digestive system. In addition to having a high nutritional value, they also favor the absorption of nutrients.

About the benefits of these foods can be grouped into three families.

Biological: fermentation inhibits the growth and proliferation of toxins due to the pathogenic bacteria it contains.

Chemicals: this process helps maintain the quality and natural properties of food.

Nutritional: on the nutritional benefits, the amount of carbohydrates are lower since they are the most important source of energy for microorganisms. This makes them easier to digest.

Digestive system

These foods provide beneficial microorganisms for the intestines, thus improving the health of the intestinal flora. In addition, it should be borne in mind that fermented foods have been partially pre-digested by yeasts or bacteria, so they are very easy to digest.

Vitamins

Fermentation significantly increases the presence of essential vitamins for the proper functioning of the immune system, especially several of group B and K2.

Vitamin K2 is a very important nutrient for the health of the bones and the cardiovascular system. It is very complicated to find in unfermented foods.

Immune system

Another benefit of fermented foods is that they strengthen the immune system, thus reducing the risk of various diseases, such as the flu or the cold.

How to take fermented foods?

It must be taken into account that the process of preparation and subsequent preservation of food results in various physical and chemical changes. To give a simple example, lycopene present in tomatoes is more available when consumed cooked. Meanwhile, polyphenols are more available when food is taken raw.

Regarding fermented foods, in the vast majority of cases there is an increase in nutritional value due to the synthesis of vitamins of group B and proteins. Kimchi offers greater bioavailability of vitamins and minerals thanks to fermentation.

On whether these foods can be taken daily, it all depends on the amount of salt. Those products with less than 0.25 grams of salt per 100 grams of product, such as kefir, can be taken twice a day. It is essential to know what the healthiest foods are.