A food historian will tell you that fermented foods have been part of world history and culture for ages. Fermentation is an ancient process of preserving foods to increase its shelf life for food security and safety. Today, studies show that this preservation method can offer a lot of health benefits in the balance of good and bad bacteria in the intestinal gut.
The process of food preservation is done by chemically breaking down substances through the use of microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria that can turn the food into pickles, yogurt, and sauerkraut. Also, alcoholic beverages undergo the same process but do not provide a similar beneficial effect on the gut. According to Dr. Azcarate-Peril, Director of UNC School of Medicine’s Microbiome Core, fermented fruits and vegetables must be part of your healthy diet.
1. Aids in Digestion
This method of food preservation involves the production of probiotics in fermented products. Once it reaches the gut, good bacteria will accumulate in the gut and help solve several digestive ailments. Scientific pieces of evidence show that probiotic is useful in alleviating symptoms of IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, which is a typical digestive problem.
A study done in 274 adults suffering from IBS is asked to consume 125 grams of fermented milk every day for six weeks showed improved symptoms of the frequency of bowel and bloating. The addition of fermented vegetables in your daily meals can help you in case you are experiencing a bout of gut issues.
2. Increase Immune System Response
Bacteria, whether good or bad that thrive inside your gut, will significantly affect your immune system. The probiotic content of fermented foods can aid your immune system in reducing the risk of getting infections. Also, the consumption of these foods that are rich in healthy bacteria can aid in faster recovery. Fermentation also increases nutrient potency in vitamin C, zinc, and iron to promote a strong immune system.
3. Easy Digestion of Food
This food preservation process helps break down food nutrients, making it much easier to digest than unfermented foods. For instance, the lactose found in milk is broken down into simple sugar such as galactose and glucose. This process is beneficial for people suffering from lactose intolerance as they can eat fermented dairy products such as yogurt and kefir.
As you eat a fermented vegetable, it can help the body fight antinutrient compounds like lectins and phytates commonly found in grains, nuts, and seeds that can interfere in nutrient absorption. Fermented legumes have increased absorption of nutrients that make them more nutritious compared to their unfermented counterparts.
4. Prevent Accumulation of Bacteria in the Gut
The process produces lactic acid bacteria that are known to lower the pH in the gut, thus preventing harmful bacteria from thriving inside and attaching on to the intestinal tract walls. The lactic acid can fight bacteria such as E. coli, known as competitive seclusion that prevents unnecessary bacteria from staying inside the gut area. If it does not attach to the gut, then it will be eliminated out of the body.
5. Prevent Risk of Colon Cancer
According to Dr. Azcarate-Peril, many types of research leads to the conclusion that consuming fermented foods can lower the risk of having colon cancer. The main reason is that eating these foods increases butyrate (short-chain fatty acid) in the intestine vital for feeding the cells found in the digestive tract lining. Also, butyrate can block toxins from destroying healthy cells in the colon and aid in cleansing the digestive system.
6. Other Fermentation Benefits
Many studies have proven the benefits of fermentation to health. It can increase mental health according to several studies that linked Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum in the reduction of depression and anxiety symptoms. Both of these are good bacteria that are present in fermented foods.
It can help in weight loss problem, although more researches are needed to prove the claim. The probiotic strains, such as lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, are found effective in reducing fat belly and weight.
Preserved foods are also associated with a decreased risk of heart diseases. The probiotics found in this kind of foods are known to lower blood pressure and LDL or bad cholesterol.