Fermented foods: what they are and benefits

Fermented foods: what they are and benefits


Miso , kefir , yoghurt , fermented vegetables , kombucha tea ,  brewer’s yeast , are all fermented foods that can become part of the daily diet, bringing significant benefits for the whole body. In general, all of them increase the probiotic intake  for the benefit of the intestine and the body’s natural defenses . Fermentation , in addition to preserving food , also helps digestion because the digestion of food is already partly included in the fermentation process. How does fermentation take place? In a nutshell, food is deprived of oxygen and left to macerate in a sterile container, usually glass jars. If salt is added , lactic fermentation takes place , if vinegar is added, acetic fermentation takes place, or by letting the alcoholic ferments develop .

What is a fermented food?

A fermented food is the result of a biochemical process of yeasts and bacteria , or more generally of microorganisms , which colonize the starting product (vegetables, fruit, milk, soy ) and release the energy contained in the sugars or amino acids of the same to be able to use it . The food that has been processed is now much more nutritionally rich.

Fermented foods: what are they?

There are several fermented foods that are regularly part of the daily diet . Some derive from oriental culture, others, instead, from the western and northern European popular tradition. Among the most common we have:

  • Miso :  it is a natural fermented condiment obtained from soy, cereals and whole sea salt widely used for centuries in Japan and China. It is a soft brown -colored pasta that replaces the classic stock cube in the preparation of vegetables , meat or homemade vegetable broth . The dishes, with a small addition, will be so rich in probiotics . Miso regulates intestinal functions and strengthens the immune system .
  • Kimchi: very spicy typical Korean dish based on fermented vegetables: cabbage, radish , cucumber and spring onions with the addition of ginger , chilli pepper , garlic , water and salt.
  • Tempeh : versatile food in the kitchen, especially for vegan or vegetarian food , obtained from the fermentation of cooked soybeans . It looks like a sort of loaf, ideal for preparing stews , chilli and for filling fresh pasta ravioli.
  • Kefir : fermented drink based on milk and water rich in lactic ferments and active probiotics. In large retailers, or in organic supermarkets, you can also find yogurt and kefir-based smoothies. Excellent alternative to cow’s milk or vegetable drinks for breakfast . Does not contain lactose .
  • Sauerkraut : vegetables traditionally consumed in the northernmost regions of Italy and in northern Europe where the cultivation of  cabbage is very common , which is fermented with the addition of salt (not vinegar as the characteristicsour taste might suggest).
  • Kombucha : kombucha tea is a drink of oriental origin which is beneficial for the kidneys , stomach and spleen .
  • Beer
  • Mother yeast : flour , water acidified by the proliferation of yeasts and lactic bacteria which obviously trigger the fermentation. Bread , pizza and leavened products with sourdough are much more digestible than commonbrewer’s yeast doughs .
  • Gherkins


How to ferment vegetables at home

Preparing fermented vegetables at home is not that complicated: just wash, peel (if necessary), and cut the vegetables. The most suitable are: cabbage, celery , carrots , onion . Quantities: 1 kg of vegetables, 10 g of coarse salt and 1 liter of water . The vegetables are squeezed to eliminate the juices, they are closed in a sterilized glass jar , closed and shaken several times a day, but only before fermentation starts, so as to oxygenate the contents. The vegetables will be fermented and to be consumed after about 3 weeks. They keep for about a year. Beware of the botox. Fermented foods can spoil. Attention must be paid to the times and methods of conservation and above all to the botulinum toxin . In reality, if fermentation starts, acidity develops so high (pH 3 or 4) as to inhibit the proliferation of dangerous bacteria.

Properties of fermented foods

 Fermented foods  are good for you and are  especially needed  because of the  probiotics . They improve the quality of our immune system , helping us to prevent disorders especially of the oral and gastro-intestinal systems . Among the general benefits of consuming fermented foods, we find:

  • improve digestion: food is pre-digested, lactic ferments raise the level of vitamins and enzymes ;
  • counteract diarrhea , and irritable bowel syndrome ,
  • they fight weakness and exhaustion .
  • strengthen the immune system;
  • they are anti-inflammatory ;
  • help to lose weight;
  • help absorb vitamin B

Fermented foods: contraindications

These foods are mostly beneficial for health and for intestinal balance, but they should always be consumed in the right moderation. Excessive consumption of fermented foods can have laxative effects and some, such as milk, contain a lot of sugars, even if dairy fermentation  breaks down the levels of complex sugars and lactose present in cheeses , in a natural way.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *