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There are many ways in which to preserve food, but they aren’t all created equally. Some methods are better than others when it comes to preserving food’s natural properties or even enhancing its nutrients. A method that we often overlook: fermenting. When you hear that word, what comes to mind? Perhaps, the process of making bread or dough? However, fermenting is useful in so many other ways, and incorporating it into our daily diet is really one of the best allies to our immune system.
Fermented foods are foods that have gone through a very specific process that changes its’ flavor while at the same time multiplying its nutritional benefits. During the fermentation process, microorganisms that are healthy for the body are developed making these foods more nutritious and with an added shelf-life since they contain natural preservatives. This bacteria adds to the already existing bacteria in our bodies complimenting each other well and giving our system an extra boost.
Benefits of Fermented Foods
Fermented products reinforce the nutritional power of foods. Some vitamins become more pronounced during the fermentation process, as is the case for varieties of Vitamin B which are very beneficial for our digestive and nervous system as well as with the joints and heart…Another good example is with K2 Vitamins, which are directly linked to the fermentation process. These vitamins are vital for bone health, the heart, and even the blood vessels themselves.
Eating fermented foods help our stomach and intestines. The bacteria in the fermented food makes it easier for our bodies to digest them and doesn’t leave us feeling heavy. This is especially important for people who have digestive issues, such as IBS, constipation, or acid reflux. It’s also important for those of us who simply don’t want to feel heavy after a meal. A little fermented vegetable like sauerkraut is in this sense ideal to pair with meat or fish.
Bacteria from fermented foods increase the biodiversity in the intestines, specifically the gut bacteria. This is key since most of the defenses that our immune system needs are lodged in the intestines. In addition, fermented bacteria also benefits our emotional health and other organ processes. Here are some of the most relevant benefits:
Regulation of the metabolism
Improved brain functions
Strengthening of the immune system
Help pancreatic activity
Intestinal diseases treatment
Added flavor to food
Making Fermented Foods Part Of Your Diet: Do It At Home!
At the supermarket, you can find numerous fermented foods, such as yogurt, or olives. The problem is that these foods often don’t go through the right fermentation process to keep the bacteria alive. For example, if yogurt has been pasteurized or has additives, the bacteria don’t survive. Or like with olives, if they have just been dunked in vinegar and the water to salt ratio isn’t correct. The same is true for store-bought pickles, and sauerkraut: they are not fermented as they should be, so they don’t provide us with those microorganisms which are vital to gut bacteria.
There are numerous varieties of fermented foods. The easiest ones to make at home are with vegetables. Only four simple things are needed:
1 Glass Jar
A vegetable of your liking: cabbage, to make sauerkraut, cucumber, or any vegetable mix….
Water (cabbage, naturally releases its own liquid)
Sauerkraut And Other Fermented Vegetables: Easiest Option
You can try making Sauerkraut, which is quintessential to fermented foods and is the king as a side dish to many traditional, culinary, European dishes. The cabbage takes on a different flavor, it’s more intense and less sweet and has a much crispier texture. All you need to do is cut the cabbage into thin strips and sprinkle with salt. Then had mix it until the liquid is naturally released from the cabbage. Then place it into a glass jar, push it down well, and then cover with water. After 3-10 days, the color will start to turn whitish, and the texture will also start to change. When you see bubbles starting to appear, that’s how you know it’s ready.
If you prefer another kind of vegetable, the fermentation process is quite similar, just with less water. A good combo is cucumber, pepper, and onion. After chopping the vegetables into thin slices, sprinkle them with salt and then soak them in water so that they ferment. This is a great way to enjoy vegetables for longer, as they spend several days in essentially a vinegar mix, and therefore can be eaten for many days after the fermentation process. A good trick is to add spices or seeds into the mix. A touch of oregano or anything spicy will give it a different flavor to the fermented one.
Yogurts and Kefir: Fermented Milk
We can’t forget about fermented yogurts and milk. The yogurt is made by fermenting milk with specific dairy bacterias, which can then be mixed with fruit for different flavors. To make a truly fermented product, we have to forget the traditional process of pasteurizing milk which kills the bacteria.
Yeast can be bought in your local natural food store or, online. Depending on the yeast you buy the time to make the yogurt can vary, however, each packet of yeast indicates the time needed. Yogurts can be made in a yogurt maker, oven, or with a Kitchenaid. Feel free to add milk powder or cream to give it a different flavor and consistency.
Kefir looks similar to yogurt, but it’s got a more acidic taste due to the way it’s fermented. Because of the way, it’s made it makes for a better aid for digestion. There is a particular kind of yeast to make Kefir: white with a very lumpy texture that mixes in with the milk. The mixture is then left in a jar to ferment for about 24-48 hours at room temperature. After that, it needs to be strained in order to remove the Kefir from the lumps.
Fermented Drinks: Kombucha
You can also choose a drink like Kombucha which has become the latest food sensation. It’s a kind of sweetened tea, made by boiling water, mixed with a natural sweetener, the kind of tea you want, and a little previously-made kombucha, and “SCOBY”: a mixture of bacteria and yeast. Fruit slices, like an orange or grated ginger, can be added to the liquid. This fermented drink comes from an ancient Chinese tradition and is an excellent alternative to soft drinks.
In short, fermented foods are essential for our bodies to function as they should. Consuming fermented foods strengthens your immune system thanks to the added bacteria to our already existing gut bacteria. Besides that, it also makes us feel less heavy during the digestion period, giving us a sense of better well-being. In this video, we summarize the importance of fermentation. So, if you dare to try any of these let us know in the comments below!
If you liked this article on fermented foods, check out these other great articles:
What should I eat to boost my immune system?
Avoiding Carbs: The best option during lockdown
Collagen in Food: Beyond Cosmetic Use
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