You might have heard that fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, yogurt with live and active cultures, kimchi and miso are good for you. But do you know how they’re made and why they are considered healthy?
Fermentation has long been used to preserve food in a way that the nutritional value of the food remains intact. It’s a chemical process that also helps by making the foods that are fermented easier to digest. German sauerkraut is a classic example of a fermented food.
Fermented foods are chock-full of the kind of bacteria that your body needs for superior digestion. These good bacteria live in our digestive system and are sometimes referred to as probiotics. So what can they do for you?
The better balanced the bacteria are in your digestive system, the more nutrients your body is going to be able to extract from the food you eat. That means that you’ll be getting more nutritional bang from the healthy foods you’re already eating when you include some fermented foods in your diet.
Also, because fermentation was originally developed as a way to store foods for the winter, the fermentation process, sometimes called lacto-fermentation, helps foods keep longer in your kitchen.
Using some sea salt and whey (which is a dairy product) to speed the fermentation process, many fermented foods can be made at home inexpensively. In addition to knowing exactly what’s in your food, it’s much more affordable to eat foods you fermented yourself than to buy them already prepared. Think of the money you can save on probiotics and digestive enzyme supplements.
Fermented foods can have a strong taste, so you might want to start with something familiar, like sauerkraut. Here’s a recipe that requires very few ingredients and can be made with anywhere from a few heads of cabbage to up to 25 heads. Note that patience is required for making fermented foods.
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Rebeca Espinoza writes about health, fitness and weight loss for Spatz Medical, makers of the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon. You can find her on Google+ or at firstname.lastname@example.org.