Due to their numerous health benefits, fermented foods have seen a significant rise in popularity in recent years.
If you have ever seen a naturopath for digestive problems, you may already be eating fermented foods as part of your treatment plan.
But did you know that the health benefits of fermented foods go far beyond digestive health?
For this reason, naturopathic doctors frequently recommend fermented foods to their patients as part of their naturopathic diet plans and nutritional counseling.
I’m Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga, and today I’m here to talk about fermented foods.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what fermented foods are, their various health benefits, and how you can add more to your diet.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Fermentation?
Fermentation is a chemical process where microbial growth, such as bacteria or yeast, work to break down food molecules, such as sugar.
As a result, the sugar molecules morph into other products, such as organic acids, gases, or alcohol.
What Are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods are food or beverages that have undergone this process.
There are many different types of fermented foods, but the more popular ones include:
- Probiotic yogurt
Due to the fermentation process, fermented foods typically have unique taste, smell, texture, and appearance.
How Can Fermented Foods Improve Your Health?
While the types of foods that are commonly fermented are typically already healthy in their original form, they have the potential to carry additional health benefits after fermentation.
Let’s take a closer look at some of those benefits.
1. They Help Good Bacteria Grow (And Fight Bad Bacteria)
Not all bacteria are bad for you.
In fact, your body needs a certain number of good bacteria to help maintain a healthy immune system.
Adding fermented foods to your diet can help support the population of good bacteria in your body.
For example, the good bacteria found in fermented foods may help lower your intestinal pH levels, which subsequently decreases the survival rate of bacteria that cause diseases.
2. They Help You Digest Food
Your body also needs good bacteria to help break down and digest complex carbohydrates.
Without a diverse population of good bacteria in your digestive tract, you may be more likely to develop certain chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Also, eating foods that contain plenty of soluble fiber, such as beans and oats, can contribute to better digestive health.
If you’re dealing with digestive issues, don’t be surprised if a naturopath for digestive problems recommends including more fermented foods in your diet.
3. They Help You Recover From Antibiotics
Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria in your body; however, they aren’t so good at differentiating the bad bacteria from the good.
Subsequently, taking a round of antibiotics often comes with digestive side effectives, such as diarrhea.
Adding fermented foods to your diet is a great way to recover after a round of antibiotics, since they can help raise your body’s good bacteria levels back to normal.
4. They Can Improve Mental Health
In addition to physical health, the good bacteria found in fermented foods may help to improve your mental health as well.
A 2020 research paper published in Nutritional Neuroscience suggests a potential connection between fermented foods and the improvement of mental disorders.
While more research is needed before this connection can be confirmed, the research is certainly promising.
5. They Can Help Your Body Produce Vitamins
If you weren’t already amazed by their diverse health benefits, you may be impressed to learn that fermented foods can also help your body produce essential vitamins, particularly B complex vitamins.
Vitamins that fermented food can help to produce include:
Top Fermented Food
Now that you have learned all about the diverse health benefits of fermented food, you may be wondering how to go about adding more to your diet.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of fermented foods.
Kimchi is a Korean side dish traditionally made from fermented cabbage or other vegetables.
Research points to a link between eating kimchi and decreased insulin resistance, a precursor condition to type 2 diabetes
Therefore, people diagnosed with prediabetes may especially benefit from adding kimchi to their diets.
Other health benefits of kimchi include:
Kombucha is a type of fermented drink traditionally made from green tea or black tea.
Kombucha is particularly helpful in preventing liver toxicity and damage due to harmful chemical exposure.
Other health benefits of kombucha include:
- Reduced blood sugar levels
- Reduced triglycerides levels
- Reduced cholesterol levels
Sauerkraut is a common condiment made of fermented shredded cabbage.
Sauerkraut is low in calories and contains large amounts of fibre, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
4. Other Fermented Foods
Other types of fermented foods that provide health benefits include:
- Kefir, a cultured dairy produce made by adding kefir grains to milk
- Tempeh, a high protein meat substitute made from pressed fermented soybeans
- Natto, a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans
- Miso, a Japanese seasoning made by mixing fermented soybeans with salt and koji, a type of fungus
Book Your Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today
If you want to learn more about naturopathic diet plans and fermented foods, we can help.
At The Mindful Healing Clinic, we can develop a nutrition and lifestyle plan that fits your needs.
Book an appointment with The Mindful Healing Clinic today to get started.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.