Before the days of refrigeration, fermentation was the most common way to preserve food and was a very important practice. Nowadays, fermented foods have regained popularity once more due to their positive effect on our microbiome. Have you heard of the term microbiome before but you’re not entirely sure what it means? Don’t fret! Microbiome is a fancy term for our resident bacteria, viruses and other microbes that have colonized the gastrointestinal system. Fermented food is rich in beneficial bacteria called probiotics that help to nourish our microbiome by increasing our levels of “good” bacteria. This can lead to health benefits such as improved digestion, mental health, and immune function.1 Before we get into fascinating world of fermented foods, remember that the research surrounding fermented foods and their impact on our health is still new! Specific doses and strains of the probiotics in fermented foods appear to provide different benefits.1 Stay tuned as the research evolves and our understanding of probiotics deepens. In the meantime, enjoy a few servings a week of fermented foods on top of a balanced diet.

During the fermentation process, the natural bacteria in foods such as fruits, vegetables and milk are deprived of air. This suppresses the growth of microbes that would normally cause spoilage. These natural bacteria convert the carbohydrates in food into an acid that becomes the ideal environment to preserve that food. This is what makes fermentation such a great method of preservation. This process creates probiotics, the good bacteria that has such a positive effect on our microbiome.2

Let’s take a look at some of the most common fermented foods. Yogurt is a fermented food made from milk and is created when bacteria turns lactose, the naturally occurring sugar in milk, into lactic acid.3 Kefir is a fermented dairy beverage similar to yogurt, but with a thinner texture. When choosing yogurt and Kefir at the store, look on the label for varieties that contain no added sugar. Yogurt and kefir are excellent on their own, mixed into smoothies, or eaten with cereal. Along with yogurt and kefir, fermented products such as sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), tempeh (fermented soybean) and kimchi (fermented Korean vegetable dish) are tasty choices.4

When it comes to enjoying fermented foods, we have a few tips and tricks. Remember that heat destroys a lot of the good bacteria in fermented foods. So, choose fermented foods that are kept in the refrigerated section of the grocery store rather than the jars of fermented foods that have often heat-treated to be made shelf-stable.4 For example, Sauerkraut found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket will contain more probiotics than the jars of Sauerkraut on store shelves. Once you bring your fermented food home, try not to cook it. This will also destroy the beneficial bacteria.Keeping these tips in mind, we hope that you enjoy fermented foods!

  1. The Pros on Probiotics (2016) http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Digestion/The-Pros-of-Probiotics.aspx
  2. What’s the Difference Between Pickling and Fermenting? (2016) https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-pickling-and-fermenting-229536
  3. How to Expertly Navigate the Grocery Aisle (2015) http://dieteticdirections.com/how-to-expertly-navigate-the-yogurt-aisle/
  4. Ask a Dietitian: What’s all the fuss about fermented food? (2016) http://www.parentscanada.com/health/ask-a-dietitian-what-s-all-the-fuss-about-fermented-foods

Monday, April 16, 2018 in ,
Share: Twitter, Facebook