How To Ferment Foods
What are fermented foods exactly? When a food is fermented, it means that its left to sit and steep until the sugars and carbs that the food naturally contains interact with bacteria, yeast and microbes to change the chemical structure of the food.
The definition of fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat. The process of fermentation converts compounds, such as a carbohydrate, including vegetables and sugar, to carbon dioxide and alcohol to an organic acid.
According to recent studies, most fermented products have been found to contain at least 1 million microbial cells per gram, with amounts varying depending on variables such as the foods region, age and time at which it was consumed.
The fermentation of foods such as milk and vegetables is also a great way to preserve them for a longer period of time and to make their nutrients more bioavailable .
How Is Yogurt Fermented, and How Are Fermented Veggies Made?
According to the Milk Facts website, yogurt is made with a starter culture that ferments lactose and turns it into lactic acid, which is partially responsible for yogurts tangy flavor. Lactic acid decreases pH of milk, causes it to clot and thicken, and gives it a smooth texture.
How Often Should You Eat Fermented Foods?
Its best to eat a variety of different fermented foods, since each one offers different beneficial bacteria.
Probiotics Contain Beneficial Bacteria
Probiotics are live organisms that, when consumed, add to the population of good bacteria in your gut. When beneficial bacteria are numerous and thriving, it helps keep the bad bacteria in check, a balance that is fundamental to our health and wellbeing. Probiotics are made of both bacteria and yeast, with the most common being lactobacillus, bifidobacterium, and saccharomyces boulardii. Just like prebiotics, there are many natural food sources for probiotics in addition to supplements. Yogurt is probably the most well-known source, but there are many other probiotic-rich foods, including kefir, miso, tempeh, kombucha, buttermilk, sourdough, sauerkraut, some fermented pickles, and beer. What these foods all have in common is that they go through a fermentation process.
Why Is Gut Health Important
For your digestive system, mental well-being and immune system to be healthy, you need a healthy gut, says Tolbert. Poor gut health could be why we see so many digestive issues, cancers and chronic diseases in our society.
People are born with a healthy flora of bacteria in the GI tract, but as they age and their diet gets off balance, unhealthy bacteria can flourish. Tolbert says the standard American diet contains many foods that upset gut health, including processed, sugary, high-fat and fried foods.
Your gut health can affect your:
Mental health.The gut produces serotonin, which affects your mood, she says. This is why researchers refer to the gut as the second brain. Studies have found that people who have depression or anxiety start to feel better when they have a healthier gut microbiome.
Appetite and weight.Gut health also plays a role in weight management because the hormones that regulate hunger and appetite are produced in the gut, she explains.
Immune system.One study that found that ICU patients who were given probiotics had a quicker recovery than those who did not receive probiotics, she says. Research has also shown a connection between too many unhealthy bacteria in the gut microbiome and autoimmune conditions like Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis.
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Microbe Diversity Stable In Fiber
By contrast, none of these 19 inflammatory proteins decreased in participants assigned to a high-fiber diet rich in legumes, seeds, whole grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits. On average, the diversity of their gut microbes also remained stable. We expected high fiber to have a more universally beneficial effect and increase microbiota diversity, said Erica Sonnenburg, PhD, a senior research scientist in basic life sciences, microbiology and immunology. The data suggest that increased fiber intake alone over a short time period is insufficient to increase microbiota diversity.
The study published online July 12 in Cell. Justin and Erica Sonnenburg and Christopher Gardner are co-senior authors. The lead authors are Hannah Wastyk, a PhD student in bioengineering, and former postdoctoral scholar Gabriela Fragiadakis, PhD, who is now an assistant professor of medicine at UC-San Francisco.
A wide body of evidence has demonstrated that diet shapes the gut microbiome, which can affect the immune system and overall health. According to Gardner, low microbiome diversity has been linked to obesity and diabetes.
We wanted to conduct a proof-of-concept study that could test whether microbiota-targeted food could be an avenue for combatting the overwhelming rise in chronic inflammatory diseases, Gardner said.
What Is The Microbiome And How Does It Impact Our Health
The gastrointestinal tract is full of bacteria, fungi, and even viruses. The activity and composition of these microorganisms are collectively known as the gut microbiota or microbiome.
Probiotics, which are found in fermented foods such as cultured milk and yogurt, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, and brine drinks, are live microorganisms that experts believe can help improve the diversity of the microbiome, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Fiber rich foods, on the other hand, contain prebiotics. These indigestible fibers are found in grains, fruits and vegetables, and also help feed the good bacteria in your gut, according to the UMass Center for Applied Nutrition.
So why is diversity in our gut a good thing? For starters, less diversity is associated with chronic inflammatory conditions like obesity and diabetes.
When the microbiome is less diverse, it could lead to certain bacteria outgrowing others and potentially secreting enzymes that lead to inflammation and other negative effects, explains C. Scott Mahan, MD, chief of medicine at Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, North Carolina, and coauthor of the textbook Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple. Dr. Mahan was not involved in the study.
Even our own immune system could react to this imbalance by immune cells secreting enzymes which cause inflammation, says Mahan.
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Evidence Of Fermented Foods That Modulate The Gut Microbiome
Thus, fermented foods have been shown to have the capacity to modify gut microbiome populations, although it can often be unclear as to how these changes are brought about. While this has been shown in the above examples for a myriad of different fermented food types, the results cannot be directly compared due to highly variable parameters, including the use of both healthy and disease models and the various methods by which microbes are quantified. Fermented foods may interfere with the gut microbiome through its own microbiome or through the nutrients present in its matrix. Therefore, in an effort to provide objective evidence that clearly demonstrates whether or not fermented foods can modulate the human gut microbiome, more in-depth and well-defined human feeding studies need to be undertaken. In these studies, the microbiomes of both the fermented food and the human gut need to be established using the most advanced and sensitive tools available in order to permit changes at both the genus and the species level to be determined.
Prebiotics Feed Beneficial Bacteria
Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers that would be indigestible if it werent for the good bacteria in the gut. Since we cant digest them on our own, they survive the journey through the digestive tract until they meet up with the beneficial bacteria in the colon. Here, the healthy bacteria break down the plant fibers and use them to grow and thrive. Although you can find prebiotic supplements on the market, its best to go directly to the source and consume a variety of foods that contain them. Onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, soybeans, bananas, apples, barley, oats, quinoa, wheat bran, and seaweed are excellent sources.
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Why Fermented Foods Boost Gut Health + Pickle Recipe
Boost Beneficial Gut Bacteria by Making Fermenting Foods at Home for Gut Health. We included a Homemade Fermented Pickle Recipe thats beyond EASY to make!
In the summer of 1982, I took a once-in-a-lifetime trip with my Mom: a ten-day white water rafting excursion down the Colorado River. I was sixteen, experiencing the Grand Canyon up close and personal. I took home memories of lizards crawling across my stomach at night while we camped out in the open and photographs of beautiful landscapes and rapids. But, unfortunately, my mother took home something quite different: an intestinal parasite called giardia.
This intestinal parasite, along with the antibiotics used to treat it, radically disrupted the balance of good and bad microorganisms in her gut. Because of this imbalance in her microbiota, or gut bacteria, my mother experienced gastrointestinal issues for years. While some of the symptoms are still lingering to this day nearly forty years later.
Why Bacteria Might Be The Secret To Ultimate Health
Laura Fisher is a sustainability and health professional with a passion for good food, the outdoors, and fitness. She has a Masters degree from NYU in Environmental Education and is a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She can be reached at: email@example.com.
Haley is a Wisconsin-based creative freelancer and recent graduate. She has worked as an editor, fact checker, and copywriter for various digital and print publications. Her most recent position was in academic publishing as a publicity and marketing assistant for the University of Wisconsin Press
Let’s get this out of the way: Put simply, fermentation is the process of transforming food by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms. But wait! Before you close your computer in disgust, there are a few things you should know about the process of fermentation and the incredible health benefits it can offer.
Fermentation is used to produce some of our most beloved and common foods, including alcohol, yogurt, and sourdough bread. Not so scary, right? Fermentation is a natural phenomenon that humans have been using for culinary benefits for centuries. All over the world, fermented foods play key roles in diets.
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Why Do Fermented Foods Work
During fermentation, bacteria can produce vitamins and useful metabolites. Fermented foods contain potentially probiotic microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria. And, despite the short time these bacteria spend in the gut, they help with food digestion and boost our immune system. Probiotics in fermented food also strengthen the walls of the intestines to keep them from leaking their contents into blood so fermented food can contribute to the prevention of leaky-gut syndrome. It has also been found to contribute to prevention and treatment of diseases such as allergies and eczema.
Consumption of kimchi and other fermented vegetables may reduce asthma and atopic dermatitis. Other studies report the effect of fermented foods on reducing risks of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Consumption of fermented milk products reduced the risk of bladder cancer. Yoghurt-rich diets showed a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, in older Mediterranean adults where a cluster of conditions occur together .
Probiotics in fermented foods have health-promoting properties such as lowering cholesterol one study demonstrated that several lactic acid bacterial strains have properties to lower blood cholesterol.
Ginger And Ginger Beer
Traditionally brewed ginger or root beer is prepared similarly to kombucha a symbiotic colony of yeast and lactobacillus bacteria aids in fermenting the ginger, sugar, and water into a delicious carbonated beverage.
Ginger has been used for generations as a natural home remedy for soothing digestive upsets, and thanks to modern scientific studies, we now know that ginger has various therapeutic effects. Ginger contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immuno-supportive compounds .
So it’s no surprise that this probiotic-filled drink may be a better choice over other alternative sweet carbonated beverages. That being said, always be sure to read the labeleven ginger beers can contain unwanted excess sugars. Aim to find a brand with as little added sugar as possible, or like any food that’s a bit sweet, aim for moderation!
Ginger beer and ginger ale are used interchangeably to refer to a fermented ginger soda ginger beer tends to be stronger in flavor.
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Transformations In Food Arising From Fermentation
It well established that fermentation can enhance the digestibility of complex carbohydrates and proteins through the breakdown of starch to oligosaccharides and polypeptides to amino acids . Fermentation allows for the destabilization of the casein micelle by bacteria present in milk, enhancing milk protein digestibility . Fermentation, in particular with respect to cheese, facilitates the concentration of key nutrients through removal of water and enhances the bioavailability of calcium, which is important for skeletal health .
Additionally, fermentation can facilitate transformations in raw foods that allow these foods to be tolerated by consumers that are intolerant of the original raw product. A good example of this is the ability of lactose-intolerant individuals to consume fermented dairy products, in particular ripened cheeses such as Cheddar. The reason for this is that during fermentation and cheese ripening, the LAB metabolize the lactose, significantly reducing the level of lactose in the resulting fermented food product. In addition, the presence of the lactase enzyme produced by bacteria present in the fermented matrix can help to further remove any residual lactose during ingestion and digestion . A similar example involves decrease in the concentration of anti-nutritional components in raw food, such as the partial eradication of harmful trypsin inhibitors during soy bean fermentation .
Fermented Foods Change The Composition Of Your Microbiome
They looked at the diet and microbiome of over six thousand people and found that people who ate fermented plants at least once a week had different microbiome compositions compared with those who didnât.
Whatâs more, they had more conjugated linoleic acid in their guts – this is a health-promoting molecule produced by the gut microbes that were associated with eating fermented foods.
Research has also shown that fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir can provide additional âgoodâ strains of bacteria, providing your microbiome with additional diversity and giving you potential health benefits, including improved digestion, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Risks And Side Effects
Why might fermented foods be bad for you? While they certainly have lots of benefits to offer, one disadvantage of fermented foods is that when you consume too much, especially too quickly, you may deal with some digestive issues. These can include bloating or diarrhea.
Start slowly, and experiment with different kinds to find your favorites.
If you have a sensitive digestive system you may want to start off with a smaller amount, like several tablespoons of kefir or one probiotic capsule a day, and work your way up.
For the greatest fermented foods benefits, try to purchase foods that are organic and contain live and active cultures. This is better than the label made with active cultures.
After fermentation, some poor quality products may be heat-treated, which kills off both good and bad bacteria . Ideally you want to find raw, organic and local products that do not contain lots of sugar or additives.
The Health Benefits Of Fermented Foods
You can boost your gut health naturally by incorporating fermented foods into your diet, says Corey Tolbert, RD, LD, a licensed and registered dietitian at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont.
Fermented foods contain probiotics, which are healthy bacteria and yeasts that strengthen your gut microbiome . Good gut health is essential to digestion, and research also shows it can positively impact your immune system, mental health and weight.
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Multivitamins Provide A Variety Of Vitamins And Minerals To Fill Nutrient Gaps
Buy Now:Nature Made Multivitamin Tablets, $11 for 130 servings,
All vitamins and minerals have numerous important functions in the body, and how they impact gut health is a growing field of research. Studies have shown the minerals selenium, zinc, and iron can play an important role in promoting a diverse and healthy gut microbiome.
Its important to know these minerals can be found in foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, seafood, and meat. A healthcare professional or a registered dietitian can help determine if supplementing these nutrients would be beneficial or if your diet is adequate in these nutrients.
If a multivitamin is appropriate for you, we suggest Nature Made Multivitamin Tablets. This multivitamin is budget-friendly, third-party tested for ingredient amounts and contaminants from USP, and the single tablet serving is smaller and easier to take than other options.
While it does not contain omega 3s or collagen, this multivitamin can replace the need for a vitamin D supplement for most people, as it contains 1,000 IU of vitamin D3. It provides 100% of your daily needs for iron, 136% of your daily needs of zinc, and 127% of your daily needs for selenium. This multi also provides around 100% or more of your daily needs for most other vitamins and minerals aside from calcium or magnesium.
How Do Fermented Foods Affect Gut Health
Some precursors to fermented foods like cabbage and other vegetables are rich in fiber and act as prebiotics. Fiber serves as food for the beneficial bacteria in our gut and results in production of short-chain fatty acids that fuel the cells lining the intestines and maintain gut health. Some fermented foods especially yogurt and kefir have demonstrated probiotic capabilities and associations with reduced inflammation and improved gut health. However, outside of the realm of yogurt research, studies are limited on the impact of fermented foods on gut health. Randomized, controlled trials are needed, but these studies are challenging to design because blinding participants to fermented foods versus a control food would be next to impossible given their noticeable flavor profiles.
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