There’s a lot more to fermented foods than just their unique tang and signature zing. Fermented foods are packed with probiotics or good bacteria that help boost gut health, improve digestion, and support overall immunity.
Fermentation is one of the oldest and most traditional ways of preserving food which is also nourishing and simple to do. It is making a comeback as we become more aware of the importance of gut health.
We asked three of our favourite gut health advocates and fermentation specialists—food educator Lisa Thornton of Get Cultured, wellness coach Shan Cooper of My Food Religion, and nutritionist Sofie van Kempen—to share the top reasons why we all should have fermented foods on our table.
1. Increases good bacteria in your gut
When food undergoes fermentation, good bacteria start to form and eat the sugar and starch to enhance nutrients in food. These good bacteria or probiotics help you digest food faster and improve bowel movement.
“Adding fermented foods to your meals can be a good way of introducing probiotics and different nutrients to your diet.” – Lisa
2. Fortifies your immune system
Eighty percent of the immune system resides in your gut, so having a healthy gut is extremely important. Fermented foods can help improve the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut and even help with weight loss.
“Increased diversity of good bacteria in the diet in an easy to consume and palatable way which in turn supports gut health and everything from immune function, to sleep, mood, recovery, stress, weight, and more.” – Sofie
3. Promotes better digestion
Taking a quality probiotic daily and consuming fermented foods will help you avoid that bloated gut feeling. Pair this with a well-balanced food diet and you won’t have much need for supplements.
“Fermented foods can assist in the absorption of nutrients from other parts of a meal. The Vitamin C in fermented veggies will allow the absorption of iron from meat at a much higher rate. The sour nature of most fermented foods is also great for helping to stimulate the digestive system and increase digestive enzymes to aid in breaking down food properly.” – Sofie
4. Easy and cheap natural food preservation
You don’t have to spend too much on fermented products. In fact, it is really simple to and requires very little ingredients and equipment. With just salt, an airtight container, and a cold, dark place for storage, you can easily make fermented foods at home.
“My partner Tom and I grow most of our food at home so fermenting plays a huge role in none of that food going to waste and also assists us to still consume it when out of season!” – Sofie
“It’s a great way to preserve food and super-charge the nutrients in the food to make them more bio-available.” – Shan
5. Improves the nutritional value of food
Fermented foods are practically superfood. Fermentation preserves raw vegetables without heat so they retain their vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, raising the nutritional value of food.
“I was iron deficient for a long time until I started eating high vitamin C fermented vegetables such as kimchi and fermented carrots, alongside red meat! Not only do they taste great but they assist in digesting the meat as well as increasing the absorption of iron.” – Sofie
“I believe your health is one of the best investments you can make. Fermented foods are a good investment to help strengthen your gut microbiome and overall health.” – Lisa