Traditionally lacto-fermented foods can increase digestive, cardiovascular, and immune health. These foods are produced when certain helpful microorganisms such as bacteria, yeasts, and molds breakdown the carbohydrates and proteins for you making the foods more digestible while offering a number of other health benefits.
Fermented foods are considered probiotics, foods that promote healthy intestinal bacteria, aid digestion, and support immune function. Certain foods will also increase B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and necessary digestive enzymes.
If you’ve been relying on yoghurt for your probiotics, there are many more choices of fermented foods. Also, in the dairy department, kefir and cheeses are fermented. Wine, beer, and cider are fermented. Leavened bread is fermented. Pickled vegetables are fermented when created naturally.
In order to reap the benefits, it’s important to choose live, fermented foods that have been created with traditional methods. Many processed foods will appear to be fermented, but won’t provide the benefits you seek. Refrigeration, high-heat pasteurization, and vinegar halt the fermentation process. Although most olives are pickeled, some, such as most canned California-style black olives, are not fermented. For natural fermentation, expect to see salt on the label. Some olives are kept in salt-free brines of lactic acid, acetic acid, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate. Traditional olives would use only lactic-acid fermentation in salt alone. Pickles that are pasteurized and yogurts laden with sugar are best avoided if you hope to reap the benefits of fermentation.
Some fermented foods that may be new to you can be found in many specialty and health food stores. Look for miso, kombucha, tempeh, seed cheese, and rejuvelac.
The Washington Post recommends these tips for adding fermented foods to your diet:
Replace regular bread with a fresh sourdough.
Replace milk with kefir and yogurt.
Use miso to marinate fish or in soup.
Find naturally fermented vegetables such as pickled cucumbers, beets, onions, sauerkraut, salsa, kimchi, chutney in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. Add a spoonful to any dish.