You might have heard of fermented foods. Like foods such as miso soup, kimchi and sauerkraut. These all claim to aid digestion and boost our levels of good bacteria.
There has been an increase in the fermented foods market and availability.
In addition, some people claim that they will help aid weight loss, promote a healthy immune system and reduce our risk of heart disease. But are they really the key to a digestive system or just another nutrition gimmick!
Let’s take a look at the science…
What does ‘fermented’ mean?
The process of fermentation happens when bacteria or yeast pre-digest food or drink, leaving you with a fermented food/drink. The result of this is a food or drink that contains vitamins, sometimes probiotics and has a range of health benefits.
These kinds of foods are not a new discovery and we have actually been eating them for 1000s of year, although we might not have recognised the benefits. Until recently they haven’t been widely available and have mainly only been produced by people at home. There is now a huge market for these foods.
What are the benefits of eating fermented foods?
Our gut health is increasingly being investigated and much more research is needed to make concrete conclusions, but evidence suggests that our gut health is significantly linked to our overall health and brain health.
Whilst there has been research into fermented foods and their effect on our health, we need to do a lot more to make any kind of recommendations! Here are some of the benefits that current research has evidenced…
Fermented foods may contain probiotics which have been shown to promote healthy gut bacteria and have a positive effect on immune function, digestion and the absorption of nutrients. The greatest evidence is for fermented dairy foods which have shown positive effects on weight management, digestion, bone health and cardiovascular health.
Interestingly, in some countries, fermented foods are built into dietary recommendations.
Whilst its clear that we need to do a lot more research into the benefits of fermented foods, if you’ve tried them and you enjoy eating them then it could be good to continue to incorporate them into your diet!
A lot of fermented foods can be made at home and so don’t feel you need to go out and spend money on branded items just for the health benefits. These foods may be good for our health but they are no substitution for eating a healthy balanced diet and being physically active.