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Since long before the advent of refrigeration, fermentation has been used as a preservation method for food and drinks. The fermentation process involves the controlled growth of microorganisms and the actions of enzymes to convert some of the food's components into different compounds. The fermenting process is still used to produce beverages such as wine, cheese, sauerkraut, yoghurt, and kombucha.
Various health benefits have been linked to fermented foods, including better digestion and stronger immunity. In addition, it is believed that fermentation promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics .
Here, we have listed the five primary reasons you should add fermented foods to your diet.
Reasons To Eat Fermented Foods
Reason 1: Improves Your Digestion
The major function of good bacteria is to assist in assimilating nutrients from the diet. Fermented foods contain both good bacteria and prebiotics. Prebiotics are fibres that are vital to the growth of good bacteria colonies. Eating fermented foods protects the good bacteria population more effectively; this will help prevent digestion disorders and diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome .
Reason 2: Boosts Your Immune System
Besides digestion and nutrient assimilation, good microorganisms also play an important role in immune function. Many of your immune system functions within your gut, where microbes signal your immune cells when pathogens are detected. The consumption of fermented foods regularly can potentially reduce your risk of getting a common cold or flu due to their high probiotic content .
Reason 3: Protects Against Heart Disease
Fermented foods contain probiotics that contribute to your heart's health by reducing cholesterol absorption in your gut. Consequently, you are less likely to develop high blood pressure or atherosclerosis, a build-up of cholesterol in your arteries, heart disease, and metabolic diseases because fermented foods lower cholesterol levels .
Reason 4: May Improve Mood
A growing body of research indicates fermented foods may play a key role in enhancing our mood and behaviour, according to our understanding of the gut . Anxiety and depression symptoms may be improved by certain probiotic bacteria, such as Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacteria longum, commonly found in fermented foods. In addition, the Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain may influence cortisol production and reduce physical stress symptoms .
Reason 5: More Nutritional Benefits
As a result of fermentation, foods gain more nutritional value. Good bacteria produce vitamins and minerals to enhance the nutrition already present in them. Fermentation also removes anti-nutrients such as lectin that interfere with nutrient absorption. In addition to creating enzymes, microorganisms responsible for fermentation also help the body absorb the nutrients contained in the food .
Common Indian Fermented Foods
- Made from cereals and/or pulses - idli, dosa, etc.
- Buttermilk-based, including cereal/pulses - kadi, moru kuzhambu, etc.
- Made from milk - curd, philuk, somar etc.
- Made from unripe fruits, bamboo shoots, and vegetables - sauerkraut, iromba, meshu, goyang, etc.
- Made from meat products - yak satchu, hentak, lona ilish, uttonggari, etc.
- Made from pulses -dhokla, khaman, madrah, wadi, hawaijar, etc.
- Fermented sweets and snacks - tiskari, jalebi, bhatura, thuktal, etc.
On A Final Note...
Several studies have demonstrated that probiotics benefit the immune system, digestive system, and heart. In addition, fermented foods' antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and anti-atherosclerotic properties contribute to their health benefits.
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