Fermented foods may be setting trends on The Huffington Post, but these nutrient-potent foods have been around for thousands of years in Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and German cultures. For people living without modern medicine and refrigeration, fermentation was a simple means of food preservation and a way to imbue foods with the health-enhancing properties of the live bacteria the gut needs to stay in balance. Fermented foods are a potent source of probiotics, which research has shown are essential to powering up the mucosal immune system in your digestive tract and producing antibodies to pathogens. Both are key to helping you maintain vibrant health.
You may not even realize just how many fermented foods you already enjoy in your diet (see list). Incorporate more of these probiotic powerhouses into meals, and put those good-for-you organisms back into action in your gut.
Fermented Foods Short List
- Cultured Dairy: Yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, sour cream, some cheeses
- Veggies: Beets, radishes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, kimchi, green beans, sauerkraut
- Condiments fermented at home or commercially: ketchup, relish, salsa, chutney
- Other: Miso, tempeh, tofu, soy sauce
Fermented Food Facts & Tips
- All fermented foods must be kept cool to maintain the live cultures.
- Food labels must be marked "fermented."
- Fermented and "pasteurized" do not go together. Pasteurization kills live cultures.
- Pickled is not the same as fermented (unless indicated on the label). Pickled foods are soaked in vinegar or brine.
- Choose organic, non-GMO items or locally farmed products.
- Start with small servings of fermented foods, one to two times a day.
- Toss fermented veggies into salads; enjoy as a snack or as a side dish.
- Add a spoonful or two to your morning smoothie (e.g., beets, kefir).
Food for Thought
Fermenting foods on your own may seem intimidating and difficult. Here are some resources and recipes for beginners and pros alike.
- Nourishing Days Fermenting for Beginners
- Cultures For Health Fermented Vegetables: The Basic Culturing Process
- Homemade Mommy 20 Kid-friendly Fermented Recipes
- Girl Meets Nourishment 56 Awesome Fermented Food and Drink Recipes
- PaleoLeap Fermented Food Recipes
- Chilton, S., J. Burton, and G. Reid. "Inclusion of Fermented Foods in Food Guides Around the World." Abstract. Nutrients 7, no. 1 (January 2015): 390-404.
- The Huffington Post. Headlines on fermented food trend.
- Mercola, J. "Fermented Foods: How to 'Culture' Your Way to Good Health." Accessed February 2015.
- Rawlings, D. Fermented Foods for Health: Use the Power of Probiotic Foods to Improve Your Digestion, Strengthen Your Immunity, and Prevent Illness. Fair Winds Press: 2013.
- Schwenk, D. Cultured Food for Life: How to Make and Serve Delicious Probiotic Foods for Better Health and Wellness. Hay House, Inc.: 2013.
- Williams, D. "Fermented Foods that Boost Digestive Health." Reviewed February 6, 2014.
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