5 Benefits of Fermented Foods and How to Add Them to Your Diet
From the Paleo Diet to Whole 30, meal plans constantly tout instant results and improved energy. While these programs may work now, variety and moderation are the most effective strategies for achieving long-term weight loss and optimal health. One of the simplest and most nutritious ways to add some oomph to your plate: incorporating the many benefits of fermented foods.
Benefits of Fermented Foods
Before we get to a few examples of fermented foods you can easily add to your diet, let’s talk benefits.
Why should you stock these bacteria-packed foods in your fridge? Simple – They do wonders for your health!
1. Improves Digestion
Fermented foods have TONS of good bacteria (aka: probiotics) to help balance the good and bad bacteria living in your digestive system. Thanks to the fermentation process, the bacteria predigests the food, making it easier to digest once it hits your stomach. Plus, the fermentation process releases lactic acid, which helps the healthy bacteria already in your gut multiply quickly.
2. Aids Food Absorption
As your gut reaches its proper balance of bacteria, you’ll absorb more nutrients from the other foods you eat. In fact, adding probiotic-rich foods to your diet could decrease your need for many supplements and vitamins.
3. Increases Nutrient Intake
The bacteria contained in fermented foods produce more vitamins and nutrients as they digest the starches and sugars contained in the food. Specifically, they are great, natural sources of B vitamins and vitamin K2.
4. Supports a Healthy Immune System
Fun fact: 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut. So a happy gut makes for a healthy immune system! All the good bacteria in fermented foods make it easy to achieve optimal gut health.
5. Decreases Sugar Cravings
Most fermented foods are known for their more bitter or sour flavors. This, along with their regulation of your microbiome, help your taste buds crave less of the sweet stuff.
Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet
It may take some time to acquire a taste for fermented foods, but with so many options available, there’s a starting point for every palate.
Breakfast – Try adding berries and granola to unpasteurized yogurt to make a delicious parfait, or adding a big scoop to some oatmeal. Kefir, a fermented milk drink is also a great breakfast option. Try drinking a glass of flavored kefir to make it more palatable, or add a cup to a smoothie.
Lunch – Sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles all make great sandwich condiments and pack a huge punch of probiotics. Try adding sauerkraut or kimchi to soups or noodle dishes if that’s more your lunch style.
Dinner – Tempeh is a fermented soybean product with lots of health benefits. Find it with other meat substitutes like tofu and seitan in the produce section of your grocery store and use it anywhere you’d use ground beef!
With national grocery stores stocking more health foods every day, it’s never been easier to enjoy the benefits of fermented foods.
Do you have recommendations for how to eat fermented foods? Tried one you loved? Tell us in the comments!