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Why Are Fermented Foods So Good For Us?

You’ve likely heard that fermented foods are great for your health. It’s true! Here’s why.

Fermentation can boost the nutritional value of food. As the microorganisms responsible for fermentation break down food, they create essential nutrients, such as B vitamins, and other beneficial compounds.

Besides creating nutrients, fermentation can also increase the availability of nutrients in food. People who eat our Buckman Brines pickles, kimchi, and other ferments, often say they find them pleasant and settling to digest. That’s partly because fermentation breaks down food components, such as starches, fiber, and complex sugars, making them easier to digest.

In addition, fermented foods are loaded with beneficial bacteria. These “good bugs” may help balance our intestinal flora, which can promote good gut health and may help stave off certain diseases. 

Emerging studies are indicating that eating fermented foods can improve immune function. This can have a variety of positive health benefits. A great article that reviews research on the benefits of fermented foods is “Health-Promoting Components in Fermented Foods: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review”, which you can read by clicking on the link. 

According to WebMD, an estimated 100 trillion microorganisms call your gut home. Countless species of bacteria compete for the nutrients you consume each day. Some of those bacteria are symbiotic, providing your body with beneficial byproducts from their own metabolic processes, and helping clear out toxins. 

However, some of the bacteria in your gut can be harmful when out of balance (don’t worry, the microorganisms in fermented foods aren’t those kind). Harmful gut bacteria can cause digestive distress. Early research indicates certain harmful strains may contribute to diseases such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, inflammation, and more. There’s also evidence that an unhealthy gut microbiome may contribute to diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and obesity. One study even links social anxiety to unhealthy gut bacteria.

Fermented foods contain “good” microorganisms (primarily lactobacillus). When we eat fermented foods, such as kimchi or sauerkraut, we bathe our gut in these beneficial bacteria. These good bacteria out-compete the bad, reducing disease factors and improving our gut microbiomes.

A note of caution: some fermented foods you’ll find in the supermarket–especially canned ones–are heat processed, which kills the beneficial bacteria. Seek out the brands that contain live cultures, which is usually noted on their labels.

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