Exploring fermented foods – here’s what you need to know

Being married to a dietitian means I am lucky enough to get exposed to a lot of the new evidence-based science on food and its effect on our bodies. I became fully aware of how important gut bacteria were to our very existence by the Tim Spector book, Diet Myth. This led me to an increased interest in this topic and the foods that aid our gut bacteria.

What are fermented foods?
Why  They are foods and drinks that have undergone a process where micro-organisms break down food components, for example, sugars, into other products such as organic acids or alcohol. This can improve a food’s taste, texture and provide health benefits.

Why are they good for us?
This food group has a number of health benefits associated with it, including;
•    Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
•    Lower blood pressure
•    Type 2 diabetes prevention
•    Obesity prevention
•    Reduced inflammation

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It is thought that the micro-organisms creating the fermentation produce bioactive peptides, vitamins and other minerals in a form more available to the body. Improving blood health, nerve function and immunity.

Many fermented foods contain friendly bacteria such as lactobacillus. These are a pro-biotic, helping populate and feed the gut bacteria.

Our microbiota is unique to each individual person so there is probably no ideal combination of the potential 1,000 bacteria types that can be inside us. Most people have 100-150 types at a time. It is sobering to think we contain 10x more microbial cells than the number of other cells in the human body!

It’s thought that the amount of fibre and variety of foods eaten, play a significant role in our gut health. Look up the British Gut Project for one example, and you can even participate in their study.

Examples of fermented foods
Most cultures around the world have fermented foods as part of their traditional diet. These are a few examples commonly eaten in the UK.

•    Raw milk yogurt
•    Cheeses made in traditional ways. Some artisan vegan cheeses are made by fermentation too.
•    Kefir – a fermented yogurt drink with a slight fizz.
•    Tempeh – a meat alternative made from fermented soya beans.
•    Kimchi – a Korean staple made from fermented cabbage and radish.
•    Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage.
•    Miso – a paste made from fermented soya beans.
•    Sourdough bread (the real version that’s been “proving” for 24-48 hours)
•    Kombucha – a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast “SCOBY” producing a slightly fizzy drink.


About Little Green Duckie
Little Green Duckie (Justine) lives in Stratford and is a Sustainability blogger who envisions a disposable-plastic free city. Challenges rail companies on water fountains, book swap guardian and loves a litter pick.

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Main image: Micah Tindell via Unsplash