Fermented foods have skyrocketed in popularity as more and more recent research confirms the importance of the gut microbiome.
Fermented foods like yoghurt, beer, and tempeh contain many beneficial byproducts of fermentation, as well as live microbes to boost your gut diversity and support better mental and physical performance.
Your gastrointestinal tract is literally a gateway into your body and the health of your body is largely dependent on your gastrointestinal tract, the home of most of the “good bacteria” in you.
Keeping your gut healthy and balanced is essential to reduce disease and optimize performance.
Consuming heavily processed foods, environmental toxins seeping into our drinking water and our overuse of antibiotics has wreaked havoc on our gut’s microbiome. The imbalanced gastrointestinal system caused by these destructive factors has been linked to conditions like diabetes, obesity, depression, eczema, and irritable bowel syndrome.
However, these problems can be fixed by consuming fermented foods, which contain probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms and provide a vital dose of diversity to your gut.
Diets containing fermented foods can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as arthritis, fibrosis, or depression.
What is fermentation? Well, fermentation is an art formed by science.
The breaking down of the sugars in the flour (or other carbohydrate used) is done by enzymes, which produce ethanol (alcohol) and acids.
The alcohol or acids act as a natural preservative and give fermented foods a distinct zest and tartness.
An enzyme is defined as a large molecule, usually a protein, that catalyzes a biological reaction, in this case, the breakdown of sugars into ethanol.
In the case of making bread, the enzymes come from the yeast.
Enzymes catalyze three main reactions in bread-making: breaking starch into maltose, a complex sugar; breaking complex sugars into simple sugars and breaking protein chains.
The process of breaking down the substances in natural foods increases the nutrition profile by increasing the bioavailability of stored nutrients in these foods.
In a way, fermentation preserves the ingredient itself and turns it into a somewhat different, tastier version of its former self.
Some of the beneficial byproducts produced by the microorganisms are vitamins, enzymes, and beneficial peptides such as conjugated linoleic acid.
Not all by-products are good. The fermentation process also produces histamines. Histamines are produced by bacteria and can cause unwanted reactions in people such as inflammation and allergies.
Bacteria essentially break down proteins, both during fermentation and during digestion in your gut. This also leads to the production of histamines.
Apple cider vinegar is an example of a fermented product that is often high in histamines.
Certain bacteria convert histidine, a protein, into histamine. An example of a histamine producing bacteria is Lactobacillus casei.
At the same time other bacteria, like Bifidobacterium infantis, are hard at work actively breaking down histamine.
If fermented foods leave you sick, inflamed, bloated, or icky, chances are you’re more sensitive to histamine-producing bacteria or foods.
In general, fermented foods are good for almost everyone. There are exceptions to the rule though.
Those suffering from sinus problems are advised to stay away from yoghurt, which can worsen their phlegm. A word of advice for everyone: Steer clear of fermented foods with artificial additives that can only make you feel worse.
Overall, fermented foods can increase microbe diversity, providing a whole host of benefits for your body, but only IF those bacterial cultures agree with you. Remember, it’s perfectly fine if fermented foods don’t agree with you.
If you think about it, the bacteria is actually helping you digest your food by making the food easier to digest than their unfermented counterparts.
Find out more fermented products in MIFB 2020. Pre-register now to avoid long queues during the event.