5 Major Health Benefits of Eating Fermented Foods (Pass the Kimchi!)

Emmy Schneider-Green
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What do pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha all have in common? Outside of all of them being delicious thanks to their distinctly sharp, pungent taste, they’re all fermented foods! AKA: They’re all good for you in the same specific ways. Namely, for your gut.

What are the benefits of fermented foods? The process of fermentation (more on this later) turns already healthy foods into superheroes for our immunity and gut health. And if you haven’t already heard, gut health is everything.

All day every day, as we go about our lives, millions and billions of microscopic organisms are inhabiting our insides. And, believe it or not, this is a good thing!

If you’re the squeamish type (guilty) it may wig you out to imagine your own GI tract teeming with bacteria. But we’re not talking about the “bad” bacteria that you use hand sanitizer to kill. While bad bacteria can, of course, cause major harm and disease, these friendly types are crucial for optimal health.
 

The process of fermentation turns already healthy foods into superheroes for our immunity and gut health.

 
This is why a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut is an absolutely critical piece in the puzzle of overall health.

In fact, there are an estimated five hundred different types of microbes living in our gut, helping you to break down your food and use the nutrients. They’re also responsible for sending out all sorts of signals, like the ones that tell us when we’re full and what to crave.

Tummy Troubles? Here Are 5 Simple Ways to Heal Your Gut Naturally
 
 

Here’s Exactly What Happens During the Fermentation Process of Food

So just what is the fermentation process exactly?

In a nutshell, the process of fermentation involves letting a food (take cabbage for example) sit out unrefrigerated and chill (ok, basically rot) until the naturally occurring sugars and carbohydrates begin to break down.
 

 
 
Once this starts, the food begins to produce its own bacteria, plus allows beneficial bacteria like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria to reproduce.

Eventually, lactic acid is created, and we end up with the final product, brimming with probiotics, enzymes, B vitamins, and healthy fatty-acids. And viola! You have sauerkraut.
 
 

The Benefits of Fermented Foods: Boost Your Health With These Superfoods

When we eat, we’re not just fueling ourselves in the traditional way we might think of. We’re also feeding the microbes inside of us. And just like how eating healthy foods fuels us or makes us sick, our food choices also directly impact the health and balance of our gut microbes.

Fermented foods have been recognized as powerful health foods for our gut for generations and were pillars in many ancient cultures.

If you’ve been popping a daily probiotic supplement in order to replenish and balance your gut bacteria, you should be happy to know that by eating a healthy, diverse diet, you can actually get everything you need straight from your food.

Unfortunately, much of the food we eat in a standard modern diet is totally lacking when it comes to probiotics and helpful enzymes.
 

If you haven’t already heard, gut health is everything.

 
Heavily processed foods like pastries, snack bars, and sugary treats are also so devoid of fiber that they’re digested early on (before they reach our lower intestine), which is actually the stomping grounds for most of our gut biome.

Furthermore, certain so-called “advancements” of our modern food preparation (such as pasteurization) also strip foods of naturally occurring goodness found in fermented foods. This all means that the modern person is typically taking in way less probiotics than our grandparents would have.

By sprinkling plenty of raw and cooked fruits and vegetables and fermented foods into your diet, you can make sure your gut is getting the bacteria it needs. Also throw in plenty of fibrous foods that will make their way all the way down into the lower intestine.

Need more probiotics in your life? Here are 4 Sneaky Ways to Get Your Daily Probiotics For Gut Health and Immune Support
 
 

Here Are 5 Major Benefits of Fermented Foods:

The benefits of fermented foods are plentiful. Here are just five of the major ones:
 

1. Improved Digestion

IBS, bloating, irregularity, and other digestion woes can all be your body’s way of letting you know your gut is out of whack. Eating fermented foods on the regular can help immensely. Plus they’re delicious, so really, why not?
 

2. Immune System Boost

In a macro sense, a healthy, balanced gut keeps us less susceptible to major, chronic disease. And on a daily basis, you’re able to better fight off minor things like colds and infections when your gut is healthy. Studies show that fermented foods drastically help to enhance your immune system.
 

3. Better Moods

Believe it or not, studies have found that our gut health totally affects our mental health too. Dealing with anxiety or depression? Fermented foods aren’t necessarily a cure-all, but since a healthy gut can help with a healthy brain, they can definitely play a role.
 

4. Weight Loss

If you’re trying to shift some pounds and get in your best shape, gut health is a huge thing to pay attention to. The two are intrinsically connected.
 

5. Clearer Skin

A healthy, thriving gut has been directly linked to improved acne and eczema. Anything you’re seeing on the outside, after all, is a direct reflection of what’s happening on the inside.
 

 
 

Hungry Yet? Here Are Some Ways to Add Fermented Foods to Your Diet

No matter what your dietary style and preference, there are so many ways to load up on fermented goodness.

If you’re looking to kick up the flavor of salads, bowls, and sandwiches, sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi are all loaded with probiotics and instantly boost the flavor of anything.

Yogurt (make sure it contains living bacteria and is low in sugar) is great plain, for breakfast, or added to a smoothie. And you can find plenty of dairy or non-dairy options everywhere these days.

More in the mood to sip? Kombucha and water kefir are both awesome options and are readily available everywhere nowadays from grocery stores to health food stores. In the case of kombucha, many bars and restaurants are even serving it up on tap.

Better yet, Learn How to Brew Kombucha Tea at Home – Here’s Everything You Need to Know
 

The benefits of fermented foods are plentiful.

 
Inspired to start incorporating fermented foods into your life? As with all of Mother Nature’s finest remedies, there’s nothing to lose and so much health (and deliciousness) to be gained!

What are your favorite benefits of fermented foods? What are your favorite fermented foods? Let us know in the comments below!

All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. The views expressed are those of the author and should be attributed solely to the author. For medical questions, please consult your healthcare provider.

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Emmy Schneider-Green

Emmy is a passionate vegan foodie and fitness nut with a wanderlust spirit. When she’s not coaching her fitness and health clients or traveling around in her old renovated RV, she’s writing content on food, environmentalism, holistic health, and travel, or lifting weights, to show through bodybuilding the power of a plant-based diet and lifestyle.

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