Fermentation is a process in which the bacterial and yeast strains break down sugars. Can these fermented foods be of any help to your digestive system?
This not only helps improve food preservation but also increases the beneficial bacteria of the gut. These probiotics, in turn, carry a number of health benefits. They may include an enhanced immunity, an improved digestion, and even weight loss.
This article analyzes certain fermented foods and their role in improving digestion.
You may know kefir as a form of cultured dairy products. Its production involves adding kefir grains (made from yeast and bacteria) into the milk. This leads to the formation of a thick, tangy beverage, just like yogurt.
The use of kefir is associated with a number of health benefits. By improving digestion to reducing inflammation, kefir has several roles to play.
In one study, scientists found that kefir improved lactose digestion in 15 participants. Note that all these participants were suffering from lactose intolerance. This means that they are not able to digest sugars present in dairy products. Consuming such products, therefore, leads to symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, and cramps.
Another study indicated that consumption of kefir decreases inflammation markers. The participants used 6.7 ounces of kefir every day for six weeks. The reduction in inflammation markers caused a consequent decrease in risk of chronic diseases.
Kefir can also help enhance the health of your bones. One study involved 40 participants suffering from osteoporosis. This is a problem in which your bones become weak and porous.
After six months, the group consuming kefir experienced improvement in their bone mineral density.
You can enjoy kefir directly or add it to your smoothies or blended drinks.
The production of tempeh involves fermentation of soybeans that are pressed to form a compact cake. It is a high-protein source which can be a substitute for meat.
Tempeh has a firm consistency but is generally chewy. You can easily bake, sauté, or steam it before adding it to your food.
In addition to its incredible probiotic content, tempeh has several nutrients to improve health. For example, soy protein can reduce several risk factors leading to heart diseases.
A study involving 42 people with high cholesterol looked at the effects of consuming soy protein. It concluded that those eating soy protein experienced a 5.7 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol. Additionally, their total cholesterol and triglycerides also decreased by 4.4 and 13.3 percent, respectively.
Moreover, a study found that tempeh has certain plant compounds with antioxidant properties. These components can reduce the formation of free radicals which may otherwise cause chronic diseases in your body.
Tempeh is a perfect option for both meat-eaters and the vegetarians. You can use it in anything. Add it to sandwiches or stir-fries and experience its health benefits to the maximum.
You may consider natto as a staple probiotic food of the traditional Japanese cuisine. Just like tempeh, its production process involves the use of fermented soybeans
Natto consists of a high quantity of fiber. 3.5 ounces of natto gives 5 grams of fiber to your body.
But what is the use of fiber?
Fiber helps support all the digestive processes going on inside your body. It keeps moving through the body in undigested form. Fiber also helps add bulk to the stool and promotes its regularity. It may even help in the alleviation of constipation.
Natto has a high content of vitamin K. Vitamin K is an important nutrient in the metabolism of calcium. It is also crucial to maintain bone health. The role of vitamin K is often associated with a reduced bone loss, especially in postmenopausal women.
The fermentation of natto leads to the production of an enzyme called nattokinase. This enzyme can help dissolve blood clots and even dissolve the existing ones.
Moreover, supplementation of nattokinase in the body can also decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
The flavor of natto is really strong and it has a slippery texture. You can consume it with rice or together with a digestion-boosting breakfast.
Kombucha refers to a fermented tea that is tart, frizzy, and flavorful. You make it either with green or black tea. Kombucha consists of string health-promoting effects that may help you in the long term.
Drinking kombucha can prevent toxicity of the liver. It can even reverse the damage due to constant exposure to harmful chemicals. It can even induce cell death in cancerous tumors and block their spread.
One animal study reported that kombucha can help reduce blood sugar, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Most of the current studies are related to test tube studies and animal experiments. However, the benefits of kombucha and its components are quite promising.
Nevertheless, further studies are essential to determine how this fermented food affects humans.
Thanks to its increasing popularity, kombucha is easily available in major stores. You can also make it at home. However, you must prepare it carefully in order to prevent over-fermentation or contamination.
Miso is a quite common seasoning in Japanese cuisine. Its manufacturing process involves fermenting soybeans with koji, a type of fungus, and salt.
Miso soup, a common flavorful dish, includes miso stock and paste. This dish is a traditional breakfast.
In addition to its probiotic composition, several other health benefits are related to miso.
Miso is often associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. It can lower the blood pressure and protect the users from any heart complications. In fact, its long-term consumption can even help normalize the blood pressure.
Consumption of miso soup can also lower down the risk of stroke.
How can you use miso in your food?
One common way to do it is by making its soup. In addition to this, you can add it to glaze cooked vegetables. Moreover, add miso to your salad dressings to spice them up. It can also impart a nice flavor when you use it to marinate meat.
Kimchi is a popular Korean meal. You can make it from fermented cabbage, however, other fermented vegetables like radishes can also come in handy.
Kimchi boasts an extensive set of health benefits. It is particularly effective when it comes to reducing insulin resistance and lowering cholesterol.
Insulin is responsible for the transportation of glucose from the blood into the tissues. When you maintain high insulin levels for a long time, your body does not respond to it. This results in insulin resistance leading to high blood pressure.
In one study, scientists checked 21 people with prediabetes. They instructed these people to consume kimchi, either in fresh or fermented form. The study continued for eight weeks. By the end, those who consumed fermented kimchi experienced a decreased blood pressure. They also reported a reduction in their insulin resistance and body weight.
In another study, the scientist gave people a diet with high or low quantities of kimchi. This continued for seven days straight. A higher consumption of kimchi caused more reduction in blood sugar. It also decreased LDL cholesterol and total blood cholesterol.
It is quite easy to make kimchi. You can add it in almost everything- even noodle bowls and sandwiches.