Fermented foods are foods that have undergone fermentation (lactic or alcoholic) by the Lactic Acid Bacteria. But why fermented foods are good for us? During the fermentation process bacteria uses sugars present in the food and turn them into lactic acid as a source of energy.

The accumulation of lactic acid in the food leads to a lowering of the PH. This has the effect of:

1) Ensuring the health and hygiene safety of the food, avoiding the development of pathogenic micro-organisms such as Salmonella and Listeria Monocytogens.

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2) Allows the protein to be reduced more easily in digestible proteins (proteolysis) and giving special aromas and flavors.

Some examples of fermented foods are: cheese, meat, yogurt, kefir, sake, wine, beer, vegetables preserved in brine.

Why eat them?

Some of these foods can contain bacteria: probiotics or prebiotics. Probiotic means that they cause positive effects on human health. Prebiotics means that improve the functioning of our intestinal flora which, as we know, is made of a large number of bacteria that colonize the colon.

What are they doing? They improve intestinal motility, produce substances called AGV ( volatile fatty acids ) that reduce the risk of colon cancer, draw energy from the breakdown of dietary fibres that are not digested by the body, produce vitamins such as Niacin, Riboflavin and Folic Acid.

Watchout! We must be aware that not all lactic acid bacteria that we find in cheese, yogurt, cold cuts, are actually prebiotics.

The European Food Safety Authority ( EFSA ) verifies that the bacteria classified as prebiotic by food manufactures are really of that kind. If they are not, industrial brands cannot write on the nutritional label things like “improves intestinal motility” as an nutritional information, but just as useful information for the consumer.

You can add fermented foods as an important part in your diet in order to improve the activity of the bacteria of the intestinal microflora.

REMEMBER: When you add these kinds of foods to your meals, the important thing is to eat a small amount of them once or twice a day.

Now let’s see some examples:

Yogurt

Yogurt is without doubt the best probiotic to take but only if you choose the right type.

why fermented foods are good for us_2When you choose your yogurt you must:

1) Make sure that the label indicates the presence of active cultures. Some manufactures may add the culture before the process of pasteurization and that makes the presence of the cultures useless because they are cut down in the thermal process. The best ones are those containing Lb. Acidophilus, S. Thermophilus, Lb. Bulgaricus and Bifidobacteria.

2) Avoid yogurt with too much sugars, usually the ones with fruit or particular flavors contains a greater amount of that. Add the fruit yourself to the yogurt to make it more natural and tasty.

Cheese

All the kind of cheese are excellent foods for the intake of calcium, protein and beneficial bacteria, even if in small portion.

Non dairy fermented foods

If you are allergic or intolerant to lactose but still want to add fermented foods to your diet you can choose from:

⁃ Pickled garlic

⁃ Pickled beets

⁃ Pickled radish

⁃ Pickled corn relish

⁃ Korean kimchi

⁃ Natto

⁃ Miso

Tempeh

⁃ Soy sauce

⁃ Fermented tofu

⁃ Naturally fermented and unpasteurized beers

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