There’s been a lot of buzz around cultured and fermented foods recently, and for good reasons. While some may of these good bacteria-rich foods have strange-sounding names – kimchi, miso and kombucha, for example – kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut and yes, even wine and beer, are fermented foods that offer some surprising health benefits.
Fermentation, or lacto-fermentation, is the term used to describe foods (fruits, vegetables and dairy, mostly) that have been broken down to a degree by bacteria, enzymes and yeast, resulting in the production of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. Wait, what? Basically, fermented foods are foods that have been introduced to specific types of bacteria for a desired effect. Take kefir, for example: traditionally, kefir is made by introducing kefir grains (bacteria and enzymes) to dairy milk and allowed to rest at room temperature for a period of time. The kefir cultures live off of the lactose sugars in the milk. When the cultures consume the sugars, they break down the carbohydrates in the milk and multiply, resulting in a new, slightly fizzy beverage that is rich in belly friendly probiotics.
Why Eat Fermented Foods
Fermented foods have been shown to provide a variety of health benefits. They support a healthy digestive system by helping to maintain a good balance of gut enzymes, making food easier to digest. A healthy digestive system is linked to:
- A strong immune system
- Bone health
- Positive mood
- Healthy skin
and more! If that’s not enough, they’re delicious in a fizzy, sour sort of way.
How to Incorporate Fermented Foods
Our favorite way to incorporate fermented food into your diet is by simply drinking a glass of our favorite Lifeway Kefir! You can blend it in a smoothie, pour it over a bowl of cereal, or mix it with seasonings and spices for a tangy dip or dressing. Other sources of fermented foods include sauerkraut (try mixing it with some kefir for a creamy slaw), kimchi, and even pickles!
If you’re new to fermented foods or kefir, be sure to start off slowly – you may notice some changes immediately. Try adding some kefir to your favorite smoothie for a belly friendly, fabulously fermented drink that’s good for you.