If you enjoy fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or kimchi, then you are in for a surprise; not only do these foods taste great but the can also strengthen your immune system. That’s right, adding fermented vegetables to your daily diet can actually help you stay healthy. How does that work? When you pickle, brew, or culture food (otherwise known as fermenting) the food begins to break down before eating. Additionally, the fermentation process creates healthy enzymes, fungi, and bacteria that help food to digest more quickly for more efficient nutrient absorption. These happy helpers also introduce micro-flora into your digestive tract for better overall absorption of nutrients, as well as protecting your system from pathogens like salmonella and E.coli. If you suffer from candida, the micro-flora can help cut it back as well for a healthier digestive system and reduction of candida-related effects. But that’s not all. Fermented foods increase antibodies that fight diseases, as well as creating antioxidants to reduce the risk of certain cancers by eliminating the build-up of free radicals in the body. The process of fermentation is quite remarkable; it actually creates vitamins and nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B-complex vitamins, and a host of digestive-assisting enzymes or probiotics. Finding fermented foods is fairly easy, but you need to be on the lookout as most commercially-prepared fermented products won’t offer the same health benefits mentioned above. Most commercial processes do not create the enzymes and other nutrients; in fact, they can often destroy nutrients in the process. You’ll need to look for naturally-fermented foods, or you can make your own. Homemade fermented foods are actually quite easy to make; you can check out Choosing Raw for an excellent veggie recipe requiring simple ingredients (plus a host of other recipes), or consider creating some Coconut-Milk Yogurt (or almond milk) for a sweeter treat by purchasing some probiotic starter at your local health food store. Other fermented foods you can consider include:
- Kombucha (fermented tea)
- Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
- Kimchi (fermented vegetables, vinegar)
Again, keep in mind that if you simply go to the store and purchase these foods you will likely not gain the health benefits. Making fermented foods at home, or finding a reliable producer of naturally-fermented foods are your best option for ensuring that your body reaps the reward of fermentation. Tell us, have you ever fermented vegetables? Comment below!