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Health benefits of good old fashioned fermented foods

The healthiest foods are usually the freshest, every food expert will tell you, but the latest health food craze revolves around good old natural fermentation.

Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria and yeast feed on the sugar and starch in the food making nutrients easier to absorb and stimulating the growth of good bacteria.

This process helps preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics, like L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, and Bifidobacterium bifidus.

Fermented foods are not only linked to improved digestion, but also to a stimulated immunity response, and helps fight lactose and gluten intolerances, control irritable bowel syndrome (which can range from abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation), it may also help reduce allergies, and even boost weight loss, and are potent chelators (detoxifiers).

'Between 70 and 80 per cent of our immune cells are in the gut,' said Alison Clark, of the British Dietetic Association to the Daily Mail.

'Fermented foods stimulate bacteria that help with immunity. So for someone who suffers with lots of coughs and colds, they could help. We also know that a food that's high in probiotics could help control the symptoms of things such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, bloating, and flatulence.'

There are already numerous food products that are fermented, but most are commercially fermented foods and are lacking the healthy bacteria benefits, because they are made differently, like bread that is made with commercial yeast instead of wild yeast, while pickles and sauerkraut are now made with vinegar instead of the traditional lacto-fermentation methods.

However you can get the benefits of fermented food by choosing sourdough bread, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi, yogurt, aged cheeses or naturally fermented pickles, sauerkraut, soy sauce, and you can even make your own fermented food - almost anything can be fermented - which not only intensifies the flavor and aroma, it’s also cheap and easy to make and increases shelf life.

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