So what exactly is fermentation and why is it beneficial? Fermentation is the breaking down of the natural sugars in food by bacteria and yeast. This process creates a food naturally abundant in probiotics as the foods contain many live bacteria. There is also a lot of emerging research that has found potential connections between the microorganisms that live within our digestive tracts and health conditions such as obesity, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and much more.1, 2 Pickling with salt is another form of food preservation, much like fermentation, that will also contain probiotics.
The fermentation of dairy products serves to break down lactose (the primary natural sugar in animal milk). This makes fermented dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, or kefir suitable for those with lactose intolerance such as myself. Other fermented foods include sauerkraut, pickles, and Korean pickled vegetables referred to as kimchi. To be sure your fermented goods contain probiotics, it is best to look on the label for the words “naturally fermented.” Another indicator that a food was not naturally fermented, and therefore lacking in probiotics, is if the ingredient label contains vinegar, sugar, or other preservatives.
Probiotics are live bacteria that are sensitive to heat. To ensure the greatest survivability of the bacteria, it is best to add them as a topping or incorporate them at the end. Below is a list of fermented foods that I would recommend to try and incorporate them into your everyday diet when possible.
Fermented Foods to Try
- Plain yogurt
- Dry curd cottage cheese or fermented cottage cheese
- Fermented vegetables/kimchi
- Pickles (in salt, not vinegar)
- Kombucha (no sugar)
If you give any of these foods a try, please comment below. I would love to hear what you think!
As always, I hope you have a happy and wholesome day!