By SBSM Trainer Jake Spencer
Fermentation is a metabolic process that converts sugar to acids, gases or alcohol. This process occurs naturally in the human body as lactic acid fermentation and has been used for thousands of years in the fermentation of beverages creating alcoholic beverages.
The process of fermentation has also been used on different foods for a very long time. Sauerkraut was a staple of the diet in the Roman era. Lassi is a yogurt drink that has been enjoyed in India since ancient times. Kefir and fermented milk have been consumed by Bulgarians for generations. Finally, many Asian cultures have eaten pickled and fermented vegetables for years and still do to this day.
Despite their presence in traditional diets for centuries, it has only been in the last few years that fermented foods have risen in popularity among health-conscious foodies. Today, things like kombucha, probiotics, tempeh, miso, yogurt, and kefir are all fermented foods gaining in popularity due to their many health benefits. Fermented foods are known to provide more than adequate amounts of vitamin K2, which is known to help prevent heart disease, as well as an abundance of B vitamins. Furthermore, the probiotics help strengthen our immune system by creating more antibodies and pathogens as well as aiding in digestion. Studies also show that having a healthy amount of this good bacteria in your body plays a significant role in preventing major diseases including diabetes, autism, and obesity. It’s no wonder these fermented foods are gaining in popularity as science discovers more and more benefits to them.
A lot of these fermented foods may seem very foreign and scary to try. We are all used to the Americanized fermented dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese, but these processed versions lack many of the benefits found in traditional fermented foods. If you are new to this growing food craze and want to give it a try, I would start out by testing out a kombucha drink, a pickled vegetable, or sauerkraut. Some things like kefir are great additions to smoothies, particularly for people who want to reap the health benefits but don’t like it on its own. Fermented foods are definitely on the rise in our culture and I highly encourage anyone unfamiliar with these foods to get out and try something new, or very old, depending on how you look at it.