The Benefits Of Incorporating Fermented Foods Into Your Diet

Food is the fuel our body needs to operate and eating the right thing at the right time is like putting the right fuel into our engine for better performance.

Foods that have been fermented are becoming increasingly popular and are being embraced by a variety of specialists, from foodies to health gurus. As of 2018, the consumption of fermented foods in restaurants had increased by 149%, but we are also increasingly bringing these delicacies home and stocking our kitchens with them.

Today, you can get a range of fermented foods in the refrigerated department of any grocery store, including raw sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir, which weren’t available a few years ago.

Fermented foods were a staple of the diet of early humans and are not just a recent fad.

Traditional preservation techniques like fermentation continue to be overshadowed in the food sector by high-tech food preservation techniques utilizing chemical preservatives. But thankfully, the resurgence of fermented foods heralds a welcome shift toward a more ancestor-inspired diet.

You might be curious about how these foods affect our health and how to best include them in your diet given the growing interest in fermented foods.

Discover tasty fermented food options you can easily add to your diet as you read on to understand the 13 benefits of fermented foods and how they boost your health.

A View from Evolution on Fermented Foods

Foods that have undergone regulated microbial growth and enzymatic activity are known as fermented foods. These natural transformations of food ingredients result in distinctive textures, flavors, and fragrances. Consider an aged, raw milk cheese, which begins as a liquid and eventually solidifies through the process of fermentation, its flavour is enhanced and its look is significantly changed.

According to anthropological research, humans have been eating fermented foods since the beginning of time. According to gene-mapping studies, early hominids had specialized cell receptors that interacted with compounds produced by lactic acid bacteria, which are frequently found in fermented meals.

Our ancestors were able to expand their diet thanks to this evolutionary turning point by consuming fruits that had fallen to the ground and started to ferment. These findings imply that our bodies have adapted to consume and benefit from foods that have undergone fermentation.

Almost all traditional cultures consumed fermented foods

The earliest known purposefully fermented beverage, made from fermented rice, honey, and fruit, dates back to China in the year 7000 BC.

As agriculture advanced, people eventually began to ferment a wide variety of foods, including:

A distinctive fermented cuisine or group of fermented foods can be found in almost every culture in the globe. Yogurt is frequently regarded with having originated in Bulgaria, where prehistoric nomadic tribes used animal skins to keep raw milk while it fermented. Natto, a strong dish made from fermented soybeans, is very well known in Japan. Icelanders have hárkarl, a fermented shark dish, while Koreans have kimchi.

Food was traditionally fermented to extend its shelf life.

During fermentation, certain substances are created that limit the growth of pathogenic microbes and stop food from rotting. Examples of these substances include antimicrobial peptides and lactic acid. Humans soon discovered, however, that fermentation had advantages beyond food preservation; it could enhance the flavors and textures of food and transform previously indigestible vegetables, like cassava, into nutrient-dense meals.

While we now produce fermented foods using standardized microorganisms, early food fermentation was a more natural process.

The hands of those participating in food production, as well as the raw materials, water, tools, and atmosphere in which the food was created, “inoculated” the food with bacteria. Foods can now be fermented either intentionally using particular bacterial, yeast, or fungal cultures or spontaneously using “wild fermentation,” which uses microbes found in the raw food or the environment.

Using starting cultures from earlier fermentations, as with batches of sourdough or kombucha, foods can also be fermented. Food fermentation has a long and interesting history, and it’s a great way to incorporate the nutritional concepts of ancestors into your diet.

13 Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

The well-publicized link between fermented foods and gut health is a major factor in the interest in them, and there is a wealth of scientific evidence to back up this assertion. Additionally, a growing amount of studies shows that fermented foods benefit a wide range of other elements of our health via a number of processes. For a range of advantages, keep reading!

  1. The Gut Microbiome is Supported by Fermented Foods

The effect of fermented foods on the gut microbiome has been thoroughly researched and recorded in the scientific literature, as was already indicated.

The gut microbiota is greatly benefited by kefir, a fermented milk product, which raises the levels of Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, and Bifidobacteria. Yogurt eating during a 42-day period boosts intestinal Lactobacilli.

According to a short study, eating tempeh boosts levels of the gut immune response molecule immunoglobulin A and Akkermansia muciniphila. By providing short-chain fatty acids and prebiotic fibres that stimulate the growth of good gut bacteria, fermented foods like chocolate may support gut health.

2. They Encourage Digestion and Regular Bowel Movements

Regular consumption of fermented foods may promote wholesome digestion and bowel motions. Kefir helped patients with persistent constipation by increasing stool frequency and consistency. Yogurt also helps with constipation brought on by sluggish intestinal transit.

Some meals that have undergone fermentation may be easier to digest than their unfermented equivalents. For instance, eating sourdough bread has been linked to reduced gas production, bloating, and gastrointestinal pain, as well as lower levels of hydrogen in a breath when compared to eating non-fermented bread. (High hydrogen levels are linked to SIBO or small intestine bacterial overgrowth; learn more here.) (11, 12) This might be as a result of how sourdough fermentation affects the level of FODMAPs in grains.

3. They Possess Antibacterial Qualities

Fermented foods not only include helpful microorganisms but also have antimicrobial properties that fight off opportunistic and pathogenic microbes, which may contribute to the overall balance of the gut microbiome. Kefir grains have antifungal and antibacterial characteristics that are effective against common infections and intestinal opportunists, such as:

  • Albicans Candida
  • Enterococcus enterica
  • Typhi salmonella
  • sonnei Shigella
  • A. Staphylococcus

In addition to medicines, kefir may be an effective adjuvant therapy for the treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection. Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli, H. pylori, and Campylobacter jejuni are all prevented from growing in kombucha, whereas lactic acid-producing bacteria found in yogurt have broad antibacterial characteristics.

4. They Increase Food Nutritional Value and Reduce Antinutrient Content

When food is fermented, antinutrients (plant chemicals that might reduce or prevent the body from absorbing a food’s beneficial nutrients) are reduced and the bioavailability of a variety of micronutrients is increased.

Through the action of microbial phytases, enzymes that catalyze the degradation of phytic acid, the fermentation of soybeans and grains decreases phytic acid, an antinutrient that reduces the absorption of minerals.
For people with gluten sensitivity, sourdough fermentation encourages the breakdown of gluten and may make gluten-containing grains more tolerable and digestible.

Beta-galactosidase is a bacterial enzyme found in kefir that breaks down lactose, lowering the lactose level of the beverage.

The fermentation of sauerkraut increases glucosinolates, sulfur-based substances that, at large levels, may impede thyroid function but, at lower doses, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
breaks down compounds that prevent their absorption, including phytic acid, to increase the bioavailability of a variety of minerals, such as B vitamins, iron, zinc, and calcium.

Makes dairy products more acidic, which changes some of the micronutrients they contain, such calcium and phosphorus, into forms that are more accessible.

Breaks down compounds that prevent their absorption, including phytic acid, to increase the bioavailability of a variety of minerals, such as B vitamins, iron, zinc, and calcium.

Makes dairy products more acidic, which changes some of the micronutrients they contain, such calcium and phosphorus, into forms that are more accessible.

5. They Foster a Positive Mood

Due to the fact that gut dysbiosis can lead to a chronic inflammatory response, imbalances in the gut microbiota can be a factor in mental health disorders including anxiety and depression. By lowering inflammatory microbe numbers and reducing intestinal inflammation, fermented foods may benefit mental wellness.

The bioavailability of several phenolic plant components that regulate neurotransmission is also increased during food fermentation.

Finally, the gut-brain axis may allow probiotics found in fermented meals to directly affect the neuronal pathways in the brain. The enteric nervous system of the gut is linked to the central nervous system, which includes the brain, by this intricate neural network.

6. They Support Cognitive Process

Could eating fermented foods enhance your cognitive abilities? According to preliminary studies, it might! A probiotic called Lactobacillus pentosus that was extracted from kimchi can prevent drug-induced memory loss in rats.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging in a human experiment, it was discovered that consuming a probiotic-rich fermented milk product altered brain activity. Finally, a randomized controlled experiment discovered that, in comparison to a group given a placebo, a fermented soybean product dramatically reduced moderate cognitive impairment and boosted blood levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). With the help of BDNF, our brain’s capacity to rearrange and develop new neural pathways is stimulated.

7. They’re Excellent for Bone Strength

According to research, fermented milk products can improve bone health. Calcium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin D, and vitamin K2 are abundant in fermented milk products, which are essential elements for building and maintaining strong, healthy bones. Consuming kefir is linked to enhanced bone mineral density and favorable changes in bone turnover.

Consuming fermented milk products may be beneficial for post-menopausal women’s bone health since they appear to protect against bone loss brought on by estrogen deprivation.

8. They Encourage Cardiometabolic Wellness

Cardiometabolic risk factors are a group of interconnected elements that raise your chance of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, or a stroke. These elements include hypertension, insulin resistance, unhealthy levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides. Numerous studies indicate that eating foods that have undergone fermentation may help reduce these risk factors and improve cardiometabolic health.

Through actions resembling those of the class of medications known as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, which relaxes blood arteries, kefir may promote normal blood pressure.

Body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference were found to be decreased by supplementing with 100 grams of kimchi (about three quarters of a cup) at every meal for 16 weeks. Insulin resistance and blood pressure were shown to be decreased by supplementing with kimchi for 10 days.

By regulating hepatic lipid production and inflammation, kombucha may lower blood sugar and blood lipids as well as the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
An enzyme from the Japanese food natto called nattokinase can reduce the risk of blood clots.

9. They Support Weight Control

A balanced body weight may be supported by fermented meals. Consuming kimchi affects genes that are involved in the production of fat cells. Yogurt consumption may be linked to a lower body mass index (BMI), a smaller waist circumference, and less body fat, according to epidemiological study.

(While those are unquestionably encouraging findings, it’s important to remember that they could be affected by the healthy-user bias, as I previously covered in my piece “Why You Should Be Skeptical of the Latest Nutrition Headlines: Part 1,” which I encourage you to read.)

10. They increase immunity and decrease inflammation

The immune system is strengthened by fermented foods, which may also reduce inflammation. Kefir’s probiotic bacteria prevent the immunological molecule immunoglobulin E, which is involved in allergic reactions, from being produced.

Kefir may help prevent or treat allergies because kefiran, a sugar found in kefir, reduces mast cell degranulation. The risk of atopic dermatitis, an itchy skin irritation linked to allergens, among the offspring of pregnant women who ate fermented foods may be lower.

11. They Control Cell Growth

According to preliminary study, fermented foods may help control cell growth and proliferation, which may help prevent cancer. In research conducted in vitro, kombucha selectively damages colon cancer cells while protecting healthy colonic epithelial cells.

While fermented beet juice can stop the production of aberrant intestinal crypts, a kind of cell that is frequently an early indicator of intestinal cancer, some kimchi-based probiotics may inhibit the formation of malignant cells.

12. They Maintain Healthy Skin

By affecting insulin signaling, systemic inflammatory levels, and the gut microbiome, fermented foods may promote skin health.

For those who suffer from acne, fermented dairy products may be preferable to non-fermented dairy products because they contain much less insulin-like growth factor 1, a chemical that causes acne-causing inflammation and sebum production.

By influencing the gut-skin axis, a network of signaling molecules that connects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract with the skin, your body’s largest organ, fermented foods may also improve the health of your skin.

13. They Offer Toxin Protection

Enhancing defenses against and encouraging the detoxification of environmental contaminants are two areas where fermented foods are beginning to show potential.

Heavy metals can be bound by Lactobacillus species and moved out of the body, including species that are frequently present in fermented foods. In fermented foods like sauerkraut, the probiotic L. rhamnosus lowers the gut’s absorption of organophosphate pesticides.

Certain foods, like wheat, may contain less mycotoxins after fermentation. Daily eating of fermented foods may be beneficial if you want to strengthen your body against hazardous exposures and gently remove toxins from your body.

The Benefits of Fermented Foods: Bioactive Compounds

Important characteristics of fermented foods that are health-promoting include:

Bioactive peptides are tiny chemical compounds made of amino acids and connected by peptide bonds. They are produced by many lactic acid-producing bacteria found in fermented foods. These bioactive peptides, often known as bacteriocins, have some antibacterial qualities.

Small molecules known as phenolic compounds are distinguished by a phenolic chemical group, which has the structure of a ring. Polyphenols, which are phenolic substances that are present in bright fruits like blueberries and blackberries, are certainly familiar to you. It has been discovered that the fermentation process increases several advantageous phenolic compounds with antioxidant characteristics that can help balance the gut bacteria.

Food fermentation, as I mentioned, can reduce antinutrients like phytic acid, which is present in nuts and grains, by increasing the activity of the enzymes that break these substances down.
prebiotics and micronutrients are delivered in a dose: Prebiotics and other micronutrients, like calcium, are delivered through fermented foods in a way that is highly bioavailable.

Food digestion is improved by fermentation, which aids in the breakdown of compounds like lactose in dairy products and FODMAPs in vegetables, grains, and legumes that can be hard to digest.

Types Of Fermented Foods You Should Know

Today, many of us are familiar with fermented foods from all over the world. Let’s talk about some of the most popular fermented foods, where they come from, and what makes them special.


With the aid of particular probiotic species, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, yogurt is fermented milk that has been acidified and thickened. For some thousand years, yogurt has been a staple in human diets.

Turkish term “yourmak,” which meaning to coagulate or thicken, is the source of the English word “yogurt.” Yogurt’s health advantages are mentioned in 6,000-year-old Ayurvedic writings. However, it wasn’t until 1909 that Russian biologist Élie Metchnikoff suggested that yogurt’s beneficial effects on health may have been caused by Lactobacillus bacteria.

Yogurt has historically been made from the milk of many different animals, including cows, sheep, goats, yaks, and even camels.

Yogurt was marketed as a remedy in pharmacies at the turn of the 20th century. Shortly after that, Isaac Carasso, a native of Barcelona, started manufacturing yogurt blended with jams, which led to the birth of the yogurt industry. Later, his son established Dannon (Danone) in France, and the country’s first yogurt factory did so there in 1932.


A fermented milk preparation called kefir has its roots in the Caucasus Mountains. It is fermented with kefir “grains,” a living culture made up of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, bacteria, and yeast, and is mildly effervescent and sour.

By utilizing the nutrients in the “grains” as food, the bacteria and yeast form a symbiotic microbial colony. (59) Milk from sheep, goats, or cows can be used to make kefir. It contains several Lactobacillus species, including Lactobacillus kefiri, as well as yeasts such Kluyveromyces lactis and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.


Cheese is a milk product that has undergone fermentation and is made by coagulating the milk protein casein. Lactic acid-producing bacteria and other microbes acidify the milk during the cheese-making process, and rennet and other coagulating enzymes are needed to do so.

After the dairy solids have separated, they are frequently pressed into a shape and aged, which encourages the development of different moulds. The aroma, flavour, texture, and color of the cheese are influenced by the type of bacteria and mold present, the provenance of the milk, and the processing and aging conditions.

Although probiotic starter cultures are employed to start the cheese-making process, these bacteria frequently perish throughout the protracted maturing phase. Small amounts of probiotic bacteria make it through the aging process and into the finished product in some cheeses, like Gouda and cheddar. (60)

Although cheese’s exact beginnings are uncertain, there are historical accounts of its production in pre-Roman Europe. The majority of people in the Western world currently consume industrialized cheeses manufactured with pasteurized milk, commercial starters, and genetically modified enzymes, which are very different from traditional cheeses made with raw milk then fermented and aged over extended periods.

The rubbery yellow “American cheese” that your mother may have slipped into your sandwich when you were a child is just one example of the many processed items that are mislabeled as “cheese” but are not actually cheese at all.

Pickles and kimchi

A delicacy made from fermented cabbage that dates back to the 4th century BC in northern China and may have been brought to Europe by the Mongols is known as sauerkraut.

You can use a starting culture to make sauerkraut or let it ferment naturally. Sauerkraut typically contains a lot of Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus organisms when it is produced with a starter culture. Wild-fermented sauerkraut, on the other hand, has a more erratic composition and contains significant levels of Enterobacter and Pseudomonas.

A variety of salted and fermented vegetables with Korean origins are referred to as kimchi. In addition to salt, kimchi frequently includes cabbage, radishes, chile, pepper, garlic, onion, and ginger. On rare occasions, it also contains other components such sesame seeds, apple, and pears. Leuconostoc bacteria that produce lactic acid predominate in kimchi.

Tempeh, Natto, and Miso Are Products of Fermented Soy

In Asia, people have long enjoyed fermented soy products. Soybeans’ nutritional value is increased with fermentation, which also significantly lowers their antinutrient content. Traditional Indonesian soy food called tempeh is created from fermented, dehulled, and boiled soybeans. Usually, a starter culture of the mold Rhizopus oligosporus is used to create it.

A fermented soybean dish from Japan called natto is well known for its intensely strong flavor and scent. It is typically eaten as breakfast in Japan and fermented using the bacterium Bacillus subtilis var. natto. A mold called Aspergillus oryzae is used to make miso, a salty, rich fermented bean paste. Although technically any legume or mix of legumes might be used to make it, soybeans are the most popular choice.

Unrefined Bread

Before the development of industrial yeast and quick-rise bread, sourdough fermentation was used to make bread. Sadly, the switch from traditional fermented sourdough bread to quick-rise bread manufactured with instant yeast has left us with processed bread that is more difficult to digest than its predecessor and higher in antinutrients.

Making a sourdough starter, which consists of flour and water mixed together and left out in the open on the counter for many days, is the first step in making sourdough bread. The starter begins to ferment when yeast and lactic acid bacteria from the air colonize it. A lower glycemic index than quick-rise bread made with commercial yeast is one of the health benefits of sourdough, which does not include active probiotic cultures but does have other benefits from fermentation.


A fermented, effervescent beverage known as kombucha is created with black or green tea, sugar, and a small amount of alcohol. A rubbery disk-shaped “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast,” commonly referred to as a “SCOBY” or the “mother,” ferments in the tea and sugar mixes.

The SCOBY, which has an alien appearance, is actually a biofilm made up of many different microorganisms, including the yeast Zygosaccharomyces bailii and the acetic acid-producing bacteria Komagataeibacter xylinus.

In order to improve the flavor of kombucha, fruit, juices, and spices are frequently added. A kombucha variant known as Jun kombucha mixes green tea and honey as the liquid medium for SCOBY fermentation, giving the honey additional prebiotic advantages.

Around 220 BC, kombucha is thought to have first appeared in China, Russia, or Eastern Europe. Although there are many drinks marketed as “kombucha” in grocery stores today, the processed, sugary drinks are very different from the classic kombucha.

Pu’er Tea

Pu’er, also known as pu-erh tea, is a fermented, very flavorful tea made in Yunnan, China, using the same Camellia sinensis leaves as green and black tea. Pu’er was once aged for up to 15 years, but starting in the 1970s, the fermentation process was sped up by using an accelerated “cooking” method. Poor-quality pu’er tea typically tastes muddy or rotten, whereas high-quality pu’er tea has a rich, earthy flavor.


There’s really no need to introduce wine, an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting grapes. I’ve previously talked about how drinking wine in moderation has several health advantages, many of which are due to chemicals employed in the fermentation process that turns grapes into wine.

Due to its high alcohol level, which makes it hostile to the majority of bacteria, wine is often not regarded as a probiotic food. However, some lactic acid-producing bacteria, such as Pediococcus pentosaceus, may be present in natural wine. Most commercial wines are frequently a source of other unpleasant ingredients and filter out all germs, even any remaining helpful bacteria.


With this article, you will be able to live your best life and live it to the fullest and take care of your health which is the most important thing you have. I hope you find this article helpful and with it, you can improve.


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