07 Nov Fizzy Fermentation: The Latest Health Food Fad
If you’ve been following health circles in recent times, you may have noticed a burgeoning trend towards foods that are fermented. That is, food and beverages which have been ‘cultured’ by good bacteria and yeasts, resulting in a sour, fizzy, or funky flavour. Want to know what all this fermenting fuss is about? Grab a glass of your favourite ‘booch and read on.
What is Fermentation?
Fermentation is basically the feeding of sugars and carbohydrates in everyday foods to naturally occurring bacteria, yeasts and other micro-organisms. This results in a sour or effervescent version of the original product. For example, fermented cabbage becomes sauerkraut, fermented tea becomes kombucha, fermented milk… you guessed it – yogurt, cheese, and kefir. The list goes on.
You may be wondering why the heck we should let our food get all funky, let alone eat it afterwards. Is it rotten? Does it taste bad? What is the rationale behind this seemingly new health craze.
What’s all the Fermenting Fuss About?
The truth is this new fad isn’t new at all. Fermentation is an ancient practice and has been dated back as far as 6000 BC!! You can find at least one fermented staple food in cultures spanning the globe, throughout history. We lost this practice of food preservation once fridges and freezers became the norm, as fermentation is a way of storing foods without the need for cold temperatures, to make it last longer. Once the seasons of autumn and winter hit, more traditional cultures took staple foods like cabbage and fermented them so they could eat them throughout the year when other foods were in short supply. Without the need for this in modern times, fermentation went out of fashion… but to our detriment.
Beneficial Bacteria are our Health Besties
There is a tonne (and I mean a tonne) of new research emerging around the microbiome which is a fancy word for the bugs that live on and inside your body. In fact, new research is proving that we are more bacterial than we are human with around a cool 100 trillion organisms chilling with us at any given time!! Some of these bugs are good guys – there to enhance our overall health by performing life-sustaining functions. Some of them are pathogenic – meaning they are more opportunistic than helpful and can create a myriad of health problems. We obviously want more of the beneficial bacteria calling our bodies their home, as they perform a jillion health functions and keep the bad guys in check!
Aside from making regular foods more easily digested and nutrient dense these good bugs also help with everything from proper assimilation of nutrients, healthy digestion, optimal immune function, prevention of digestive disorders and other disease, prevention of auto-immunity, inflammation and even enhance brain health and mental function! Woah, baby.
Bring on The Bacteria!