Fermented foods are more popular than ever these days, and probiotic goods are everywhere. Probiotics isn’t just a scientific term—it’s a 37 billion dollar industry. Ever wondered what all the fuss is about?
Despite their contemporary popularity, fermented foods have been around for thousands of years. For our ancestors, the main value of fermentation was food preservation. Fermentation allowed them to preserve fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and even meat without refrigeration. It also allowed them to enjoy beverages like beer, wine, and kombucha.
These days, we primarily enjoy fermented foods for their health benefits and flavor. There are many claims about the benefits of fermented foods, and we’re still learning about what fermented foods mean for our microbiome, body, and overall health. More and more research supports eating fermented foods from a health perspective, suggesting a positive relationship between the probiotics in fermented foods, gut health, and overall wellness.
Probiotics, also known as “good” or “gut-friendly” bacteria, are living microorganisms that can improve or restore gut flora when sufficient amounts are taken. An organism is considered a probiotic when it reaches the intestinal tract and goes to work, helping to create a balanced digestive environment. A large part of the body's immune system is connected to the digestive tract, so having a healthy digestive system is key in maintaining overall health.
Research suggests that a regular mix of probiotics and prebiotics in your diet may help foster a healthy immune system and reduce damaging inflammation in the body. Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that serve as food for probiotics. Having both ensures you have the right balance for your digestive health.
Other than gut health, there are many other reasons to love fermented foods. Fermentation makes foods deliciously tangy and brings out unique flavor elements. In cooking, the acidity and zest of fermented foods can bring balance and harmony to a dish. In the vegetable realm, sauerkraut and kimchi are two of the most popular ferments. You might try topping a soup or salad with a little sauerkraut or enjoying kimchi in a grain bowl or stir fry. If cultured dairy is more your speed, try going beyond cheese. Plain yogurt is delicious with granola and fruit or blended into a creamy salad dressing. Try kefir in a breakfast smoothie or baked goods.
If you’re new to fermented foods, kombucha is a great introduction. Its light, tart flavor and subtle fizz make it the perfect drink to refresh and recharge. We love drinking kombucha on its own, but it can also be used for cooking in both sweet and savory recipes. Try it everything from Spicy Mango Salsa to Decadent Smoothies.
We hope we’ve inspired you to work fermented foods into your everyday life. Not only are they delicious, but they’re good for your gut too. Many people find drinking kombucha is a tasty and simple way to get their probiotics. Don’t be surprised if it becomes a daily habit!