What is fermentation?
Have you ever wondered how barley malt turns into beer or how your mom turns milk into curd?
The answer to this is “Fermentation”
Do you eat fermented foods? You should!
Let’s read what wiki has to say about fermentation :-
“Fermentation is a metabolic process which consumes sugar in the absence of oxygen. The products are organic acids, gases, or alcohol. It occurs in yeast and bacteria, and also in oxygen-starved muscle cells, as in the case of lactic acid fermentation. The science of fermentation is known as zymology.”
For example, yeast onverts sugars into alcohol, lactobacilli bacteria turn sugars and starch into lactic acid and acetobacter bacteria turn alcohol into acetic acid (vinegar). Yogurt and cheese are the products of bacterial fermentation, while beer and wine are products of yeast fermentation.
Cultures around the world have been eating fermented foods for years, from Kimichi in Korea to Sauerkraut in Germany and everywhere in between. Studies have even shown the link between probiotic rich foods and overall health. Theearliest record of fermentation dates back as far as 6000 B.C. in the Fertile Crescent—and nearly every civilization since has included at least one fermented food in its culinary heritage.
In some cases, fermentation is a critical component to food safety beyond preservation. In West African countries, garri is an important food source. It is made from the root vegetable cassava, which contains natural cyanides and, if not properly fermented, can be poisonous. Other foods, such as the Tanzanian
fermented gruel togwa, have been found to protect against foodborne illnesses in regions that have poor sanitation.
Asian civilizations in particular have a history of fermenting a wide variety of foods—Japanese natto(soybeans), Vietnamese mám (seafood), Chinese douchi (black beans), Lao pa daek (fish sauce), Korean banchan (side dishes)—that remain essential components of their everyday cuisine. Fermented foods are also used in Eastern cultures for medicinal purposes, which may be of particular interest to registered dietitians who practice “food as medicine.” Links between fermented foods and health can be traced as far back as ancient Rome and China, and remain an area of great interest for researchers in modern times.
There are both good and bad types of bacteria available in different food items and obviously good ones improve digestion of the body and the bad ones are harmful for us. Food items which contain probiotics are known to be very beneficial for human body as it has many health advantages. One can easily maintain a very good health by fermented foods if one is well aware of the quintessential features of such food items. Even wine and beer can be included on the fermented list, but they are not all beneficial to the same degree – and so they cannot all be classed as healthy.
Studies suggest this is not guaranteed and that probiotics would have to be eaten regularly and in quite large numbers to survive the journey. “If you’re consuming a diet rich in fermented foods, you’re essentially bathing your GI tract in healthy, food-related organisms,” says food scientist Robert Hutkins, PhD, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln whose lab focuses on the link between fermented foods and human health.
Preservation methods for food via microorganisms (general use)
- Any process that produces alcoholic beverages or acidic dairy products.
- Any large-scale microbial process occurring with or without air (aerobic or anaerobic).
- Any energy-releasing metabolic process that takes place only under anaerobic conditions.
- Any metabolic process that releases energy from a sugar or other organic molecule, does not require oxygen or an electron transport system, and uses an organic molecule as the final electron acceptor.
Why eat fermented foods?
All sorts of health benefits are spruiked around fermented foods, ranging from boosting your immune system and easing digestive system to curing baldness, insomnia, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome and many more.
Benefits of eating fermented foods:-
- In a recent review of studies on fermented foods, Hutkins and his colleagues list many potential reasons to add them to your diet. Yogurt, for example, may help you avoid heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Kimchi, meanwhile, may reduce your odds of diabetes and obesity.
- Researchers have also studied fermented foods effect on gut problems. One study found that fermented milk eased symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, possibly due to beneficial changes in gut bacteria that such foods bring .
- It makes food more digestible, which means, the bacteria present in the food, breaks down and digests the nutrients present in it, resulting the final product potentially a lot easier to digest.
- Full of Nutrients
Fermented foods is full of vitamins and nutrients as it digests starches and sugars.
- Better gut health
Many people eat fermented food to get a supply of good bacteria which results in better gut health. They say that the gut is our second brain. Remember the term gut-feeling? That’s how it emerged! When your gut is happy, you are happy.
A gut with healthy bacteria supports mood and brain function. Hence, fermented foods that result in a happy gut also make you feel happier ultimately.
- Helps curb sugar cravings
Fermented foods can help limit sugar cravings, if not completely stop it.
- Stronger Immune system
Fermented foods introduce our body to probiotics which help maintain the balance of bacteria in our digestive system. Probiotics have been known to reverse some diseases, improve bowel movement, help digestion and improve immunity.
- Probiotics are live microorganisms – such as bacteria, yeasts and fungi that in adequate amounts may have health benefits. Found naturally in some fermented foods, and also available in tablet form, studies have shown they can improve digestion, help protect against disease, and enhance immune function. They are most commonly found in yogurt or culture dinks like ‘yakult’.
- Preserves food
In the days before refrigeration, this was an important means of increasing shelf life of foods, which were preserved using lactic acid and acetic acid. Examples include cheese, pickled vegetables, beer, wine etc. Lacto-fermentation allows you to store these foods for longer periods of time without losing the nutrients like you would with traditional canning.
- Adds flavour
It makes food pleasantly sour or tangy and develops falvour.
- Budget Friendly
Incorporating healthy foods into your diet can get expensive, but not so with fermented foods. You can make your own whey at home for a couple of dollars, and using that and sea salt, ferment many foods very inexpensively. Drinks like Water Kefir and Kombucha can be made at home also and cost only pennies per serving. Adding these things to your diet can also cut down on the number of supplements you need, helping the budget further.