Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Health Benefits of Fermentation

     If you follow health trends at all, you’ve probably heard of Kombucha, Kefir, or one of the other, currently trendy, fermented concoctions. However, fermentation has been with us for thousands of years. Fermentation is a natural means of preservation and was, in many cultures, the main one until the invention of refrigeration. During fermentation, microorganisms (such as bacteria, yeast, or fungi) convert organic compounds like sugars and starch into alcohol or acids. In Lactofermentation, for example, the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted to lactic acid and this lactic acid acts as a natural preservative, allowing them to be stored (in a cool place) for a year or more. Because of this, fermentation produces distinctive, strong, and sour flavors. Some other examples of traditional, fermented foods include Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Miso, Tempeh, Yogurt, Dosa, and a number of traditional Cheeses.

     The process of fermentation doesn't only preserve the food, it also creates a number of beneficial enzymes, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics. All of this makes fermented foods (and drinks) super beneficial to your digestion and overall health. And it doesn’t take much to provide that boost. You really only need ¼ cup of fermented food/drink a day to provide an amazing benefit. That all sounds good, but what are those benefits?

     Improved Digestion and Metabolism: Fermented foods are a great source of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. The beneficial bacteria improve the general health of your bowels by balancing out your gut flora which can have a huge impact on your digestion and metabolism. The enzymes also help to break down hard to digest food and improve nutrient absorption.

     Better Absorption of Nutrients: Not only do the extra enzymes present in fermented products help improve nutrient absorption, but fermentation increases the bioavailability of vitamins and minerals, helping us to better use what we consume. Additionally, by boosting the beneficial bacteria in your gut, you are promoting their ability to manufacture B vitamins and synthesize vitamin K.

     Get More from Your Proteins: Lactic acid, the main by-product of natural fermentation, supports the growth of healthy intestinal flora, normalizes stomach acid levels, and helps the body assimilate proteins.

     Good Source of Vitamins: Not only does fermentation help us to better absorb and use the nutrients in our food, they also provide an excellent source of vitamins. B vitamins, in particular, are a natural by-product of fermentation. Some fermented foods also have higher amounts of vitamin C, or other vitamins as well.

     Overall Improvement of Health, Mood, and Immunity: Improving gut health has been linked to overall improvement of immunity and general health. A 1999 Lancet study showed regular consumption of naturally fermented vegetables positively correlated with low rates of asthma, skin problems, and autoimmune disorders among children attending a Waldorf school in Sweden. There have been numerous other studies that showed similar results. But your gut is also intrinsically connected to your mood. So not only do ferments help improve your general health, they can help to stabilize and improve your mood. Read more about this connection here.

     Those of you who may have been keeping up with this blog since the beginning may remember that one of the first recipes I ever posted was a fermentation one. Fermentation is something I’ve believed in for quite a long time. As such, I’ve gathered a decent number of recipes and resources. So here are some links for you if you want to pursue home fermentation.

Bat Lady Recipes: 

     Fermented Coleslaw
     Pickled and Fermented Red Onion
     Fermented Lemons

Helpful Resources:

     Kombucha Kamp
     Mastering Fermentation
     Wild Fermentation

     I hope I have convinced you to give fermentation a try, and maybe even try to do it at home. I only included a basic introduction to fermentation and it’s benefits. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


Eating Fermented Foods Can Give a Boost to Your Immune System: Science Focus:

Health Benefits of Fermented Foods: WellnessMama:

Health Benefits of Fermenting: BBC Good Food:

How To Try Fermentation in Your Kitchen for Probiotics on the Cheap: WellnessMama:

Lacto-Fermentation – How It Works: The Spruce Eats:

Why We Love Lactofermentation: Cedar Circle Farm:

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     Welcome to Bat Lady Herbals.  I have been fascinated by herbs and various herbal uses for quite a few years now.  Plants are amazing t...