Fermented food is beloved the world over. It is a staple for some popular cuisines. Korean cuisine is dominated by kimchi. Meanwhile, traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine heavily uses miso, soy sauce, natto, and pickles.
Generally, people eat fermented food for two reasons: taste and nutrition. The unusual “umami” flavor created through fermentation or the action of various microorganisms can complement or enhance the natural flavors of certain ingredients.
At the same time, fermented food can provide the nutrients that basic ingredients lack. For example, natto is often paired with rice in Japan because, despite the energy-boosting quality of rice, it does not possess vital amino acids that the body cannot produce yet needs. Natto, meanwhile, is abundant with such amino acids.
Fermented Food Benefits
Apart from enhancing taste and boosting the nutritional value of meals. Fermented food offers a host of other advantages.
1. It can provide “diversity” to the gut.
Microbial diversity in the gut is crucial to regular elimination.
By getting rid of toxins in the body, the immune system works more effectively and efficiently. The body becomes less prone to viral diseases. At the same time, managing healthy weight becomes easier.
2. It can improve heart health.
A diet that is rich in fermented food has been linked to improved cardiovascular health. Again this is due to the microbial diversity of fermented food provides.
At the same time, it plays an important role in boosting immunity, regulating weight, and metabolizing glucose.
3. It can boost stamina.
The increased nutritional value of fermented food provides vitality.
In fact, in Ancient Japan, the emperor made sure that the soldiers received rations of miso for stamina during battle. A small lump of miso provided a healthy dose of protein to keep the body going throughout the day.
4. It is a solution to environmental and food supply problems.
Fermentation is a natural food preservation technique. It helps reduce food waste by extending the edibility of ingredients.
For instance, in warm and humid climates, natural ingredients can spoil quite easily. But, by subjecting them to the fermentation process, their edibility can stretch through the different changing seasons.
It is important to mention, though, that along with the stretched edibility, there’s an “evolution” of flavors that happens with fermentation.
Ascertain microorganisms absorb only the minimum nutrients they need to grow, a lot of the breakdown products like glucose and amino acids get left behind. Because of this, there’s an enhanced sweetness and savory flavor in the ingredients.
It Is Not Always All Good With Fermented Food
Indeed, fermented food offers a lot of benefits but, like most things in the world, there are also downsides to eating it.
One thing some people complain about is the smell. Certain fermented foods do smell quite funky. Another typical complaint is the texture. Natto, particularly, is sticky, stringy, and slimy.
Studies also reveal that some of the common microbes in fermented food produce toxins that can leave people with sensitivities feeling sick. Some of the usual negative side effects caused by fermented food are:
Hyper-allergic folks also feel sluggish and even develop skin issues and irritable bowel movement.
Fermented food becomes “bad” when certain bacteria convert histidine (a kind of amino acid) into histamine. People with histamine intolerance can feel the effect right away and manifest any of the side effects mentioned above.
It is important to mention, too, that not all fermented foods are good. Most fermented dairy products, for example, have artificial additives and are also high in histamines.
So, if you ever develop an allergic reaction to fermented food, take an antihistamine or activated coconut charcoal pills, which are proven effective remedies against toxins in the body.
Eat Fermented Food with Care
There is no discounting the benefits of eating fermented food, but you also cannot overlook the fact that some people’s physical constitutions just do not agree with it. So, think about fermented food as a supplement; you can choose to consume it or not.
There are so many other ways to boost your health anyway.
There is an abundance of health supplements and all-natural foods to experiment with for the purpose of improving your overall wellbeing.
Written by: Dave Asprey
Dave Asprey is the creator of the widely popular Bulletproof Coffee, host of the #1 health podcast, Bulletproof Radio, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, “The Bulletproof Diet.” Through his work, the Silicon Valley investor and technology entrepreneur provides information, techniques, and keys to taking control of and improving your biochemistry, your body and your mind so they work in unison.