Top Six Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
By Mallory Ginis, MScN
Eating fermented foods filled with good bacteria is good for your gut, according to many health experts.
Products like sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, sourdough bread and kombucha – all available at the Portland Farmers Market – can offer these health benefits and more to your diet and overall well-being:
1. Gut Health
By inoculating your gut with good bacteria, you are providing a little army to fight against the bad bacteria. This will help to improve digestion and repair the protective lining along your GI tract.
2. Brain Health
Many of your feel good hormones, like serotonin, are produced in your GI tract. These hormones are intimately linked with your brain. When you repair your gut, your microbiome is stronger and may help to improve anxiety, depression, and energy levels.
Without having to fight against bad bacteria, your GI tract can relax and digest with ease. Even better, the lactic acid produced by the good bacteria can fight against inflammatory compounds.1 When your gut is happy, those little irritants will have a hard time passing through to cause inflammation. An improved gut can boost your immune system and fight allergies (even asthma).
4. Weight Loss
Introducing fermented foods can increase satiety, or how full you feel, so you may be less likely to overeat.1 An improved diet can increase your likelihood of hosting bacteria linked with a healthy weight. Improved gut health can boost detoxification within your body because you are getting the necessary nutrients for the detoxification process.
Nutrients in fermented vegetables can be more bioavailable than those in raw vegetables. A plant is made of sturdy cells, like cellulose, that are hard to digest. During the fermentation process those plant materials are broken down, making the vegetable easier to digest.1 This means your gut can extract more nutrients for important bodily functions and an extra boost of energy.
6. Cost Savings
Store bought supplements, which can be costly, contain only select strains of probiotics. Fermented foods can be much easier on your bank account. A head of cabbage is around $2 per pound, and can be converted into a huge jar of sauerkraut to dollop onto your meals. A bottle of good probiotic supplements, on the other hand, can cost between $13 to $70 per bottle of 50 pills. In addition to cost savings, eating fermented foods allows you to explore a world of delicious flavors!
Caution to new users: Start slowly! If you’re having digestive issues, it is best to identify and eliminate the irritant (using an elimination diet closely monitored by a health care professional) before using fermented foods as a medical intervention. Small doses may be okay, but please consult with your doctor before making changes in your diet.
Here’s a list of some of the vendors who sell Fermented Foods at the Portland Farmers Market:
- Choi’s Kimchi – kimichi
- Eva’s Herbucha – Kombucha
- Fraga Farms – Goat cheese
- Fressen Artisan Bakery – Sourdough bread
- Gabriel’s Bakery – Sourdough bread
- Gathering Together Farm – Fermented vegetables
- Gee Creek Farms – Garlic sauerkraut, kimchi, sourdough bread
- Goldin Artisian Cheese – Goat cheese
- Groundwork Organics – Fermented vegetables, hot sauce
- New Cascadia Bakery – Gluten free fermented bread
- Olykraut – Sauerkraut and fermented pickles
- Super Natural Farm – Sauerkraut and kimchi
- Springbank Farm – Blueberry wine
- Squirrel and Crow – Soy free tempeh
We hope to see you at the Portland Farmers Market, open year round, every Saturday, on the campus of Portland State University!
Want to learn more about fermented foods? Read our Intro to the World of Fermentation blog post.
- Maria L Marco, Dustin Heeney, Sylvie Binda, et al. Health benefits of fermented foods: microbiota and beyond. ScienceDirect. 2017;(44):94-102.