Food Fermentation Benefits, Safety, Food List

‘The health benefits of fermented food are endless,’ says Holly Davis, chef and author of cookbook Ferment. ‘The trillions of bacteria that live on and inside our body aren’t just responsible for our digestion,’ she says. ‘Recent studies show they’re also involved in everything from weight regulation to the optimum functioning of our mental health.’ This means that eating fermented foods – which improve gut flora – could have a huge impact on our overall well-being. Modern massproduction techniques have stripped the fermentation process (a chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts or other microorganisms) from our diet. Here’s how to add it back in…

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GO WITH YOUR GUT KEFIR

This cultured, fermented milk is so steeped in history, some believe it’s the white ‘manna from heaven’ referred to in the Bible. ‘This is known as a SCOBY (symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast),’ says Davis. Eating kefir: Use it instead of milk in homemade ice cream, add to a smoothie or strain it through a cloth and pair with crackers, like a spreadable cheese.

KOMBUCHA This is a lightly fermented, sweetened black or green tea. Drinking kombucha: ‘Treat kombucha as a delicious tonic rather than something to quaff all day,’ says Davis. ‘It’s a potent brew, so it’s best to consume no more than half a cup of it twice a day.’

KIMCHI A staple Korean side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables. ‘When we think of kimchi, hot Chinese cabbage, daikon, ginger and garlic come to mind,’ says Davis. ‘But there are 187 types on record.’ Eating kimchi: ‘Kimchi goes perfectly with egg-based dishes or is the ideal filling for dumplings.’

SAUERKRAUT Referenced as far back as the Roman times, this is a finely sliced cabbage dish fermented in a jar. Eating sauerkraut: Try it layered up in a cheese sandwich or with meat dishes, like pork. Davis says, ‘My red cabbage, arame and ginger kraut recipe cuts through fat and balances strong flavours, so it’s my go-to with an egg-based breakfast.

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