Fermentation has been a part of Indian cooking and eating habits since the very beginning. Our ancestors used to have naturally fermented foods in their daily diets even before commercialized probiotic drinks were a thing. From fermented dough for bread to calming curds and buttermilk, several tasty options can make your tummy happy just like that.
Historically, fermentation was used to preserve food in the absence of refrigerators. Healthy active bacteria like yeast and fungi were added to the foods to increase their shelf lives. Sugar and salts were also very common preservatives at that time. Together they create lactic acid which acts as a natural preservative in foods.
Apart from increasing the life of the foods, probiotics also impact our digestive system. Our gut system is full of millions and trillions of bacteria that are constantly working in different parts of our digestive system. Today, we will try to find the answer about why fermented foods are called healthy and how eating different fermented foods can be good for your digestive system.
What Are Probiotics?
When we talk about probiotics and foods that can be probiotic, fermented foods come to mind first. The process of fermentation makes them rich in good bacteria which is why they are suggested by doctors to help your digestive system.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are good for us. Some people think of them as bad organisms but actually, they are very much responsible for the smooth working of our system. There is a larger number of bacteria in our body system which are good for digestion of which they are one.
How Do Fermented Foods Work?
Fermented foods like curd, yoghurt, kombucha and kefir are all probiotic-rich foods. Let's see how they work for our digestion, and why fermented foods are good for your gut.
- After a long term illness, when you take a lot of antibiotics, the good bacteria in your stomach can be lost as the PH level of our stomach gets disturbed. That is when probiotics plays their role, and help in restoring the good bacteria. It normalizes the increased PH level with good bacteria and helps your stomach recover.
- Probiotics play a great role in keeping a balance between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ bacteria in our digestive system. There are about 100 trillion or so bacteria and microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. Research shows that these little fellows (probiotics) help in strengthening your gut microbiomes. That’s why fermented foods, that are rich in probiotics, are the best friends for your gut.
Benefits of Fermented Foods for your gut health
Fermented foods benefit our system by adding probiotics to it. When we have a happy gut, everything else works smoothly. Here are 5 reasons why fermented foods are good:
1. Better Digestion and Absorption
First and foremost, probiotics aid easy digestion and the overall functioning of the digestive system. It can break down the sugar and lactose contents of milk which makes it easy to digest. Fermented forms of milk like yoghurt, lassi and cheese are good for the people who are lactose intolerant.
2. Helps to Digest Tough Foods
Tough foods, like sprouts, hard lentils, heavy grains and spicy foods can easily be neutralized with fermented foods (There is a good reason for having Boondi raita with Rajma Chawal). Our traditional Achaar or vegetable/fruit pickles are also good examples of Indian fermented foods.
3. Boosts Immune System
Just like our mood, our immune system is also connected to our gut. Fermented foods will also help in building a stronger immune system and thus benefiting the overall health of the body.
4. Removes Toxins
If you are someone who worries about gut health a lot, then you probably know that for the system to work smoothly, it is necessary that nutrients are supplied in and toxins are removed from the body. In our daily life, we take in a lot of toxins to our system that requires a regular cleanse. Luckily, fermented foods are well known to detoxify the body and they also have been found to contain bacteriocins which posess anti-microbial effects.
So, never resist kimchi, yoghurt or kombucha tea for an effective detox to help detoxify following any regimen.
5. Better Mood and Behaviour
Science says that gut and mood are linked to another through many neurons. A bad mood will affect your digestive system and a weak digestive system will be reflected by your bad mood and behaviour. That's why it is important to add probiotics into your diet so that you never have to worry about these things again.
Some of the Best Fermented Probiotic Foods:
- Pickled food
- Sourdough bread
- Idli /dosa
There are a lot of brands in the market that sell packaged probiotic drinks. You can take a regular shot of them or can add the good bacteria to your gut with natural home-made fermented foods. We all can agree on the fact that Dahi-Rice is the ultimate saviour when your tummy is upset, and this makes us really happy that the ultimate taste of delicious yoghurt and lassi are considered the good fermented foods beneficial for our digestive system.