Fermented foods

Fermented foods have a lot of health benefits. They also assist rapid weight loss inexpensively. What is the mechanism of action? Which of these foods are good?

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Fermented foods and their health benefits

Fermented foods are associated with a lot of health benefits. These foods are excellent for improvement of gut health and immune system. Researchers conducting studies on the gut microbiome report that these foods boost brain health. They elevate moods and have the ability to assist weight loss.

Stanford university research team compared recruits on fermented foods to those on a high fiber diet. And they found that after 10 weeks, the former group lost significantly more weight compared to the high fiber group.

Fermented foods
Fermented products (Source: McCormick)

And Korean scientists did a randomized controlled trial in which 22 obese adults were assigned randomly to the fresh cabbage or fermented cabbage group for 8 weeks. The latter group had significantly higher decrease in waist:hip ratio and had better blood sugar levels. Earlier research also showed that foods in fermented forms can help in long-term weight management.

Types of foods and mechanism of action

These foods are available commercially and can also be easily homemade. They are also relatively cheaper. These include pickles, miso paste, kimchi (an Asian pickled cabbage), kombucha (fermented tea), cottage cheese, yoghurt, sauerkraut, and kefir (a type of fermented drink, similar to buttermilk).

These foods probably act via reduction of body inflammation. Tim Spector, co-founder of the ZOE personalised nutrition programme says:

“We know from our own epidemiological studies that inflammation and weight are closely linked and that people who eat fermented foods like yogurt are more likely to be a healthy weight.”

Fermented foods
Fermented foods (Source: Islamicity)

Other experts link it to increase in acidity. Dr Jason Fung states:

Eating acidic foods (fermented foods included) inactivates an enzyme made in the the salivary glands, which slows digestion of carbohydrate, leading to lower blood glucose and insulin levels,”

“That can contribute to weight loss.”

Sales on the rise

These foods are a staple of diets of the world including those from Japan and Eastern Europe. But suddenly, these are getting popular in the UK and the USA. Shann Jones, co-founder of the kefir company Chuckling Goat states that she has seen a 6000% growth in sales of her products in 2022. And her product January sales was up by 5%.

Fermented foods
Fermented foods (Source: Zoe)

Tim suggests to have these fermented products often and in little amounts. He adds:

We’re all different and how we respond to foods is unique, so introducing these foods in a way that fits in with our own diet and lifestyle is important.”

He advises beginners to start with unsweetened yoghurt. The term ‘live’ on the label is best. He himself loves kombucha. Many foods are available in the market but avoid those with vinegar, added sugars, sweeteners or preservatives. Vinegar kills the microbes.

Also, read Fermented foods and prebiotics can reduce stress and improve sleep quality!

Tim prefers homemade fermented products such as sauerkraut from left over cabbage and vegetables. They reduce food waste and need only the leftover vegetables with spices, salt, a glass jar and some patience. It is easy and also cheap.