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Fermented Foods for a Healthy Diet

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Without a doubt, gut health is the most exciting topic in the world of nutrition — or at least that’s my opinion. According to research published in PLoS Biology, the human body contains as many microbes as actual human cells. Collectively, these microbes make up the human microbiome and have a huge impact on many aspects of health, from digestion to immunity.

As research uncovers more about the ways probiotics — the healthy live bacteria found in certain foods and supplements — can influence the microbiome, probiotic-rich foods have become increasingly popular. For centuries, even millenia, people depended on their diets to provide and nourish their microbiome. One way that they did this was by eating foods that had been lacto-fermented.

What Are the Benefits of Lacto-Fermentation?

Fermentation was first used as a food preservation method around 6,000 BC, according to Food and Nutrition. Many of the most popular foods from cultures around the world are fermented, including yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso. Not only fermentation does add a signature flavor to each of these foods, which is important in its own culinary right, but it also adds a healthy dose of probiotics.

During fermentation, bacteria naturally break food down and form lactic acid as a byproduct, which helps keep disease-causing bacteria in check, according to the University of Missouri Extension (PDF). Lactic acid also appears to confer health benefits, according to research.