“Fermented” is just one of those words. When you hear or read it, you are reminded of images and tastes that may make you get a little queasy (unless you’re a beer or pickle fan). However gross or sour you may imagine these foods to be, it turns out fermented foods are pretty much the holy grail of foods, when keeping your microbiome in mind.
What is Fermentation?
By definition, fermentation is: “the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat.” So pretty much, it’s a type of decomposition. This practice originated in ancient Rome when herbalist Pliny the Elder began treating his patients’ bad stomachs with fermented milk; once people in the Renaissance era got a hold of it, it became the panacea for the population. Everyone started fermenting everything. In modern times, scientists have recognized fermented foods as a great resource for probiotics. Hence the craze.
But does that make them any more appetizing?
If you could never drink that liquid Tylenol or bring yourself to eat broccoli, you most likely aren’t going to start stuffing your face with richly fermented foods…. unless you find something you like! Below is a list of tasty foods that even the pickiest of eaters can enjoy!
Miso: a traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermenting soybeans with salt, a fungus starter, and sometimes grains such as barley or brown rice. It’s sold as a paste that can be added to soups. Although tangy, even adding it as a spice to soups or entrees can make a huge difference!
Yogurt: as long as it’s not full of sugar and preservatives, yogurt is a very good source of probiotics, being used by many physicians as a way to not only stay healthy, but a way to avoid getting yeast infections while taking antibiotics.
Fermented condiments: there is now plenty of probiotic-fueled ketchup, mustard, and mayo to go around… just don’t over-do it. Most condiments contain quite a bit of sugar, so watch it!
Pickle(d anything): if you love pickled eggs, pickled beets, or just pickles, then this is a great source of probiotics for you!
Sauerkraut: if your parents never wanted you to try this sour stuff with some brats, did you really have a childhood? This sour yet bitter concoction is something that, if you have the taste-buds for it, you should definitely keep in stock in your cabinet. It’s a great source of probiotics– and bad breath.
Don’t over-think it!
Trying new foods can be downright terrifying, but with the right amount of research and sense of adventure, you will be a lean, mean, fermented-food-consuming machine.