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Fermented Foods, The Gut, and The Immune System

Fermented foods and beverages such as Kombucha, yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir account for roughly one-third of the global human diet and have been found to positively support gut health. Some experts even recommend that fermented foods be included in national dietary recommendations.

Many fermented foods contain 1 million to 1 billion viable microbes per gram or millilitre, and a large portion of those may survive passage through the digestive tract, therefore eating fermented foods has the potential to increase the number of microbes in the diet by up to ten thousand-fold. Many species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium help crowd out pathogens, maintain gut barrier function, and produce organic acids that nourish colonic cells and enhance gut health.

Fermented foods nourish and feed the rest of our microbiome. The fermentation process produces organic acids, vitamins, peptides and unique nutrients that you would not otherwise absorb from the food without it having undergone the fermentation process.

Fermentation of fibre-rich foods produces bioactive compounds that may have benefits for immunity, glycemic response, and an inflammatory state. Fermented foods are important for increasing antibodies and building a stronger immune system, they regulate the appetite and reduce sugar and refined carb cravings.

As fermentation may continue after the product leaves the production facility, many manufacturers pasteurise their products to kill off all of the microbes present therefore ceasing the fermentation process to create stability and consistency in their product.

Not only do the food preservation methods of pasteurisation, irradiation and preservatives kill the beneficial microbes responsible for fermentation, but these food preservation methods also disable enzymes, destroy vitamins, and many of the beneficial metabolites that are produced during fermentation which is what benefits us in the first place, regardless of whether we need the microbes alive when we eat fermented foods or not.

It is unnecessary for food safety, as traditional fermentation creates conditions in the product unsuitable for pathogen survival. Fermentation may also degrade toxins (such as aflatoxin) and other anti-nutrients making food products even safer for human consumption than in their original state.

Kombucha is a fermented beverage that packs in a multitude of health benefits including:

  • After fermentation, kombucha contains B vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of organic acids (acetic, gluconic and lactic). Drinking fresh, unpasteurised kombucha, like Hemp Oz Kombucha, has a range of benefits for your health.
  • A review published by the University of Latvia claims drinking kombucha tea can be beneficial for many diseases due to its properties of “detoxification, anti-oxidation, energising potencies and promotion of depressed immunity.”
  • Kombucha contains an array of powerful antioxidants that can help to detoxify the body and protect against disease. These antioxidants may help reduce inflammation and protect against many chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. While normal black tea does contain antioxidants, research shows that the fermentation process of kombucha creates antioxidants not naturally found in black tea, including glucaric acid. 
  • Drinking the live cultures in kombucha may destroy many strains of pathogenic organisms in the gut. It has been found to have antibacterial effects against staph, E. coli, Shigella sonnei, two strains of salmonella and Campylobacter jejuni. Many of these strains of bacteria are responsible for food poisoning and food borne illness globally.

If you’re new to fermented foods, start by having about a half a cup per day and build up gradually from there. This gives your gut time to adjust to the presence of new bacteria.It's best to eat a variety of different fermented foods since each one offers different beneficial bacteria. Diversity is the key when it comes to optimising the health of your microbiome.


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