26 JAN 2016 / FERMENT

Fermentation back in vogue as science backs health claims

Fermentation is undergoing a rapid renaissance in popularity. Renaissance is the right word because fermented food and drinks have been around for around 8,000 years. For many, such as Koreans, fermented products have never gone out of style with dishes such as kimchi a valued and important part of their diet.

However why have fermented products suddenly burst back into vogue in our homes and health food shops? Because claims (now backed by scientific studies) of the benefits of gut bacteria, which is produced during the process of fermentation, has highlighted the vital role of good stomach bacteria for our general health.

To sum up a very exciting  field of nutrition, the eating or drinking of fermented products promote good bacteria in the gut. While the need for good gut bacteria has been known for many decades, it is only recently that science is demonstrating just how necessary this is for protection against bad health in general. Whether we have “good” or “bad” gut bacteria may determine how well we are and even how long we live.

The ABC’s respected Catalyst  program recently raised awareness of the importance of the right balance of stomach bacteria in a specially dedicated two-part program Gut Reaction. Highly recommended viewing!

The program explores the fact that the role of fermented products in augmenting good bacteria is now understood by scientific studies. Even the notoriously conservative Harvard School of Medicine has come on board the benefits of fermentation and good gut bacteria.

“As more and more intriguing evidence comes in to support the link that intestinal bacteria bolster the immune system, it's tempting to think that more good bacteria would be better…”

Good gut bacteria has long been recognised as having properties that:

●     Boosts our immune system

●     Increases energy levels

●     Aids digestion

●     Cuts the sugar content from foods

However this latest research, has placed fermentation at the centre stage of a new way of looking at health. Described as a revolution, it claims gut bacteria not only boosts our immune system but regulates it, helping the body fight against a range of diseases.

Good gut bacteria essential for good health? Who knew? Well our ancestors seem to have understood this well.

There are many fermented drinks and foods in a number of societies across the world, some dating back many thousands of years. From the national Korean dish of kimchi (fermented cabbage) to the more robust sauerkraut, to the number of yoghurts and many more.

However we know that time is limited for many of you, balancing work and family duties, leaving you little time to practice this ancient and time-honoured art of fermenting. So next week we’ll focus on just one aspect of fermentation: one that is quick, delicious, thirst quenching, time-saving and (of course) promotes good gut bacteria for the overall health benefits that fermentation will bring.

One that can be practiced in the home.

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