5 unexpected benefits of fermented food for health and beauty

In the pursuit of health and beauty, I’ve learned that having a robust digestion is of utmost importance. Without it, we cannot efficiently digest nor absorb food we ingest. According to ancient Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), poor digestion will also lead to bags under eyes.

Since the holidays, as I’ve been feasting on too much food and too fast for my stomach can handle. On top of occasional stomach discomfort, I realise through holidays photos that eye bags appeared and deepened. On top of what the Korean called the aegyo sal (fats beneath eyes), there is another layer of eye bags. That is despite having enough rest on a holiday!

So I incorporate a lot more fermented food (notably my mother’s homemade kimchi) into my diet than usual. The great flavour from the bottle of bubbling cabbage inspired me to read ‘The Art of Fermentation’ by Sandor Katz. That is when found a few benefits of fermentation; some are almost unbelievable if the author did not cite any scientific journal or other reliable source.

art of fermentation
1. Fermented food improved digestion
Fermented food – e.g kimchi, tempeh, soy sauce – are highly nutritious and digestible. Firstly, fermented food is pre-digested. Secondly, the good bacteria which we ingested from some live-culture food help digest food and product protective compounds as they passed through our intestines. These bacterias and their products enrich the microbial ecology of our intestines, enabling us to get more nutrient from our food.

2. Fermented food is a healthy way to increase flavour of food
Fermented food is a source of flavour enhancement. It makes staple food such as rice and bread a lot more tastier. A little fermented food goes a long way.

3. Fermented food increase body’s alkalinity
Most fermented food are acidic, however when consumed they have an alkalizing effect in our body. Why? Ferments make minerals (which are alkaline) so much more accessible.

Ginger ale is a traditional fermented drink that is easy to make at home
Ginger ale is a traditional fermented drink that is easy to make at home

Recipe: Ginger Ale (5 Ingredients)

4. Fermented food might help overcome sensitivity to gluten
This is story anecdotal but worth mentioning. Leslie Kolkmier have been diagnosed wrongly with irritable bowl syndrone (IBS) and celiac disease. When he began making souerkraut, his gut problems have nearly disappeared, allowing him to add some wheat product back into his diet. He believed that his natural probiotics had been wiped out by antibiotics. (source: The Art of Fermentation, page 22)

5. Fermented food might be able to improve or even overcome autism
Natasha Campbell-McBride, a British medical doctor has a son who overcame autism. She wrote a book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” in which she describes her son’s recovery based on a diet rich in live cultures and fatty acids, and without artificial ingredients, trans-fat and some other vegetable oils, sugar, gluten or casein.

It is claimed that restoring the health of intestinal microbiota is the key to recovery for common psychological conditions including depression, attention deficit discover, schizophrenia and even dyslexia.

A variety of homemade kimchi at a morning market in Seoul
A variety of homemade kimchi at a morning market in Seoul

Now, I am even more convince to incorporate different type of fermented food into my daily meals.

What is your favourite fermented food?

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