Does Eating Fermented Foods Have Health Benefits?


Fermentation has been described as ‘a better invention than fire’. Hmmm, I’m questioning if this merely pertains to fermented drinks (wines and beers)? Would the an identical accolade be awarded to fermented meals with out the drinks?

Fermented meals are beloved of preppers who retailer away non-perishable nutrient dense meals, merely in case.

Fermented meals are moreover trendy among the many many clear foodies for the proposed health benefits. Proposed benefits of fermented meals embody diminished fatigue, improved digestion and elimination, lower ldl ldl cholesterol and blood pressure, most cancers prevention and prevention of radiation accidents.

I doubt that the scientific literature has confirmed (unequivocally) that fermented meals are a higher invention than fireside, nevertheless presumably fermented meals have some confirmed health benefits?


What Are Fermented Foods?

Fermentation is a course of by which microorganisms convert food into totally different merchandise by the use of the manufacturing of lactic acid, ethanol, and totally different metabolic byproducts.

Put one different method, fermentation entails the gradual decomposition of pure substances by microorganisms, or by enzymes of vegetation or animal origin. Biochemically speaking,  fermentation entails anaerobic or partially anaerobic oxidation of carbohydrates.

Fermentation is used to elongate shelf life,  forestall spoilage and produce alcohol. While fermentation entails the anaerobic conversion of sugars to alcohol, it moreover produces energy for the microorganism or cell. Humans have been eating fermented meals for over 9000 years and it was a useful strategy to guard food with out refrigeration once more inside the day.

The historic previous of fermented meals is attention-grabbing.

Captain Cook launched fermented meals (sauerkraut) on his voyages as he recognised that it is a rich provide of vitamin C. Scurvy begone. The French chemist Louis Pasteur based mostly the science of zymology in 1856 when he linked yeast to fermentation. Research related to fermentation was even awarded the Nobel Prize (which is bigger than fireside can declare).

When the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in August 9 1945, physicians and victims who’ve been merely 1.4 kilometers away from the epicenter remained unaffected. The lead doctor on the unit contributed their survival to every single day consumption of wakame miso soup, which is miso soup with seaweed. Based on this report Europeans prophylactically consumed miso soup all through the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

Later evaluation supported the hypothesis that fermented meals help mitigate radiation hurt. Pre-treatment with miso soup in mice was confirmed to protect mice from high dose radiation and confirmed elevated crypt survival, crypt measurement, and prolongation of the time interval between the radiation and cell dying (1).

I assume, the protective outcomes of fermented meals on radiation is one different good trigger for preppers to have fermented meals of their bug-out baggage

Fermented meals embody:

  • yogurt,
  • kimchi,
  • kombucha,
  • kefir,
  • tempeh,
  • pure pickles,
  • sauerkraut,
  • miso and natto.

Some fermented meals (yoghurt) require a ‘starter’. The starter accommodates micro organism. In the case of yoghurt, the starter is added to take advantage of. The micro organism digests the sugar inside the milk and creates yoghurt. On the alternative hand, sauerkraut would not need a starter, as a result of the pure cabbage juice accommodates the micro organism needed to indicate cabbage into sauerkraut.

‘Pasteurized fermentation’ merchandise is definitely an anathema. Fermentation requires micro organism.


Miso is a fermented soybean paste, which is an ordinary ingredient in Japanese delicacies. It is used as a flavoring in soup and standard Japanese dishes (1). Miso has been adopted into Western cultures as a stock for soups and salads. It may very well be a mix of soybeans, rice, wheat, minerals, dietary nutritional vitamins, microorganisms, salt, plant proteins, carbohydrates and fat. Miso has a extremely high salt content material materials, nevertheless salt low cost all through fermentation may end up in spoilage of food and food poisoning.


Natto is fermented soybean, usually often called shu douchi. It is a fermented soy product with a high content material materials of menaquinone-7 or Vitamin Ok-2, which is an isoflavones which will help forestall put up-menopausal osteoporosis. The pure content material materials of vitamin Ok-2 in natto is bigger than 100 events that of cheeses and is believed to catalyze gamma-carboxylation (2).


Kimchi is an ordinary Korean food manufactured by fermenting cruciferous greens with probiotic lactic acid micro organism along with garlic, ginger, and pink pepper powder. Kimchi is taken under consideration to be a vegetable probiotic (3). Kimchi is rich in probiotic lactic acid micro organism. Key micro organism present in kimchi embody leuconostoc, lactobacillus, weissella, bifidobacterium and saccharomyces (4).


Tempeh is a fermented soy product with a greater ratio of isoflavones than tofu.


Pickles (e.g. cucumbers) are pickled in a brine, vinegar, or totally different reply and left to ferment for a timeframe. Many pickles as we converse are pasteurized and lack useful bacterial cultures. Live pickles should be saved inside the refrigeration a part of any retailer (which is an environment friendly strategy to determine dwell pickles or fermented meals).

The theoretical health benefits of fermented meals are threefold:

1. During fermentation, dwell micro organism break down food making it easier to digest the food and take within the nutritional vitamins. Fermentation does among the many digestive work and makes food additional digestible. This makes it easier for folks to absorb the nutritional vitamins contained contained in the food.

2. Fermentation may even improve the dietary content material materials of food. For occasion, fermentation can produce B dietary nutritional vitamins in food that the food would not naturally comprise.

3. Fermentation can enrich the gut micro organism and may need useful outcomes on the human microbiome (see later half).

There are 2000 merchandise in the marketplace on Amazon relating to fermented meals, which includes books, capsules and glass fermentation jars and expensive picklers.

Fermentation may very well be very trendy.

Fermented meals made Whole Foods high 5 food predictions for 2016.

The #hashtag fermentation has just about 400,00 posts on Instagram.

Is There Any Research?

There are 8,581 publications related to fermented meals along with 200 medical trials. To put this into context, there are over 20,000 publications relating to probiotics which embody over 2,000 medical trials.

Do Fermented Foods Help Osteoporosis?

A analysis inside the Japanese inhabitants based osteoporosis analysis cohort evaluated the affect of recurring natto consumption and bone mineral density in 944 women (5). There have been statistically vital constructive associations between natto consumption and a defending affect on bone mineral density on the neck of the femur and the radius in put up-menopausal women.
No affiliation was found between consumption of tofu or totally different soybean merchandise and bone mineral densities. The authors concluded that the menaquinone-7, which is additional appreciable in natto versus soybean merchandise is the greater than doubtless bio-vigorous bone defending half and may be considerably helpful in women who’ve low-affinity receptors for Vitamin D.

Bottom Line

There is just a few proof to assist a job for natto and bone health. However this cannot be extrapolated to totally different fermented meals as natto has distinctive constituents which are believed to impact bone health.

Do Fermented meals Affect BP?

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Danish investigators carried out a full Cochrane Review in 2012, making an attempt on the outcomes of fermented milk and hypertension (6). The consider would not assist any constructive affect of fermented milk on blood pressure, and the authors useful in direction of the utilization of fermented milk to have an effect on blood pressure at a inhabitants diploma.

Bottom Line

Fermented milk would not help lower BP.

Does Eating Fermented Foods Give You Probiotics? (And does that matter?)

The human microbiome has captured the poll place in medical evaluation over the past number of years. We realized fully nothing regarding the microbiome in medical faculty. How points have modified.

Here are the vital factor phrases that are used on this rising self-discipline of study.


The microbiome refers again to the microbes (micro organism, viruses, fungi) that dwell inside us and on our pores and pores and skin. The microbiome outnumbers human cells in a ratio of 10 to 1, and account for about two kilos of our entire body weight. (No, chances are you’ll’t lose weight by eliminating your micrbiome. You merely cannot survive with out it).

The genetic load of the microbiome outweighs human genetic supplies 100 to 1. In some methods, we’re merely scaffolding for our microbiome.

Quite a humbling thought really.


The human gut is sterile at supply and evolves to comprise 10,000,000,000,000 bacterial cells per gram of luminal content material materials.

Bacteria present inside the intestinal tract lengthen a profound affect on our health and are known as the human microbiota.


Dysbiosis is a time interval given to a state of affairs the place there is a disturbance inside the common healthy microbiota stability or microbiome.


Prebiotics are selectively fermented parts which will change the composition of the human microbiome.


Probiotics are microorganisms which will confer a health revenue to the human host.

Lactic Acid Bacteria

Lactic acid micro organism are non-pathogenic, non-toxigenic gram constructive fermenting micro organism that produce lactic acid from carbohydrates inside the course of usually often called fermentation.

From a major science perspective, fermented meals are a provide of probiotics. By definition, probiotics confer health benefits.

The goal of fermented meals is to not significantly improve a relative proportion of any single micro organism contained in the microbiome, nevertheless to increase the final vary of the microbiome.

Fermented meals are an outstanding method in order so as to add vary to the microbiome. Even though a number of the micro organism in fermented meals do not really take up eternal residence inside the gut, they do produce useful outcomes as they cross by the use of.

Bottom Line

Fermented meals are a provide of probiotics which confer health benefits to the human host.

Is Eating Fermented Foods Good For Diabetics?

The affect of fermented pink ginseng on glycemic administration was evaluated in a placebo managed trial in 45 Korean adults (7)

Fermented pink ginseng led to a serious low cost in put up prandial glucose in matters with impaired glucose administration as compared with placebo

Eleven healthy matters consumed a administration and examine meal in a randomized cross-over design (8). The examine meal, comprising 200 g of boiled white rice with a ‘viscous meal’ (50 g natto, 60 g Japanese yams and 40 g okras), and the administration meal, comprising 200 g of white rice with non-viscous boiled soybeans, potatoes and broccoli. The examine meal was associated to a significantly lower put up prandial blood glucose diploma.

Korean investigators enrolled 21 adults with pre-diabetes in a analysis (9). Study contributors obtained each up to date (1 day outdated kimchi) or fermented (10 day outdated kimchi) for 10 days. After a 4 week washout interval, they switched to the alternate kind of kimchi. Consumption of every sorts of kimchi significantly decreased body weight, body mass index, and waist circumference. The percentages of contributors who confirmed improved glucose tolerance have been 9.5 and 33.3% inside the up to date and fermented kimchi groups, respectively. Fermented kimchi had additional outcomes on BP and insulin resistance/sensitivity.

Malaysian investigators found that fermentation using Mardi Rhizopus sp. pressure 5351 inoculums could enhance the antihyperglycemic and the antioxidant outcomes of mung bean in alloxan-dealt with mice (10).

An entire of 41 Korean victims enrolled in an intervention trial to evaluate the Korean typical food routine in victims with hypertension and/or diabetes and hypertension (11). The administration group was urged to “eat as usual,” whereas the experimental Korean Traditional Diet food routine group was fed the Korean Traditional Diet  thrice a day for 12 weeks. Regular consumption of the Korean Traditional Diet for 12 weeks by hypertensive and Type 2 Diabetes victims resulted in favorable modifications in cardiovascular hazard parts.

This raises the question as as as to if the health benefits are due to the fermentation course of or the mom or father compound or presumably every e.g. soy versus natto.

Dutch investigators evaluated the affect of fixing meat protein with soy protein on insulin resistance in 15 put up menopausal obese women (12). This analysis has been included proper right here as a lens on soy in diabetes .

A randomized crossover trial of a food routine contained protein of mixed origin (primarily meat, dairy, and bread) versus a food routine partly modified meat with soy meat analogues and soy nuts containing 30 g/d soy protein over 2- 4 weeks.  The soy-protein food routine resulted in statistically higher insulin sensitivity and reduce ldl ldl cholesterol compared with the meat based food routine.

Bottom Line

Fermented meals might provide health benefits in diabetes. However, it should be talked about that fermented meals won’t be a single entity nevertheless a varied group of meals. It might be a lot better to examine and advocate the utilization of a selected fermented food versus using the umbrella time interval ‘fermented foods’ as completely totally different meals might provide differential outcomes.

Does It “Prevent The Growth of Pathogenic Bacteria”?

There are two most vital medical reveals of overgrowth of pathogenic micro organism: antibiotic associated diarrhea (Clostridium troublesome an an infection) and intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome.

A double-blinded randomized placebo-managed was carried out in Washington DC and appeared on the affect of kefir on antibiotic associated diarrhea (13).

An entire of 125 children aged 1 to 5 years presenting to main care physician received kefir to see if it should most likely forestall antibiotic associated diarrhoea. The analysis has a antagonistic outcomes and confirmed that kefir did not forestall antibiotic associated diarrhea.

Symptoms of irritable bowel and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome are associated to an altered gut microbiome. There is nothing specific fermented meals for irritable bowel .

There is a Cochrane consider which evaluated the outcomes of probiotics inside the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (14). I consider that that’s worth along with proper right here though it would not immediately relate to fermented meals per se. An entire of 19 randomized controls and 1650 victims have been chosen for the overview. Probiotics have been statistically significantly increased than placebo, nevertheless there was vital heterogeneity in analysis outcomes. The authors concluded that probiotics have been helpful in inflammatory bowel sickness, nevertheless that the magnitude of the affect was unclear.

Bottom Line

There is not any direct proof that fermented meals forestall the overgrowth of pathogenic micro organism.

Do They Help The Body Produce Acetylcholine? (And does that matter?)

I’ve not thought of acetylcholine in years (not since third med pharmacology). Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that acts at neuromuscular junctions, the central nervous system and some body organs.

Chinese investigators studied the acetylcholinesterase  inhibitory actions of enterprise sufu and self-produced sufu (15). Sufu is a kind of fermented Chinese soybean.

High ranges of acetylcholinesterase inhibition would improve the amount of acetylcholine accessible by stopping the breakdown of the compound. Fermentation of soybean extracts with A. elegans resulted in  bigger anti-AChE exercise than did the potato extracts.

Interesting, nevertheless very far far from medical apply and this can be very onerous to draw any conclusions about what this might/could not indicate.

The mandarin Hon-Chi is the pink yeast rice fermented with Monascus pilous and Monascus purpureus.

Hon-Chi was given to fasting Wistar rats (16). The analysis design was superior and anxious measuring blood glucose and assessing acetylcholine carry out at nerve terminals.

The analysis found that Hon-Chi elevated launch of acetylcholine from nerve terminals. The acetylcholine then  stimulated muscarinic  receptors in pancreatic cells and and launched insulin and lowered glucose.

Bottom Line

There is nothing inside the scientific literature to assist any clinically associated operate for fermented food and acetylcholine.

Does It Improve Digestion?

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Japanese matters who eat higher than three bowls of miso soup per day have a 60% bigger payment of gastric carcinoma than those who do not (17). The Japanese Collaborative Cohort (JACC) Study for Evaluation of Cancer Risk was a analysis of 15732 males and 24997 women between 40 and 79 years of age. The analysis confirmed that gastric most cancers was 60% bigger in people who consumed higher than or equal to 3 bowls of miso soup per day. Sodium consumption had a linear correlation with a hazard of gastric carcinoma (P=0.002). The authors of the analysis concluded that the high salt consumption of miso soup was a causative problem inside the additional gastric most cancers seen on this cohort.

A analysis in 20 consecutive victims with constipation received 500 mL/day of a probiotic kefir beverage was administered to all victims for 4 weeks (18).

Study contributors reported an elevated stool frequency (p<0.001), improved stool consistency (p=0.014), and decreased laxative consumption (p=0.031). The diploma of straining all through evacuation confirmed a bent to reinforce after kefir administration nevertheless did not attain the extent of statistical significance. Fermented meals couldn’t revenue people who already have common healthy gut and a healthy gut flora.

Bottom Line

Fermented meals do not seem to help with digestive factors.

Is Eating Fermented Foods Safe?

Side outcomes of fermented meals embody gasoline, bloating, or change in bowel habits. Fermented meals are moreover very rich in sugar content material materials, and so care should be taken in diabetic victims. Fermented meals can also have a actually bitter model.

Fermented meals are associated to an elevated hazard of gastric and oesophageal carcinoma (17, 19). Specific fermented meals can have specific person signature toxicity risks.

Kombucha has been associated to suspected liver hurt, metabolic acidosis, cutaneous anthrax infections and even deaths (20).

Natto can improve the levels of vitamin Ok in plasma and negate the outcomes of blood thinning remedy paying homage to warfarin or coumadin. A analysis found that boiling significantly diminished the Bacillus subtilis rely and likewise  diminished the content material materials of menaquinone-7 (MK-7). (21)

The authors suggested that boiling natto could make it protected for people on blood thinning. However, I’d strongly advocate checking in together with your private doctor and punctiliously monitoring your blood coagulation if planning to take any kind of natto with blood thinners.


Theoretically, fermented meals could provide fairly just a few health benefits. But there’s a big draw back. The key draw back is not simply that there is very restricted evaluation. (I’ve to admit that the vital factor draw back was not immediately obvious to me). However, as I dived into the evaluation for this textual content, it turned apparent.

The draw back is that not all fermented meals are created equally. Any blogs or infographics that received right down to reply the question of the health benefits of ‘fermented foods’ are fatally flawed.

Fermented meals won’t be an element. Fermented meals are literally not a single entity. They vary vastly on the subject of the mom or father compound, the micro organism used and the exact fermentation course of. How can we lump sauerkraut, kefir and pickles within the an identical evaluation class? It is not any marvel that the outcomes of the evaluation are so inconclusive.

We should do centered analysis making an attempt on the outcomes of specific fermented meals for select medical conditions. We moreover wish to match and distinction the health outcomes of varied sorts of fermented meals for select medical conditions.

With good respect, I’ve to say that fermented meals come nowhere shut to fireplace. Fermented drinks, successfully that is one different story.

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