6 desirable benefits of fermented foods

Do you like spoiled food? You haven’t eaten any? Why sure you have…

OK, I’m not talking about randomly spoiled food like an everyday piece of fruit with mystery mold emerging from its innards. And not that cantankerous piece of meat in the back of the fridge that smells so questionable your dog wouldn’t touch it.

I’m talking about foods that have been intentionally spoiled in a special way: fermented foods. These foods that are home to healthy bacteria that can help your digestive tract function better and which provide a wide variety of nutrients that your cells need.

And the spoiled food included in the paleo diet may be the healthiest food on your plate.

Think of foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, pickled onions or just plain pickles. All of these are produced by the action of beneficial (probiotic) bacteria.

In other words, these bacteria “spoil” the food, but in a good way that can make you healthier.

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Desirable digestive developments

Studies of the duties these probiotic bacteria perform in your intestines have turned up some surprising results. When you consume fermented foods, these microbes:

Better skin

Another great benefit of the probiotic bacteria in fermented foods includes better-looking, possibly younger-looking, skin.

A study in Japan found that a bacteria called Lactococcus lactis H61 which can be used to ferment milk and is used to make buttermilk, can help keep your skin better hydrated and healthier. It has been found to help protect the skin from unsightly infections.

Unspoiled foods

Another thing to remember about fermented foods – these items have a long, wonderful history in the annals of human cuisine and health.

Compare that back story to the additives that food companies add to packaged food that keep it looking fresh and unspoiled for years at a time on supermarket shelves.

Recent revelations about hidden food ingredients (including preservatives) that corporate food scientists have been sneaking into processed food reveal a dark and unsavory side to the snacks and “goodies” beloved by so many.

Turns out that because of a giant loophole in the types of chemicals allowed into food, no regulator is even keeping track of what additives and preservatives are lurking in chips, cookies, candy bars and other processed items.

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The food companies are putting in substances they say are “generally recognized as safe.” (GRAS) That designation, effectively allows additives untested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be put into food. And nobody knows what these concoctions can do to your health.

GRAS is supposed to cover traditional foods that would be a waste of time to test for safety. But the spirit of the GRAS regulations is being distorted in the name of profit. (By the way, GRAS allowed wood pulp in your Parmesan cheese).

“Consumers are being exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals that industry self-certifies as safe for use in foods, with little or no scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration,”  according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

CSPI, and three other consumer groups – Consumers Union, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Working Group — want the FDA to crack down on this continual adulteration of food sold in the U.S.

According to a report in the Huffington Post, “Over the years, companies have added over 1,000 ingredients to their products to “improve their product’s texture, taste, appearance or extend their shelf life” without ever letting the FDA know. And while most of these additives are considered safe, others have caused allergic reactions and long-term health effects.”

As the Natural Resources Defense Council has noted, GRAS should now stand for “generally recognized as secret.”

In the end, the choice of what to eat is yours: You can choose the fermented foods that have stood the test of time and that convey known health benefits or take a chance on processed food that are associated with disastrous health outcomes.

I know which ones I choose. And I’ve got trillions of friendly little bacteria in my gut that approve of my choice.

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Margaret Cantwell

By Margaret Cantwell

Margaret Cantwell began her paleo diet in 2010 in an effort to lose weight. Since then, the diet has been instrumental in helping her overcome a number of other health problems. Thanks to the benefits she has enjoyed from her paleo diet and lifestyle, she dedicates her time as Editor of Easy Health Digest™, researching and writing about a broad range of health and wellness topics, including diet, exercise, nutrition and supplementation, so that readers can also be empowered to experience their best health possible.