Food, Wellness

How Fermented Foods Can Help the Immune System

Can a pickle a day keep the doctor away? Weird question, I know, but hear me out: fermented foods like pickles have powerful medicinal properties that help digestive health.

Fermentation promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, which contribute to gut flora that aid in proper digestion and overall immune health.

Irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, nausea are just a few issues fermented foods can alleviate. Basically, they are kind of like natural Pepto Bismol!

Let’s explore the ways how fermented foods can help our immune systems.

The science of fermented foods

Essentially, food fermentation means the sugars in fruits and vegetables are broken down by enzymes when oxygen isn’t present. Bacteria enzymes make this possible.

The probiotics produced during fermentation process help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in your gut, which alleviates some digestive problems and aids the immune system. And in the time of a pandemic virus outbreak, all we can rely on is our own immune systems, so how about we give thanks to bacteria?

Not all fermentation is the same, though:

  • Lactic acid fermentation. Starch is broken down, and lactic acid is produced to protect the body from microbial diseases. This is how cheese and yogurt are born.
  • Ethanol fermentation. Yeast breaks down sugars into alcohol, creating products such as wine and beer. Cheers!
  • Acetic acid fermentation. Oxidation of fruit sugars creates vinegar. No wonder apple cider vinegar is a great medicinal food condiment.

Kinds of fermented foods

Meat-eaters, dairy lovers, and plant-based people: you all can participate in the fermented life! There are many kinds of fermented foods out there:

  • Kefir
  • Komucha
  • Yogurt
  • Miso
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles (cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes...)

Consider these foods to be comfort foods. And by comfort I mean: have comfort knowing that they are supporting your immune system in good and bad times.

Fermented food recipes

Homesteading has put me a great position to preserve and ferment my garden veggies by pickling. Garden vegetables that I grow during the growing season are later prepared as pickled foods that I eat in the off season or in times of emergency (like, now).

Making your own pickles and other fermented foods has its advantages: it’s cheaper, healthier, and sustainable (especially if you’re an avid gardener).

I make pickled cucumbers, zucchini, okra and green tomatoes to help with my gastroparesis; I’ve written an article on my blog post called Goodness of Pickles: Food Security, Vegetable Gardening and Health at Best that speaks to pickling.

Here are some useful links to fermented food recipes you can try while being quarantined. Enjoy!

Are you into fermented foods? How have they benefited you? What recipes have you been during the quarantine lockdown? Feel free to share!


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About Jacqueline Smith

Jacqueline is a guest writer at NatureHub. She writes about her experience and knowledge about sustainable urban gardening, permaculture, homesteading, and food forests.
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