Fermented Foods: One of the Secrets to a Long Life

SeAnne Safaii-Waite, PhD, RDN, LD

Many of your patients are interested in what they can do to not only live longer but improve the quality of their lives. Fermented foods are in the nutrition spotlight these days and well they should be for their probiotic contribution to the diet. Our interviews with centenarians around the world reinforced the notion that fermented foods should be part of our daily diet. But how can you help your patients add these stinky fermented foods to their daily diets?

Due to the probiotic content of fermented foods, some recent studies suggest that they may help alieve gut discomfort from ailments such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. Though more research is needed to find out which strains of probiotics work best for what conditions, current evidence still gives good reasons for us to consider getting a daily dose of probiotics from a fermented food source.

Some fermented foods that seem to be more accepted include yogurt, sauerkraut (homemade), and soy sauce. Many people already are eating these foods without the full knowledge of their health benefits. Here are some not so widely consumed fermented foods: kefir milk, kombucha tea, tempeh, kimchi, miso and fermented cheeses, like pecorino. Some of these foods may be an acquired taste, but they are relatively easy to incorporate into the diet. Even beer and wine fall into the fermented food category.

For extremely motivated patients suggest making their own fermented foods. For example, pickles and sauerkraut are some of the easiest foods to ferment. Here is a great website for fermenting both of these foods: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/food_nutrition/canning/tips/46_fermenting_vegetables.html

For a great resource on fermentation recipes and processes check out Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz and Sally Fallon.

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