Fermentation is one of the oldest forms of food preservation, contributing to about one-third of the world’s diet. Fermented foods help maintain the proper microorganic balance in the intestinal tract and aid in digestion.
Fermentation is the preservation of a range of raw agricultural materials. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, fermentation is achieved through the process of bioconverson of organic substances by microorganisms and/or enzymes of microbial, animal or plant origin.
In addition to balancing flora in the intestinal tract, fermentation enhances the nutritional value of food through the biosynthesis of essential amino acids, vitamins and protein. The culturing of yogurt, for example, increases the absorption of calcium and B vitamins.
Dairy sources of fermented foods include cheese, kefir and yogurt. Yogurt can be made from cow’s milk or goat’s milk; goat milk yogurt is said to be easier to digest.
Plant sources of fermented foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and soybeans. Fermented foods such as bread and wine have been consumed for thousands of years.
In Supplement Form
Probiotics are the dietary supplement form of fermented foods. They are available in tablets, capsules, powders, beverages and suppositories.