What is Fermentation?

Fermented foods are found to be helpful in many aspects of the body. For instance, it aids with many diseases such as inflammatory bowel disorder, lactose intolerance, arthritis, and digestive problems.

Fermented foods in glass containers

Fermented foods are not foreign to your ears, or to your taste as well. Many foods that are included in your daily meal may even be fermented. For instance, red wine, bread, and cheese will not be gone on your table for a week’s menu. These food are just simply pleasurable and good for the mouth.

But aside from the pleasure that fermented foods offer, it also linked to many health benefits including proper digestion and preventing certain diseases such as arthritis, liver disease, and lactose intolerance.

Woah! That’s just much for a single dose.

So what exactly is fermentation and its process? Let’s find out.

Fermentation and its History

The process of fermentation is an ancient method which involves the use of microorganisms. The science of it is called zymology, and Louis Pasture is the first person to be called a zymologist. He even has studies regarding yeast and fermentation.

Since 7000 BC, fermentation is popular especially in making wine and beer. But as technology progress, milk products such as cheese and curd are invented using the same method. Either yeast or bacteria are used to convert sugar into organic acids. Thus, it breaks down complex substances and turns it into a simpler form. But in particular, bacteria is the one responsible for converting carbohydrates into acid; meanwhile, yeast is normally used for the production of alcohol. In the absence of oxygen, the fermentation process takes place. The condition is called anaerobic.

You can even compare fermentation with the glycolysis process wherein glucose have to be broken down and made into pyruvic acid, and so on. At the end of the process, depending on the organism used, the product will be either acid or alcohol. In short, the process of fermenting is also a chemical process.

Examples of Fermentation

To better understand the idea of fermentation, here are some fermentation process that will help you appreciate it more.

  • One of the common fermentation is the creation of a curd. It is produced from milk. And milk is left with lactobacillus bacteria for so many hours under the anaerobic conditions. Then, the curd can be served already. Or you may choose to refrigerate it for some time before serving it.
  • On the other hand, the best anaerobic fermentation would be the creation of beer. Beer has many sources. For instance, zymologist grains such as barley and wheat to produce it. The process is quite simple, but it requires patience to succeed. The first step is to dry and mashed the grain properly. Then, it will be combined with hot water and add yeast. It will be left inside a fermentation vessel for several days under anaerobic conditions. As the yeast consume the carbohydrates, thus the alcohol is formed. But it will take some time before the beer can be taken out of the vessel.
  • Wine is also a popular way to present the fermentation process. Its source is none other than grapes. And grapes have to undergo a bitter process before it turned into something aromatic and tasteful. The grapes have to make into pulps by crushing. They will be left like that for a few days. Like a flesh soaking in its own blood, so does the pulp in its own juice. They will be filtered after and put under anaerobic conditions after the yeast is added. Lastly, after some time, the wine will undergo a slow fermentation by transferring into a different vessel.

Two Types of Fermentation

Two types of fermentation processes exist in the fermentation world. They are as follows:

  • Alcoholic Fermentation – this kind of fermentation process is usually done in making bread, beer, and wine. Sometimes it is referred to as ethanol fermentation as either the bacteria or yeast breaks down ethanol, while pyruvate is broken and turned into carbon dioxide which comes from the glucose metabolism.
  • Lactic Acid Fermentation – this fermentation is simply defined as the conversion of lactic acid from lactose.

Fermented Foods Health Benefits

The process of fermenting food may be quite long and hard, but its result has many advantages aside from having a delicious meal. For instance, fermentation makes food beneficial to many aspects of our health.

Aids with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Functional and inflammatory bowel diseases can be modulated by the supplication of fermented milk with probiotics. This is based on clinical trials which reported to reduce constipation, bloating, and abdominal pain among patients with inflammatory bowel disorders.

Decreases Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

Lactic acid is the fermented version of lactose in milk. This version of lactose is much easier to digest for some individuals, particularly those that have lactose intolerance.

Improves Arthritis Symptoms

Arthritis is one of the many causes of disability. This kind of disease is popular among the elderly, although it is not elderly who can have the disease. The disease is characterized by pain, ache, swelling, and stiffness in the joint area. But some believe that the inflammation, produce or not produce by arthritis, can be managed by increasing one’s fermented foods intake.

Improves Digestion

The process enhances the digestion of food, making the food easier for your stomach to be digested and absorbed, as well as the absorption of the nutrients that lie in the food. Additionally, the bacteria that invaded the fermented food helps the gut good bacteria. And it is important to have a balanced gut bacteria.

Nutrients Enhancer

By fermenting food, it not only preserves the lifespan of food but also creates new nutrients inside it. It includes biotin, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, and B vitamins. Moreover, the digestibility and availability of the nutrients are improved

Suppresses H. pylori

H. pylori is a bacteria that is associated with many stomach diseases including ulcers. Fortunately, certain fermented foods have the ability to suppress the infection of H. pylori. One of these foods is yogurt, which shows in a published study to have a lower bacterium prevalence among the participants who consume yogurt in a week. Thus, fermented milk has a positive effect on gastrointestinal symptoms.

Best Fermented Foods

If you are looking for some of the best-fermented foods around the world, below are some of it. The following may or may not click your taste, but they are surely healthful and your body can benefit from it:

  • Kombucha
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Natto
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
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