Fermented Food

in Fermented Food

What is “fermented food”?

I’m sure you have heard the term fermented food in magazines, Instagram, and your local grocery store. But what exactly is fermented food and how can you benefit from it. Fermented food is a type of food that has undergone a fermentation process, which involves the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms such as yeast or bacteria. Fermentation is an ancient process that has been used for centuries to preserve and enhance the flavor and nutritional value of food.

Everything was already invented by nature”  Antoni Gaudi

To understand the positive impact fermented food has on mental health we first must understand the gut and our gut-brain axis. The gut and the brain communicate with each other through a network of neurons, hormones, and immune cells, and research suggests that the gut microbiome (the community of microorganisms that live in the gut) plays a role in this communication. Some studies have found that changes in the gut microbiome, such as those that occur with the consumption of fermented foods, may affect mental health and behavior.

Gut-Mind connection

Your gut microbiome plays an intricate and important role in our mental health and overall mood. Your gut bacteria both produces and responds to hundreds of neurotransmitters needed by your brain, including those ‘feel good’ types, dopamine and serotonin. These are the same neurotransmitters our brain uses to regulate mood, cognition, and happiness. When your gut microbiome is imbalanced your brain can receive messages that can alter your mood leading to feelings as severe as depression or anxiety.

Fermented food is packed with probiotics (live microorganisms). These probiotics have been shown to improve the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, in turn allowing for a healthy and efficient gut-brain connection.

In addition to their probiotic content, fermented foods are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which may also contribute to their potential mental health benefits. For example, kefir (fermented milk) is rich in vitamin B12, a key nutrient for the function and development of your brain and nerve cells, making it essential for brain health.

Eat your way toward a healthy gut!

It's important to create a diverse, healthy, and balanced gut microbiota. To do this we need to consume foods that promote their growth. Some great fermented food options you make look to add to your daily diet may include kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, yogurt, and kombucha. 

As with any dietary change, it is always a good idea to consult with a registered dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet.