Fermented foods

Fermented foods


Fermented foods

Fermentation has been a vital food process in cultures across the world since the beginning of time, and every region has its own repertoire of fermented foods. We Indians have idli, dosa, paneer, curd, pickles and preserves, while Western cuisines use a variety of cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi and soya products.

The process of fermentation involves breaking down the food item into an easily digestible form with the help of beneficial bacteria of the probiotic spectrum. Different cultures ferment food items differently, not only to increase their shelf life but also to give them a unique taste.

Processed and pre-packaged foods lack the required range of gut-friendly bacteria. This leads to increased acidity in the stomach (referred to as aama in Ayurveda). Including fermented foods in the diet helps balance this acidity, thus aiding digestion.

While we have access to a wide variety of store-bought fermented foods, their benefits may not be much. This is primarily due to the processing methods that usually involve the addition of only a few strains of bacteria, which is insufficient to ferment the food.

Moreover, such foods predominantly use chemical additives, preservatives and high quantities of vinegar or citric acid. Excessive consumption of these can lead to gut imbalances and gastric problems. Due to this, often the very purpose of eating fermented foods is lost.

Homemade fermented foods are the best way to reap the benefits of this food process. Research has proven that the traditional methods also have the added advantage of improving the bioavailability of nutrients, minimising the susceptibility to lactose intolerance and other allergies. Hence, homemade fermented foods consumed in moderation are a good addition to a balanced diet. Start today by preparing simple foods like curd and dosa batter at home.