Fermentation Amplifies Nutrition
Fermented foods make up a very significant portion of the foods and beverages found within non-Westernized, traditional dietary patterns.
Approximately 1/3 of the foods and beverages consumed as part of traditional diets are fermented. These diets are of course very healthy compared to ultra-processed Westernized dietary choices.
Properly conducted (artisanal) fermentation is a wonderful preservative. In addition, fermentation can magnify the nutritional quality of foods, especially plant foods where the nutrients are often embedded along with tough, fibrous anti-nutrients that can otherwise compromise nutrient extraction.
For example, the amino acid profile of a variety of many plant foods makes them look really suitable to support the building and maintenance of lean body mass (and all the other remarkable things that amino acids do for us). But what looks good on paper may not translate unless the anti-nutrients that block amino acid absorption are first broken down. How do we know that fermentation is so effective in breaking down anti-nutrients and getting the amino acids properly absorbed? Well, it’s easy to assess protein quality via its ability to promote growth in living animals. This is called the protein efficiency ratio (PER).
Now let’s consider sesame as an example. Fermented sesame has a 44% higher PER compared to raw. This isn’t just a sesame thing - fermentation can effectively transform many plant-based protein sources and ready them for absorption.
Consumers of fermented foods and supplements win in other ways, too. The same anti-nutrients that are broken down by artisanal fermentation are often responsible for digestive upset and bloating. Therefore, fermentation can also help to make dietary items better tolerated.
Tracey M. Beaulne, ND, has been a clinician for 15 years, focusing on complex gut-to-brain connections. Her experience with gut health has shaped her methods of treating the critical internal ecosystems. Visit thetummyclinic.com
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