Fermented foods contain live microorganisms, and provide a vital dose of diversity to your gut. Studies have linked fermented foods and increased microbial diversity to improved immunity, better weight management, cardiovascular health, glucose metabolism, and even cognitive function. 
Growing up in Bandung, my birthland… Tempe (or tempeh) is a staple food for our diet. Originated in Indonesia, Tempe is a source of protein and is available in markets everywhere usually wrapped in banana leaves, or frozen. Over there, they have many traditional fermented products such as Peuyeum (fermented cassava), Oncom Merah (soy and fungi), Tape Ketan (glutinous rice and yeast) to name a few. So, growing up, I was always exposed to fermented products. Now, fermented food has become a trend, people make fermented foods and drinks in their own homes with the help of YouTube and Google, also, Doctors, researchers and health gurus can’t recommend them enough! Not to mention the availability of products such as Kefir and Kombucha now in supermarkets. All good, right?
Not entirely. I watched some reviews about how people have had bad reactions to eating fermented food. We’ve been advised a lot on these channels (YouTube, TED talks etc) to have fermented food to heal our gut and how important it is in supporting the digestive system, even as far as helping with our mental health. In reality though it’s not for everyone. People with leaky gut, histamine intolerance etc will probably feel worse after eating/drinking them. I’m no doctor nor am I a nutritionist, but, Eric Bakker (naturopath) explained in the video below about how people must be careful about the microbe balance in the gut and be cautious about how much they are putting in their diet, because the gut can’t tolerate a massive amount of microbial onslaught if you are not used to taking fermented food.
Personally, I’ve never had a problem with having both kefir and yoghurt in the same day. They don’t affect me negatively, and a large number of people I know also include fermented food in their diet and they never have any issues but positive results. Now, I am exposed to a few more in the forms of Kefir and Kombucha. Adding fermented food to my daily diet is a bonus and I always like the challenge of creating tasty lunches which includes this beneficial food.
My personal favourites are:
- Tempe – fermented soybean (Indonesia)
- Sauerkraut – fermented raw white cabbage (Germany)
- Kimchi – fermented vegetables (Korea)
- Kefir – fermented milk (Caucasus Mountains)
- Kombucha – fermented tea (unknown origin)
The video below explains the health benefits of some of the food listed above. Have a look 🙂
Some of the recipes online have made me really curious about making my own, especially when they are laced in spices like the kimchi in this video, it looks delicious.
Making your own is also beneficial since you can control what goes in there and can make sure that it is a ‘living’ product, otherwise, you have to look for certain things in the food label. For example, things you should be aware of when buying sauerkraut are:
- No vinegar
- Not pasteurized
- Ingredients – cabbage, salt, seasoning
Read more on how to buy, make and ways to eat fermented food on the ultimate guide here.
I like fermented food, even with the odd disgusted look from people sometimes, but hey, some people can’t process the idea of eating ‘rotting food’ or bacteria, even though… they consume beer and eat cheese and some have eaten kimchi without fully realising that is it fermented. Without going into too many scientific details (I’m not a scientist) let’s just see it the simple way, fermentation creates something that tastes good, and rot produces something that tastes bad and smells bad.
So… Which fermented food is your favourite?