Kimchi is a fermented mixture of cabbage, chili peppers, garlic, scallions and other spices that can take on salty, sour and/or spicy flavors, depending on the recipe used. It is a great fermented food from Korea.
Fermented foods: an ageless culinary tradition
Eating traditionally fermented foods is a simple strategy to optimize your gut health. Which is the basis of physical, mental and emotional well-being. Fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, are full of beneficial microbes that are lacking in the Western diet. Virtually every culture has a recipe for fermented foods that has been passed down for generations and, in some cases, from ancient times. In ancient India, for example, it was common to enjoy lassi, a fermented yogurt drink before dinner. Another mainstay of Indian cuisine is fermented pickles. Bulgarians are known for their consumption of fermented milk and kefir. While Ukrainians have long consumed fermented foods like raw yogurt or sauerkraut.
Various Asian cultures have traditionally consumed pickled ferments of cabbage, turnip, eggplant, cucumber, onion, squash, and carrot, and they still consume these fermented delicacies today.
Kimchi: a fermented food beneficial to health
Fermented foods are full of beneficial microorganisms that most people, especially in the United States, don’t otherwise get. Many people are unaware that their intestines house approximately 85% of their immune system. This is largely due to the 100 billion bacteria that live there, both beneficial and pathogenic, and which can stimulate secretory IgA to feed your immune response. When your gastrointestinal tract is not properly balanced, a wide range of health issues can arise. Including allergies and autoimmune diseases. In recent years, research has revealed that microbes of all kinds (bacteria, fungi, and even viruses) play a huge role in how your body functions.
For example, beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods have been shown to:
- Neutralize inflammation and control the growth of pathogenic bacteria
- Produce vitamins, amino acids (protein precursors)
- absorb minerals and eliminate toxins
- Control asthma and reduce the risk of allergies
- Benefit your mood and mental health
- Impact your weight
What’s in Kimchi
Kimchi, in particular, is rich in vitamins A and C as well, due to its fermentation process. It is also rich in beneficial gut-stimulating lactobacillus bacteria. It exhibits potent antioxidant and immunostimulating activities, as well as anti-obesity effects in animal studies. Kimchi also has antimicrobial properties that can be effective against pathogenic bacteria. The lactic acid bacteria formed during the fermentation of kimchi can also help your body break down pesticides. If you’ve eaten traditionally made yogurt, sauerkraut, or kefir, you’ve already eaten fermented foods.
The Secret of Kimchi: The Fermentation Process
During the fermentation process, microorganisms, such as bacteria, convert sugars into other compounds in order to produce energy. The fermentation process imparts a characteristic flavor and texture to the food while extending its shelf life. In fact, fermentation was once the method of preserving food. When fermenting vegetables, you can use a starter culture or just let the vegetables’ natural enzymes do all the work.
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