Food Fermentation & Its Health Benefits

The fermented food market has grown at a significant rate over the last few years, due to growing consumer interest in fermented foods. These foods have proven beneficial in improving gut health, and this claim has become very important to consumers and companies. When we speak of the fermentation food trend, these foods offer many other potential health benefits as well; however, more research is needed to determine the full extent of these claims’ potential applications.

Fermented foods have gained popularity in the same way that diets are. Many human-related studies are needed in the fermented food market sector to substantiate claims of health benefits. But the promise held by such foods has resulted in growing investments by companies for various reasons, including gut health and alternative proteins. Research in this sector also meets formulation needs and has the scope for new food product development.

FERMENTATION

The fermented food market analysis and techniques date back to ancient times in food production. It is an age-old method used for preserving food, thus extending its shelf life at a time when refrigeration was not an option. Traditional fermentation involves the application of natural bacteria feeding on starch and sugar present in food, producing primarily lactic acid.

DRIVERS OF FERMENTATION

For the past several years, major food trends have been linked to gut health and plant-based proteins. Based on these two data sets, it is evident that the fermentation food trend strongly connects to gut health and several plant-based trends (including alternative proteins), which is why we are exploring these topics in greater detail.

The benefits of fermentation don’t end there. It also has applications in terms of developing alternative proteins, specifically meat and protein analogs that are not sourced from animals. These applications have significant potential for the advancement of animal-free or climate-friendly foods.

BENEFITS OF FERMENTED FOODS 

  1. The antimicrobial properties of lactobacilli isolated from fermented plant products, including kimchi, are due to the production of antimicrobial compounds during the fermentation process. These probiotic lactobacilli protect against pathogens such as Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes, as well as Staphylococcus aureus.
  1. In comparison to unfermented soybeans, tempeh was found to have greater free radical and superoxide scavenging abilities, which translates to greater antioxidant properties. Kombucha is a tea-based drink fermented by a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). These findings are promising because they indicate that they may offer some of the health benefits of tea, including polyphenols, the most abundant type of antioxidant found in foods.
  1. Studies have found that the immunomodulatory effects of some of the lactic acid bacteria, including lactobacillus, were confirmed in human trials. This led to increased interest in probiotics as a treatment for immunity-related disorders.
  1. A study showed that consuming fermented kimchi led to changes in the gut flora and reduced the Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio, a biomarker for obesity, while fresh kimchi consumption had no effect.

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