Kombucha. Kimchi. Miso. Sauerkraut. The one thing they all have in common? Fermentation. And health experts are beginning to see why this centuries-old process can produce a variety of health benefits.
That’s why Natural Factors chose fermentation for their Whole Earth & Sea Fermented Greens and Fermented Protein & Greens. These 100% fermented and certified organic formulas were designed to invigorate, nourish, and support a healthy lifestyle. These non-GMO, vegan-friendly formulas are packed with fermented organic superfood greens; fermented organic whole foods such as dandelion, cilantro, carrot, kale and beets; a blend of cordyceps, reishi, himematsutake, shiitake, maitake and turkey tail mushrooms (rich in polysaccharides); and the cleanest plant-based protein available.
Here’s more about why fermentation is key to maximizing the health benefits of supplementary nutrients like those in the Whole Earth & Sea line.
Helps reduce anti-nutrients.
“Fermentation is key for breaking down anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid, cyanoglucosides and lectins,” says Dr. Kate Rhéaume, naturopathic doctor and lead educator for the Whole Earth & Sea line. “These anti-nutrients are natural substances found in plant materials, but can hinder mineral absorption.”
Increases vitamin and mineral levels.
During the fermentation process, certain microbes produce small amounts of some B vitamins, such as thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, and in some cases even B12. Fermentation also increases levels of vitamins A, C and K in some foods and improves mineral bioaccessibility.
Improves phytonutrient content and absorption, while supporting healthy inflammatory responses.
Many greens, vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants, and when these foods are fermented, the phytonutrients are better retained. For example, scientists have shown that fermenting fruit and herbal smoothies with Lactobacillus plantarum and other bacteria helps preserve their polyphenols, as well as antioxidant vitamin C. This helps tackle free radicals that contribute to inflammation and, in turn, chronic disease risk.
Makes carbs easier to digest.
Fermented carbs are often easier to digest than unfermented ones. In part, that’s because some microbes can produce enzymes that help break down fibers in greens and other vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains. Similarly, microbes used to ferment dairy products produce enzymes that help break down lactose, the sugar in milk. This can help to reduce GI upset such as gas and bloating.
Enhances quality and absorbability of plant protein.
Fermentation may increase availability of certain amino acids. For example, when scientists fermented quinoa with L. plantarum, they found that the nearly all of the quinoa’s original amino acids doubled in concentration. In addition, fermentation has been found to increase protein absorption by up to 40 percent.
Promotes gut health and strengthens gut barrier.
Having a healthy microbiota is a key to gut health, and the fiber in fruits and veggies act as prebiotics that nourish the gut microbiota. “More than thirty years ago, researchers found that rural Japanese people who had a high-fiber diet rich in fermented foods, vegetables and fish had higher counts of beneficial Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species compared to North American urbanites,” says Dr. Rhéaume. Consuming fermented products can also decrease the likelihood that you’ll experience gas and bloating.
Supports healthy blood sugar levels.
Fermenting legumes and grains, which have resistant starch, can help decrease their blood sugar impact. Additionally, studies suggest that some fermented foods, such as kimchi and vinegar, may help support insulin function, which is important for keeping blood sugar levels in check.
Promotes heart health.
Research shows that green leafy vegetables, such as kale, can support healthy cholesterol levels. They are also a rich source of potassium and magnesium, which are minerals that support healthy blood pressure levels. Studies suggest fermenting the greens can boost their quota of these minerals. In addition, fermentation of protein-rich foods like dairy products can transform peptides into compounds such as ACE inhibitors, which have blood pressure-lowering effects.
Supports emotional and cognitive (brain) health.
Research suggests probiotic-rich diets may have positive effects on stress relief, as well as memory. Preliminary studies also suggest some fermented medicinal mushrooms may support cognitive function.
Guards against harmful bacteria and aids in detoxification.
During food fermentation, certain microbes produce natural antimicrobial agents such as bacteriocins. “These tiny, heat-stable peptides are very helpful to have in your system as they inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria,” says Dr. Rhéaume.