By Amy McCann.
Fermented foods are fast becoming the latest health trend as people rediscover their benefits for the digestive system, local natural food expert Elisabeth Fekonia says.
Mrs Fekonia said in the last two or three years she has seen an increased interest in fermented foods.
“People are starting to question the quality of the foods that we get in the supermarkets and just becoming more and more aware,” she said.
“We’ve lost the art of fermentation, and we’re just getting it back now because so many people have digestive problems, even young people.”
At its simplest, fermentation is the soaking of foods in their own juices to convert sugars and carbohydrates into alcohol or acids, which creates living bacteria known as probiotics.
Sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kumbucha tea and kefir are all fermented foods.
Mrs Fekonia said by breaking down the substances, more digestive enzymes and vitamins were released.
“You’re actually breaking down the food and predigesting it before you eat it,” she said.
“Having all that probiotic food really helps to keep your skin smooth and plump, gives you lots of energy, lots of get-up-and-go, there’s just lots of benefits to it.”
Lu Bowden, 71, spent most of her life bloated, tired and depressed until she went to a dietician and found the cause – her gut.
“I generally eat something fermented before I have my main meal,” she said.
“It helps with the digestion.
“Coming up to this stage of my life, I’m sorry I didn’t know this 50 years ago.”
Two clients of Mrs Fekonia were able to stop their medication as a result of eating kefir, which is fermented milk made with cultured yeast and lactic acid.
“Both had really bad problems with digestion and saw the doctor all the time and were on all these medications, but once they both got onto the kefir…they said they just haven’t looked back,” she said.
Mrs Fekonia is no stranger to digestive problems.
She suffered from irritable bowel syndrome for many years but found the cure was switching to sourdough bread, which is fermented.
“I was bloated, gassy and I was hungry but I didn’t have an appetite,” she said.
“I’ve never had that since I started on the sourdough.
“All the irritating factors are broken down so it’s much easier to digest and assimilate the nutrients rather than just having your conventional bread.”
Mooloolaba resident Beverley Hall said she had been interested in home-grown foods and thought fermented foods would keep her at optimum health.
“I’ve got a husband with dementia so I need to be as well as I can possibly be to cope with someone with dementia, which can be pretty hard going,” she said.
Mrs Fekonia said once you were familiar with the fermentation process, it did not take much time at all and it was something you could do while you were cooking dinner.
She recommends having fermented food as a condiment on your meal.
“Generally you don’t need to eat a lot of fermented food because it is quite rich,” she said.