Put simply, fermentation is the process of increasing bacterial activity in a food or liquid. Many might shudder at the thought of bacteria (their bad rap precedes them), but it is important to distinguish the good from the bad. While there are strains of “bad” bacteria wreaking havoc out there, bacteria are actually essential for our health. At any given moment, there are over a trillion strains of “good” bacteria in your gut helping with digestion, giving your immune system a boost, and benefitting your well-being on every level.
What is Fermentation?
Fermenting a food or drink involves adding microorganisms (like yeast or bacteria) to it in an air-tight container. By doing so, you start a chemical reaction that prompts carbohydrates in your food or drink to convert to alcohols or organic acids, which produce the health benefits associated with fermented foods.
You may be most familiar with fermentation as a crucial process in making alcohol, yogurt, or leavening bread (anyone else try their hand at making sourdough during quarantine?). In reality, fermentation and process of fermented foods, has been around for thousands of years; a tried-and-true process, fermentation has been used throughout history for the following purposes:
- To create richer flavors, aromas, and textures in food
- To reduce time spent cooking
- To help preserve foods
- To reduce or eliminate non-nutrients
- To boost levels of protein, essential amino acids, and vitamins in foods
A Brief History of Fermented Foods
The process of fermented foods and drinks can be traced back thousands of years, and was originally used to preserve foods. The earliest archeological evidence of fermentation goes back 13,000 years, and comes in the remains of beer found in a cave near Haifa in Israel . The next record of fermentation comes in the form of an alcoholic drink made of fruit, dates, honey, and rice, and dates from 7000 to 6600 BC in a Neolithic Chinese Village called Jiahu . There is also strong evidence that fermentation was quite popular in the early years of human history, and was used in Ancient Egypt, Babylon, Iran, Sudan, pre-Hispanic Mexico, and other cultures around the world.
The science of fermentation (called zymology) was formalized by French chemist Louis Pasteur, who determined the importance of yeast in converting sugars to alcohols. He recognized that fermentation is not a process of destruction, but rather one that leads to the creation and birth of new cells.
Bacteria, Gut Health, and Fermentation
To better understand how beneficial fermented foods are for our health, we first have to take a look at the relationship between bacteria and gut health. Our gut is packed with trillions of bacteria strains, and the vast majority of these bacteria are either neutral or good for us.
The “good” bacteria in our gut helps:
- Break down and eliminate bad bacteria that we come across (though food, drink, and touch) throughout the day
- Aid digestion
- Extract nutrients and energy from our diets
- Support a healthy immune system
When we have lower amounts of this “good” bacteria, the balance of microorganisms in our gut shifts, with “bad” bacteria outweighing the “good”. Research has found that low levels of “good” bacteria and gut microbes are associated with malnutrition, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), obesity, neurological disorders, cancer, and more .
This is where fermented foods can be of enormous value. Packed with plenty of “good” bacteria, they can help restore balance to our gut and contribute to full-body wellness.
The Benefits of Fermented Foods
- Increase vitamin and nutrient content in foods
- Promote gut health and keep our microbiome in balance
- Strengthen our intestinal walls (and prevent leaky gut syndrome)
- Reduce free radicals and damaging inflammation throughout the body
- Support strong and healthy immune system function
- Help lower blood pressure and reduce atherosclerosis
Furthermore, studies have found that fermented foods help achieve antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-athersclerotic effects .
Fermented Soy Beans
- Help prevent post-menopausal bone loss for women 
- Support bone health and strengthen bone stiffness (which can help reduce fractures and ward against bone loss, especially for premenopausal women) 
- Demonstrate potent antioxidant qualities 
Fermented Coix Seeds
- Support healthy digestion
- Reduce bloating
- Aid with detoxification
- Ease water retention in the body
Fermented Brown Rice
- Improves energy
- Helps lower blood pressure
- Supports healthy digestion
- Reduces bloating
- Reduces stress and fatigue
Start soaking up all the benefits fermented foods have to offer, or simply incorporate NOOCI’s ReNOO Women’s Longevity formula, an all-natural, science-backed supplement inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine in your every day.