So What’s Up With Fermented Foods?
Before we get started, I want to assure you that everything will be ok. Even if you’ve eaten fermented foods, you’ll be fine. You’re not going to die.
I just wanted to get that out of the way so that you don’t have to worry or be distracted. Hopefully that takes a load off your chest.
Now, to answer the question, “What are the dangers of fermented foods?”
In the past couple of years, fermented vegetables and even drinks (kombucha for example) have become all the craze. And just as it is with celebrities, with the fame comes the haters. Many people devoutly preach the health benefits of fermented foods while others denounce it as overrated or even dangerous. The question is, “Who is right?”
A Little Bit About Fermented Foods
Fermented vegetables are made through a process called lacto-fermentation. Lacto-fermenation uses salt to kill bad bacteria while keeping good bacteria, or probiotics, alive. There other methods of fermentation but they all have pretty much the same result.
The goal of fermentation is to kill bad bacteria while allowing probiotics to thrive. These probiotics have many undisputed health benefits. Some of these include improved digestive health and a boosted immune system. But just because there are health benefits doesn’t mean there aren’t any negative side effects. The question still stands, “What are the consequences or dangers of fermented foods?”
The Dangers of Fermented Foods
The quick answer is that unless they are made incorrectly, you should be safe eating any fermented foods. There are several different factors that are a part of the fermenting process and if any of these are done wrongly, there can be negative side effects.
Another thing to keep in mind is that not all fermented foods are inherently healthy. Make sure that you buy from a trusted source and always read the ingredients.
While this is definitely not dangerous, a side effect of fermented foods can be a temporary increase in gas and bloating. However, this does not mean that something was done incorrectly during the fermenting process. Usually, these side effects will disappear within a couple of hours.
The 3 Factors of Fermentation
Because unsafe fermented foods do exist, it is good to know the things that can affect fermentation. There are three important factors that have a large effect on the fermenting process: salt levels, temperature, and hygiene.
1. Salt Levels
It is important when fermenting foods that you have the right salt levels. If too much salt is included, all the bacteria, including the probiotics, will be killed. If too little salt is added, the bad bacteria will not be killed and the food will spoil.
Much like salt, the temperature has a big effect on how well food ferments. When temperatures are too high, fermentation happens too quickly and the food will spoil. When temperatures are too low, the fermentation process will happen very slowly.
Like any any food, it is important that you use good hygiene when making fermented foods. Make sure to always have clean hands and a clean kitchen.
Because fermenting can be somewhat technical, most people recommend that you buy fermented foods from a trusted seller. If you do decide to do it at home, make sure to use a good, time-tested recipe and follow all of the steps above.
To summarize, there are a lot of proven health benefits of fermented products. However, when made incorrectly, they can become unsafe to eat. As long as you are smart, fermented foods can be a great addition to you diet. For more information on the factors of fermented foods, see this PDF.
If you are interested in trying some safe and healthy fermented products, visit our store.