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Sourdough bread, fermented cabbage, kombucha, kefir… Rich in probiotics, fermented foods are back in the spotlight and are good for the intestinal microbiota. What are their health benefits? How much to eat per day? What risks? Which ones to avoid? Discovery.

Definition: what is a fermented food?

Fermentation is an ancestral mode of conservation which consists of immersing live food in brine (mixture ofwater and salt). A process that transforms food thanks to the micro-organisms they contain (yeasts, bacteria) while improving their quality. Fermented foods are excellent for the intestinal microbiota.

What are the health benefits of fermented foods?

Fermented foods have many health benefits:

► They increase the digestibility of food: the fibers contained in vegetables become less aggressive for the intestines. For example, fermented cabbage is better tolerated.

► They promote the proliferation of “good bacteria” in the digestive tract. They thus play a role of natural probiotics which help reduce the risk of colon cancer, strengthen the immune system, better tolerate lactose and fight against digestive disorders such as bloating, nausea and diarrhea.

► They improve the assimilation of vitaminsminerals and trace elements.

► They reduce the lactose content of fermented milk products. It therefore becomes possible to consume it in case of‘intolerance.

► They improve the flavor of food: the more they ferment, the more they taste.

Since fermentation allows products to be preserved longer, it is possible to choose foods that are in season and have them fermented throughout the year. By developing, these bacteria will create new vitamins and therefore make food even more interesting from a nutritional point of view. commented Maxime Messegué.

What is the list of fermented foods?

  • fermented cabbage
  • Fermented dairy products: yoghurts, cheeses, fresh cream.
  • fruit kefir
  • milk kefir
  • the kombucha
  • miso
  • sourdough bread
  • The chutney
  • Pickles: gherkins, radishes, carrots, beets… All vegetables can ferment.

“Legumes, cereals, fish and meat (sausage) can also ferment”specifies the nutritionist dietitian.

How much to eat per day?

It is possible to consume lacto-fermented foods every day but in small quantities because they are high in saltwhich can favor or worsen high blood pressure“, warns the specialist. In case of known high blood pressure, it is best to seek medical advice beforehand. Fermented foods should be eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet.

What are the risks of fermented foods?

If fermented foods are beneficial for the microbiota, they can, when consumed in large quantities, cause adverse effects in some people such as: bloating, headaches, histamine intolerance which mainly results in itching, redness in the eyes, hives and sometimes even nausea and vomiting. Finally, insofar as fermented foods are bathed in brine, a mixture of salt and water, they are likely to favor orworsen high blood pressure. Contrary to popular belief, the risk of poisoning with fermented foods is nil if the fermentation is carried out correctly.

Contraindications: what are the fermented foods to avoid?

Fermented foods pose no health hazard. They are not subject to any contraindications but it is preferable to consume in moderation in case of high blood pressure taking into account their salt content”, reassures Maxime Messegué.

Thanks to Maxime Mességué, dietitian nutritionist in Paris

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