People had been fermenting food long before they understood the science behind the process. Food fermentation is one of the oldest forms of biotechnology. The conversion of carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids with the use of microorganisms under anaerobic conditions is known as food fermentation. The microorganisms used in fermentation are mostly yeast or bacteria. This process implies that even the actions of microorganisms are needed. The science of fermentation is called zymology or zymurgy.

Sometimes the process of conversion of sugar into ethanol is also known as fermentation. Through this process, alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine, and cider are produced. Fermentation also takes place in the leavening of bread and in the preservation of sour foods. As we all know, even today, most people worldwide consume fermented food products daily.

Other than bread, wine, and beer, some other widely consumed fermented foods are vinegar, olives, kimchi, salami, yogurt, natto, kombucha, tempeh, and cheese.

DIFFERENT KINDS OF FERMENTATION

The three distinct kinds of fermentation that people use are

* LACTIC ACID FERMENTATION: The process where yeast strains and bacteria convert starch r sugar into lactic acid in the absence of heat is known as lactic acid fermentation. This is an anaerobic chemical reaction. Lactic acid bacteria are necessary to produce and preserve inexpensive foods like pickles, kimchi, yogurt, sourdough bread, and sauerkraut.

* ETHANOL FERMENTATION: Yeasts break pyruvate molecules in starches or sugars down into alcohol and carbon dioxide molecules. This is also known as Alcohol Fermentation. It produces alcohol and beer.

* ACETIC ACID FERMENTATION: Through this process, starches and sugars from grains and fruits ferment into sour-tasting condiments. Acetic acid fermentation produces apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, and kombucha.

 

STAGES OF FERMENTATION

The process of food fermenting usually has two stages:

* PRIMARY FERMENTATION: This is a short stage where microbes begin rapidly working on raw ingredients like vegetables, fruits, or dairy products. The microbes present prevent putrefying bacteria from colonizing the food.

* SECONDARY FERMENTATION: This is comparatively a more extended phase that lasts for several days or even weeks. In this stage, the alcohol level rises, and yeasts and microbes die off. Winemakers use brewers use this stage to create their alcoholic beverages.

TIPS FOR STARTING FERMENTATION

You can follow these tips to start making pickles or even brew your own beer at home.

* Microbes are naturally present in the air, but you will need a “starter” set of cultures, such as whey, yeast, SCOBY, or liquid from a previous ferment, to begin fermentation. Starter cultures are already rich in beneficial microorganisms, so when you add them to the food or beverage, they will multiply and rapidly start the fermentation process.
* Sterilizing utensils or equipment is an essential factor that needs to be taken care of before fermenting food. Failing to do so will leave microbes on the equipment and result in the multiplication of harmful organisms. This will increase the risk of foodborne illness. If any such harmful bacteria is introduced to the food, the production of off smells and discoloration may be noticed in the food. Although fermented foods are considered safe and healthy for most people, some people may face the same adverse side effects.
* Exposure of the ferment to air can prevent or slow down the fermentation process. It will increase the risk of spoilage and food poisoning. Slumbering in a salt solution can prevent the fermenting food from coming into contact with air. This works well when the fermenting include solid pieces of food like vegetable pieces. * Keep your fermented product in a sealable container to avoid from air contamination.
* Fermentation can be managed by controlling and adjusting the temperature of the environment. Altering the temperature can significantly affect the outcome of the fermenting process.

Fermenting food is one of the oldest known uses of biotechnology. Fermented foods have evolved over the centuries worldwide as a local and artisanal practice. Fermented food products are prepared and consumed for thousands of years, especially in rural households. Many fruits, vegetables, and pickles are produced and preserved by using the fermentation process. Fermented foods are associates with a lot of health benefits. Some of the prime health benefits of fermented foods are:

IMPROVES DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

During the process of fermentation, the probiotics that are produced can help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in the gut and may alleviate some digestive problems. It is suggested that probiotics reduce uncomfortable symptoms of a common digestive disorder like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). More fermented foods may lessen the severity of diarrhea, bloating, gas, and tool frequency. Thus adding fermented foods to your diet might help in chronic gut problems.

BOOST IMMUNE SYSTEM

The immune system can be significantly affected if the bacteria live in the gut. Fermented foods that are high in probiotic contents can give your immune system a boost and reduce the risk of infections like the common cold. Probiotic-rich foods help recover faster hen sick. It is proven that some fermented foods are rich in vitamin C, Iron, and Zinc, which contribute to a more robust immune system.

MAKES FOOD EASIER TO DIGEST

Fermenting a food leads to the breaking down of the nutrients, making them easier to digest. The natural sugar in milk is lactose which is broken down into simpler sugar like glucose and galactose during fermentation. Fermentation helps break down and destroy antinutrients like phytates and lectins. These are compounds present in seeds, nuts, grains, and legumes that interfere with nutrient absorption. Fermented beans and legumes like tempeh increases the absorption of beneficial nutrients.

MENTAL HEALTH

Probiotic strains such as _Lactobacillus Helvetica _and_ Bifidobacterium longum are found in most fermented foods. These probiotic strains seem to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

WEIGHT LOSS

Some studies have found that certain probiotic strains like Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri present in fermented foods help in weight loss and decrease belly fat.

HEART HEALTH

Fermented foods lower risks of heart disease. Probiotics may modestly reduce blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol. Thus fermented foods are beneficial for heart health.

While studies are going on to establish some more benefits of fermented foods on human health, some of these benefits are proven.

Food fermentations are usually driven by microbial consortia, which may lead to significant changes in the nutritional properties of the fermented food product. Here are some key reasons why fermented foods can be harmful to human health

BLOATING

Bloating and gas formation is the most common side effect of fermented foods. This is because of the excess gas that is produced after biotics kill harmful gut bacteria and fungi. Some people can exper9iemce severe bloating, which can be painful. Drinking too much kombucha can lead to excess sugar and calorie intake, which in turn may lead to bloating and gas.

HEADACHES AND MIGRAINES

Fermented foods rich in probiotics contains biogenic amines Amines are created by certain bacteria to break down amino acids. The most common ones are present in probiotic-rich foods include histamine and tyramine. People sensitive to amines and histamines may experience a headache after consuming fermented foods. Amines stimulate the central nervous system, which leads in increasing or decreasing of blood flow, which can cause headaches and migraines.

HISTAMINE INTOLERANCE

Fermented foods have ample histamine. Most people don’t produce enough enzymes to digest histamine, which will instead be absorbed into the bloodstream. This causes histamine intolerance symptoms. The most common symptoms are itching, headaches or migraines, runny nose, eye redness, fatigue, hives, and digestive symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Severe symptoms include asthma, low blood pressure, irregular heart rate, circulatory collapse, sudden psychological changes, and sleep disorder.

FOODBORNE ILLNESS

Even though most fermented foods are safe, it is still possible to contain bacteria that can cause illness. Sometimes probiotics in dairy products like cheese and yogurt fail to kill certain bacteria. These bacteria secrete toxins that are hazardous to human health.

INFECTION

In rare cases, probiotics can cause infections, especially for people who have a weak immune system.

Probiotics are usually beneficial bacteria that provide all sorts of powerful benefits for the body and brain. Obtaining probiotics from supplements is a known way, but fermented food also provides probiotics.

Some fermented and probiotic drinks and foods that are super healthy and boost digestion are Kefir, Tempeh, Natto, Kombucha, Miso, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, and Probiotic yogurt, pickles, traditional Buttermilk, and Cheese. Thus, including such food in your daily diet will not do any harm. In fact, these will help your body and brain in several ways.