The rapidly increasing preference for fermented products like kombucha and kefir suggest that there is more to the story than merely health-conscientious consumers. Many cultures around the world have historically relied on these foods, suggesting a deeper significance beyond their preservation capabilities. These foods have clearly resonated among modern populations as well. From the traditional Korean Kimchi to Middle Eastern yogurt, nations have been consuming these foodstuffs for centuries. Could it be more than simply a method of preservation? Could it be that fermentation offers much more than just nutrition?
Research indicates that fermented foods provide a significant advantage to mental health, because they contain tryptophan and pre-formulated neurotransmitters. These substances play an important role in the production of serotonin – a key messenger responsible for regulating multiple aspects of brain function like mood. Studies have proven that regularly eating cultured food products can reduce stress over both long-term and short-term periods; so what types are most beneficial?
Brain health is a major focus of research and so it’s no wonder that researchers are exploring the impact fermented foods can have on cognitive function. An extensive study conducted by experts at APC Microbiome, University College Cork, Teagasc and more set out to discover which food had the most profound effect when it comes to enhancing brain well being. The team compared sequencing data from over 200 different edibles sourced globally in order to identify metabolites with potential positive impacts for mental acuity .
They were astounded that almost all of the 200 fermented foods tested showed an ability to improve gut and brain health. An unexpected front-runner in the race for cognitivity-boosting benefits appears to be products that are both sugar and veggie based that have undergone fermentation.
Fermentation of sugar is often overlooked as a beneficial process. The raw form is transformed into an array of metabolites that can be chosen for their positive effects on the body. The microbial community in fermented foods breaks down this “sugar” component until only useful compounds remain. Though it incorporates ‘sugar’ in its name, studies have shown these metabolic changes spark new possibilities to enhance our health.
Scientists are pushing the boundaries of what we know about fermented foods and their effect on mental health. They plan to put top-ranked ferments to a battery of tests which include an artificial colon environment as well as with animal models. This will help them gain insight into how these substances could have positive implications for our cognitive functioning. These findings suggest that adding probiotic rich foods like yogurt or kimchi into your diet may be a natural way of boosting wellbeing.