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The word ‘fermented’ sounds anything but appetizing. And when we think of what the fermentation process actually is, adding bacteria or yeast to preserve food before it rots, we can’t help but be a little grossed out. But somehow, fermented foods have seemingly endless benefits.

Kombucha (fermented tea), kimchi (fermented cabbage), yogurt (fermented milk), fermented soybeans, kefir (another kind of fermented milk), miso (a mix of fungus, salt and fermented soybeans) are just a few of the most popular fermented foods. While some of them don’t taste all that bad, like yogurt, other fermented foods and drinks are an acquired taste. But whether they taste good or bad, fermented foods will make you feel pretty darn good.

1. The more bacteria, the better your digestion

“When [food goes] through that fermentation process… you can actually get more bacteria,” said Halifax Dietitian Angela Dufour.

But why on earth would you ever want more bacteria in your body? Well, eating enough of these friendly little organisms allows the tired bacteria that repair your digestive tract to rest and regenerate. This means that eating fermented foods can only do your body good.

2. Helps to relieve lactose intolerance and sensitivities

“Kefir breaks down that lactose, and so, it’s better able to be absorbed in lactose-intolerant or sensitive people,” said Dufour. This is because probiotics like kefir can actually break down the sugar in dairy, which makes digesting dairy easier. Don’t believe us? Try it out for yourself.

Kefir
Thinkstock

3.  Improves the absorption of vitamins and minerals

Remember when we told you that good bacteria in fermented foods break down what you eat? Well, since bacteria can help predigest food, your body can take in more nutrients and minerals without using up so much energy. Gotta love eating bacteria.

4. Boosts your immune system

There are two types of bacteria that go into our bodies: good bacteria and bad bacteria. When our bodies get more good bacteria from fermented food, the good bacteria has a greater chance of staying strong against the bad bacteria. So eat up!

Miso
Thinkstock

5. Buh-bye bloating

When testing the effects of fermented food on people with IBS, bloating improved by around 18 per cent. Although their pain wasn’t ‘cured’ by fermented food, we think it’s safe to say that fermented food can help to eliminate gas at the very least.

6. Fermented foods give you antioxidants

A study determined that kimchi is full of antioxidants, which protects you from harmful chemicals when your body breaks down food. How can something so close to being rotten be so good for you–not to mention flavourful?

Check out the video above to learn more about the benefits of fermented food.