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The Role of Fermented Foods in Traditional and Modern Diets

For centuries, fermented foods have been a cornerstone of traditional diets.This spans across cultures and across time, from sauerkraut in Germany to kimchi in Korea. Fermented foods don't just enhance flavour, but also provide a range of health benefits that most people are unaware of. In recent years, especially since the birth of social media, fermented foods have seen a resurgence in modern diets because of their positive impact on overall wellness and gut health.

In this article, we're going to do a deep dive into the historical significance of fermented food and their resurgence in contemporary diets. We're also going to provide a couple of lovely recipes for you to try at home yourself.

Historical Significance of Fermented Foods

One of the oldest methods of food preservation is fermentation, and it dates back more than thousands of years. Fermenting foods was discovered by ancient civilisations to extend the shelf life of their food but enhance their nutritional value. Fermentation involves the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using organisms such as bacteria, yeast or fungi. Some of the cultural examples include:


In Germany, sauerkraut is made from fermented cabbage.It's been a dietary staple for centuries and you'll find it in most dailies these days across the world to be put in sandwiches. It was valued for more than just its tangy flavour, but also for its ability to prevent scurvy during long sea voyages, though that's not so much a concern anymore.


It's been doing the rounds on TikTok, but kimchi is a spicy fermented vegetable dish. It's consumed every day in Korea, and it's known for its nutritional benefits and robust flavour.Kimchi is a huge source of vitamins AB and C.


This Japanese dish is made from fermented soybeans. It's got a distinctive umami taste, and it's prized for its high vitamin K2 content, which is excellent for cardiovascular health and bone health.

Fermented Foods in Modern Diets

Today, fermented foods have regained their popularity because of their probiotic content. The role in their promotion of gut health has meant that fermented foods are everywhere. Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed, confer health benefits.

Gut Health and Wellness

The human gut microbiome consists of trillions of bacteria. It plays a critical role in our digestion, immune function, and our overall health. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics which helps to really maintain that healthy balance of gut bacteria which is vital for the prevention of digestive disorders. Boosting the immune system and enhancing the way that we absorb our nutrients.

Probiotic Fat Burning Foods

Fermented foods have been recognised for their potential role in weight management. The probiotics found in these foods can influence the gut microbiota in ways that promote a healthy metabolism.

Fun recipes to try

If you want to incorporate more fermented foods into your diet, you can do with these lovely recipes below. They're practical, easy, and you can do them at home.

Homemade Sauerkraut

  • One medium cabbage.

  • One tablespoon of sea salt.

  • One to two teaspoons of caraway seeds (optional)

  1. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and set to one side before shredding the remaining cabbage finally.

  2. Mix the shredded cabbage with sea salt and caraway seeds in a large bowl.

  3. Massage the cabbage for 10 minutes with your fingers until it releases its juices.

  4. With a sterile glass jar, pack the cabbage tightly, ensuring it's submerged in its juices.

  5. Place those saved outer leaves on top to keep the shredded cabbage submerged.

  6. Cover the job with a cloth and let it ferment at room temperature for one to four weeks.

  7. Taste it regularly until you reach your desired flavour.

Classic Kimchi

  • One Napa cabbage.

  • 1/4 cup of sea salt.

  • Two cups of water.

  • One tablespoon grated ginger.

  • 4 cloves minced garlic.

  • 2 tablespoons of Korean red pepper flakes.

  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce (optional)

  • 4 chopped green onions.

  1. Chop the cabbage into bite sized pieces and soak in salt and water for two hours.

  2. Rinse and drain.

  3. Mix ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, fish sauce and green onions in a separate bowl.

  4. Mix through the drained cabbage with the spice mixture.

  5. Pack the mixture tightly into a clean sterile jar and press down to remove any air pockets, but leave a space at the top.

  6. Cover and let it ferment at room temperature for three to seven days, checking it regularly and tasting it for the desired taste. 

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