Fermentation, Probiotic and Gut health in food processing

by Shobha Hegde

Humanity has been fermenting food since the Neolithic age, long before people understood the science behind the process. Today, following the scientific discoveries of French microbiologist Louis Pasteur, who showed that living organisms initiate fermentation, we know why fermentation makes food like sourdough bread, cheese, and wine taste better

Bacteria and yeasts carry out fermentation. Humans use these organisms to make yoghurt, bread, wine, and biofuels.

Fermentation is a process where the sugars and complex carbohydrates in the food are converted into lactic acid, prolonging the shelf life of food.

Good bacteria can be found on the surfaces of vegetables and fruits and many other bacteria species with positive effects on our well-being and health.

Almost all our health concerns can be traced back to our belly. Ensure a healthy gut and the rest will take care of itself.

Behzad Azargoshasb


  • Fermentation gives us a highly nutritious food that is fantastic for our digestion and immunity.
  • It is tasty and aromatic as it is often developed that special umami taste. It may be bland; maybe spicy may be calming.
  • Fermentation makes food digest easier and the nutrients to assimilate.
  • It retains enzymes, vitamins, and other nutrients that are usually destroyed by processing food.
  • Food fermentation helps to reduce heart disease risk and aid digestion, immunity, and weight loss.
  • Restores proper bacteria balance in the intestines.
  • Reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance and decrease the chances of allergy.
  • Rich in enzymes can help with constipation.
  • Improves heart health
  • Improves the immune system

Some of the food

Common fermented foods include

  • Sourdough bread
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Tempeh
  • Kombucha
  • Yoghurt and more

I believe the best way to activate genius within the immune system is by ingesting certain superherbs and superfoods, taking probiotics and cultured foods, minimizing toxic food exposure by eating pure organic raw-living foods, and making appropriate healthy lifestyle improvements. 

David Wolfe

How does it work?

Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, beneficial microorganisms that help maintain a healthy gut to extract nutrients from food.

  • Probiotics aid the immune system because the gut produces antibiotic, anti-tumour, anti-viral, antifungal substances, and pathogens don’t do well in the acidic environment that fermented foods create.
  • Fermentation also helps neutralize anti-nutrients like phytic acid, which occurs in grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes and can cause mineral deficiencies. Phytates also make starches, proteins, and fats less digestible, so neutralizing them is extremely beneficial.
  • Fermentation can increase the vitamins and minerals in food and make them more available for absorption. Fermentation increases B and C vitamins and enhances folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and biotin. The probiotics, enzymes, and lactic acid in fermented foods facilitate the absorption of these vitamins and minerals into the body.

Types of fermentation

  • Lactic acid fermentation: Yeast strains and bacteria convert starches or sugars into lactic acid, requires no heat in preparation. Lactic acid bacteria are vital to producing and preserving inexpensive, wholesome foods. This method makes pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, yoghurt, and sourdough bread
  • Ethanol fermentation/ alcohol fermentation: Yeast break and bacteria convert starches or sugars down into alcohol and carbon dioxide molecules. This method makes wine and beer.
  • Acetic acid fermentation: Starches and sugars from grains and fruit ferment into sour tasting vinegar and condiments. This method includes kombucha and apple cider vinegar.

God made yeast, as well as dough, and loves fermentation just as dearly as he loves vegetation.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stages of Fermentation:

  • Primary fermentation — Microbes begin rapidly work on raw ingredients such as vegetables, fruits, or dairy. Microbes present in the fermented vegetable or fruits prevent putrefying bacteria from colonizing the food instead
  • Secondary Fermentation- This method lasts several days or even weeks, alcohol level rise, yeasts and microbes die off and their available food source (carbohydrates). Brewers and winemakers use secondary fermentation to create their alcoholic beverages.

Basic needs for fermentation:

    • Starter culture
    • whey( from yoghurt)
    • SCOBY – Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast (for kombucha)
    • Grains- Microorganisms held together by a matrix of polysaccharides( for water/milk kefir)

To ferment your own food is to lodge a small but eloquent protest – on behalf of the senses and the microbes – against the homogenization of flavors and food experiences now rolling like a great, undifferentiated lawn across the globe. It is also a declaration of independence from an economy that would much prefer we remain passive consumers of its standardized commodities, rather than creators of idiosyncratic products expressive of ourselves and of the places where we live, because your pale ale or sourdough bread or kimchi is going to taste nothing like mine or anyone else’s.

Michael Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

It is important to

  • Keep your equipment clean- to prevent bad bacteria from leaching onto your ferment
  • Avoid exposure -Exposing your ferment to air can prevent proper fermentation to take place and increase the risk of spoilage
  • Fermenting food from coming in contact with air, you can submerge it in a salt solution(brine)
  • Storage- Sealable storage container. Home fermenters use a mason jar with a lid to lock out air

Keys for effective management of fermentation:

Microbes work well when their environment is warm or room temperature. The refrigerator will slow the rate of fermentation. Heating ferment on the other hand will kill essential microbes.

My Experience with Fermentation:


I have been doing Probiotic food for almost three years the image you see is my Fermentation station. Some of the food I have prepared can be seen on the left-hand side. Yet to explore more food at my home in the near future 🙂

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