Fermenting food increases its nutrients, and more importantly, gets you lots of probiotics – commonly known as good bacteria – which we all know are great for your gut. We found these fuss-free (and tasty) options for you to dig into.
A tasty tip: Marinate this in teriyaki sauce for two hours. Then bake.
What it is: A carbonated drink made with tea and sugar, it tastes a little like cider or champagne.
Why it’s great: Kombucha has 20 to 30 beneficial strains of bacteria and yeast, which break down sugars and release gas (that’s why the drink is fizzy). These probiotics also produce B vitamins and organic acids that destroy harmful bacteria in your gut. Drinking a cup every day is believed to help your digestive system and give you higher energy levels.
Instead of cider, have: Ginger-Chia Black Tea Kombucha, $6.50 for 230ml Craft & Culture, www.craftculturesg.com
2. Milk kefir
What it is: Fermented milk that resembles yogurt, but is more watery.
Why it’s great: With 20 to 60 probiotic strains, milk kefir has more nutrients than regular yogurt (which averages three strains). It also has calcium, which builds bone density and is said to relieve symptoms of allergies and eczema. As 99 per cent of the lactose is broken down during fermentation, it’s practically dairyfree. Drink one bottle in the morning on an empty stomach to get the probiotics working in your body before consuming other meals.
Instead of yogurt, drink: Rose Bandung Whole Milk Kefir, $6.50 for 230ml Craft & Culture, www.craftculturesg.com
What it is: Bread made from fermented dough, which gives it a distinctive, tangy flavour.
Why it’s great: Sourdough is leavened with wild yeast and bacteria that occur naturally in bread flour. The bacteria break down the compounds in wheat flour to make it safe for people with gluten sensitivity. It’s also rich in minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc as well as antioxidants. Forget your no-carb diet and have a slice or two at breakfast.
Instead of white bread, eat: Country Sourdough Loaf, $6 The Bakery by Woodlands Sourdough, #01-05, 10 Jalan Serene
What it is: A chewy block of fermented whole soya beans with a nutty flavour, often used as a meat substitute.
Why it’s great: Soya is high in protein, fibre, B vitamins and essential fatty acids.
It may also help to reduce cholesterol levels and increase bone health. Even better, the probiotics in fermented soya could help your body better absorb nutrients. Buy tempeh that’s made with organic soya. A palm-sized serving – baked or grilled – is optimal.
Instead of fried chicken, eat: Yakso Organic Tempeh, $9.90 for 500g Ryan’s Grocery, 29 Binjai Park
What it is: An umami paste made from fermented soya beans and a combination of wheat grains, rice or barley.
Why it’s great: This versatile condiment is full of proteins and minerals like copper, manganese and zinc. The probiotics in miso produce vitamin K (which regulates blood clotting and aids bone health) and B12 (which keeps your nerve cells healthy). Stop at two teaspoons of miso paste a day, because it’s high in sodium.
Instead of chicken stock, use: Hikari Organic Miso Paste – Red, $5.95 for 500g Fairprice supermarkets
6. Nata de Coco
What it is: Fermented coconut water gel cubes.
Why it’s great: This traditional Filipino dessert has two strains of probiotics, and is full of dietary fibre – which clears your gut and keeps you full, and is thought to reduce the risk of colon and rectal cancer. Go for a guilt-free quarter cup of the low-calorie sweet treat.
Instead of canned fruit, eat: Wong Coco Jubes Nata de Coco, $1.48 for 360g Fairprice supermarkets
A PILL DOESN’T ALWAYS CUT IT
You might get a high quantity of probiotics by downing a pill, but pills don’t always offer the variety of probiotics you need, says Craft & Culture’s Winnie Ong, who has a Master in Medical Sciences from Boston University School of Medicine. She also says that fermented foods have added nutrients, essential vitamins and amino acids that capsules don’t.
HOW FOOD GETS FERMENTED
Fermentation occurs when micro-organisms like bacteria and yeast break down the sugars in food. Salt brine, whey, or starter cultures (products made from a blend of beneficial bacteria) are common ways to ferment food. Research indicates that fermented foods can help to support a good digestive system, regulate your appetite, and improve your well-being. A tip: Go for unpasteurised fermented products. Pasteurisation removes the bacterial and yeast cultures that are beneficial to your gut, says Bonnie Rogers, functional nutrition coach at The Nutrition Clinic.
TEXT DAVELLE LEE PHOTOGRAPHY ZAPHS ZHANG STYLING SHAN