It was only last month that Professor Angelo Tremblay of Universite Laval reported that with probiotic intervention in diet, one can lose twice as much weight as through a diet devoid of it. The latest research from Cambridge University researchers marks another win for fermented low-fat dairy foods, such as yogurt, fromage frais and cottage cheese. According to the study, probiotics could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 25 per cent over 11 years. (Read more about Probiotics on wiki)
Now, I am in no power to question these scientists, but I wonder why microbes are all of a sudden taking over health news. A little research into it informed me that, microbes are actually masters of adaptation. I mean, why wouldn’t they be? You can find them in the most inhabitable places like bone chilling polar caps, mouth of active volcanoes, and even in our digestive tract. You sterilize your surrounding disrupting their habitat, attack them with antibiotics and what not, but they still come back. So, finally the world is bowing down to their domination.Anyway, I’m here in no mood to praise their survivor skills. I only wish to inform you as to why and how their skills can be leveraged to benefit our health. So, our intestines are like a microbial farm. We provide these microbes with furnished home and plenty of food, in return, they produce beneficial nutrients and help defend us from pathogens. 
Now, the question is why fermented foods are good for us?
This takes me to explain first, what happens during fermentation. It is essentially a process of breakdown of complex molecules to simpler smaller ones. This is assisted by microbes. They are the workers here who work in absence of oxygen to turn milk to yogurt and grains to bubbly beer.
So, basically, fermented foods are ‘pre-digested’ by good bacteria and yeast. They eat it before us, breaking sugars and starches into nutrients which are more easily absorbed by our system. Forgive me to put it this way, but they are actually bacterial poop and by products.
Flushing dirty images aside, remember, fermented foods are very effective in way that they are healthy supplements natural in every sense. The sour taste due to lactic acid acidifies our intestinal environment which further stimulates growth of good bacteria.
In my last article on probiotics (Eat More, Lose More), I explained how gut is our “second brain” and gut flora our “auxiliary cavalry” contributing 80% to the immune system’s capacity. And with the rise in intake of antibiotics and antibacterial cleansing products, our gut soldiers are dying an untimely death, posing threat to our future health.
Because of this and various other factors, we need to supplement with probiotics. A lactobacillus-reuteri supplement is a good one to start with.
Benefits of Fermented foods
- Relief to someone who suffers with persistent coughs and colds
- Controls the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, bloating, and flatulence
- Fights common allergies and flu
- Helps reduce weight and maintain a healthy figure on scale
What are some common fermented foods?
- Coffee (Only the washed and pre-crushed ones, not the beans), chocolate and tea. But do not consume them in excess.
- Sourdough bread and cheese
- Creme fraiche, yogurt and Kefir
- Wine, beer and vinegar
So, how much should I have them?
When it comes to friendly bacteria, the more the merrier – there’s no such thing as a harmful amount. So, have them whenever you can, make your gut flora bloom and reap benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
Other Suggested Readings:
References:  Parvez S, Malik KA, Ah Kang S, Kim HY. Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health. J Appl Microbiol. 2006 Jun;100(6):1171-85. Review. PubMed PMID: 16696665.