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Consumer behavior is beginning to change in regards to food and is embracing more traditional foods. They are also relearning ancient culinary methods such as fermenting. This could be one of the most positive food trends in many decades as these fermented foods are really important for optimal gut health and plays a crucial role in how the microbiome plays in our overall health and mental wellbeing.
Your microbiome is one of the environmental factors that drives genetic expression that turns the genes on and off, depending on which microbes are present. According to research, many are deficient in beneficial gut bacteria.
Koji (Asperfillus oryzae) is now embraced by chefs around the world. It is a type of fungus that has been used for millennia in China and Japan. Asperfillus ferments and produces a number of enzymes known to be beneficial for animal and human health, which aids digestion and promotes a healthy gut. Sake, soy sauce, rice vinegar and miso soup are Asian foods and beverages made with koji. Western chefs are experimenting and coming up with all sorts of new koji-fermented products.
Koji is used to tenderize meats, cutting the time required to dry and age the meat from 45 days to as little as 48 hours. Koji looks a bit like rice pudding or little grains covered in powder. Over time the enzymes in the koji breaks down the connective tissue in steak and rids the meat of its moisture. The meat is beginning to decompose, and that is what makes it so tender.
Another use for koji is to use it as a marinade for fish, chicken and vegetables. Marinade for as little as 30 to 60 minutes and keep in mind that the food may burn faster than normal when cooked. It’s salty enough so do not add extra salt. Koji can also be used as a salt substitute.
The fermentation process produces:
- Beneficial healthy bacteria that promotes gut health
- Beneficial enzymes
- Certain nutrients, including B vitamins, biotin and folic acid
- Increased bioavailability of minerals
- Short-chain fatty acids that help improve your immune system function
Optimizing your gut health is a foundational step. Most people have poor gut health and would benefit from eating more fermented foods. Fiber serves as a prebiotic and is another important component. Ways that probiotic foods influence your health and well being are: enhancing nutritional content of the food, restoration of normal gut flora when taking antibiotics, immune system enhancement, improvement of symptoms of lactose intolerance, reduced risk of infection from pathogenic microorganisms, weight loss aid, reduced constipation or diarrhea, can help prevent allergies in children, antioxidant and detoxifying effects, reduced risk for helicobacter pylori, improvement of leaky gut, reduced urinary and female genital tract infections, improvement of premenstrual syndrome, improvement of and reduced risk for atopic dermatitis and acne, reduced risk for type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, improved mental health, mood control and behavior, improvement of autistic symptoms and reduced risk of brain diseases.
Optimizing your microbiome could be a potent disease prevention strategy.
Dr Fredda Branyon