You might have heard about the recent trends of incorporating foods like sauerkraut and kombucha in your diet for better health. But what if we tell you that foods like idlis, dosa, pickles, and even bhaturas have the same health benefits that the foods that caught recent limelight have!

These are called Fermented Foods !

Diversity in fermented cuisines in India is as varied as the cultures here! Fermented foods like idli and dahi have been described as early as 700BC. Fermented drinks like Toddy and Kanji have been enjoyed since eternity. Fermentation as a preservation technique has been used for thousands of years. Let’s dive into the world of fermentation and know how it affects our health and why it should be an important part of our everyday life.

Fermentation is the breakdown of sugar(carbohydrates) into alcohol in the absence of oxygen i.e under anaerobic conditions. Yeast added in bread dough eats the carbohydrate present resulting in gassing off of alcohol and making alcoholic beverages from fruits or cereals are both examples of fermentation.

To understand how the fermented products benefit us we need to understand a few terms like good bacterias, bad bacterias, probiotics and prebiotics. Our gut has millions of bacterias living and flourishing in them, but, don’t worry most of them are there to help you digest the food that you eat and these bacterias are called ‘good bacterias’, while the ones that don’t want good for you are called the ‘bad bacterias’. The good bacterias are called ‘probiotics’ and they need to be replenished through diet and they even help to kill the bad bacterias present. Just as we need food to function, these probiotics need it too, and the food for them is called ‘prebiotics’.

If you are wondering where fermented food comes into play in all of the things we mentioned above, well, they replenish the probiotics, isn’t that amazing!

Let us now acknowledge how many benefits these fermented foods can show in our body and skin health.

Improves Digestion

Good digestion is the key to good health. While everyone desires to achieve it, most of us lack behind. Including fermented products that bring with them the goodness of probiotics is the ultimate solution. Probiotics fight with the bad bacterias present in the gut to prevent or to help reduce the severity or of gut-related conditions like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas.

Play a key role in balancing our Immune system

Did you know that over 70% of your immune cells reside in your gut? Fermented foods contain live probiotics as well as the cell walls of the probiotics that have died during the fermentation process – and both of these interact with our immune systems in a way that promotes healthy immune function.

Increase Vitamin Content in the food

Apart from the delicious taste, fermentation enriches the foods with increased vitamin content. They are rich in Vitamin B group, Vitamin C, zinc, and folate(helps to break down, and form new proteins, prevents anemia). Absorption of nutrient increases in fermented foods because of pre-digestion, the bacterias/yeast are already at work to digest starches and sugars, making it more effective for us.

Increased skin quality and anti-aging properties

Fermented foods are rich in antioxidants and thus might help in anti-aging. You might not realize but your skin and gut have intricate connections, if your gut is happy then nothing can stop you from having glowing rejuvenated skin.

Now that you know how important fermented foods are, you might be wondering how to involve them on a daily basis, we have got you covered. We are listing below some categories of fermented food so that you can choose the one that your taste buds demand:

  • Cereal Based Fermented Foods

Cereals such as rice, wheat flour, finger millet, pearl millet, and pulses like black gram, red gram, and green gram are used in the preparation. Fermented foods like idli, dosa, and dhokla include batter formation with basic ingredients and then overnight fermentation. Fermented batter is then either prepared into steamed cakes(idlis) or as pancakes(dosa).

  • Cereal based Fermented Sweets

This is where our favorite jalebi falls into this category. Wheat, rice, and barley flours are predominantly used cereals.

  • Milk-based Fermented Foods

Curd(dahi), yogurt, buttermilk, and cheese come under this. A particular culture is introduced into the milk at a particular temperature and left for fermentation.

  • Vegetable and unripe fruit-based Fermented Foods

Pickles, kanji, sauerkraut, kombucha are some examples of this type. Lactic-acid fermentation of vegetables for preservation improves nutrient availability, microbial quality, acceptability, and shelf-life of products.

From the list above, we have selected 4 fermented foods for you(you can keep the fermented sweet products for cheat days) that are easy to prepare and have the same health benefits:


Idli can be made as a combination of pulses and cereals or only pulses, it can be stuffed with vegetables, eaten with sambar and chutneys, or can be tossed into sauces and veggies and eaten as fried idlis. You can get delicious recipes of idlis here

Good bacterias and yeast are introduced into the idlis by its ingredients. They are high in the bioavailability of protein and Vitamin B group.

Since idlis are steamed, they are low in calories and are often recommended by nutritionists because they are a whole meal in themselves when made with veggies and served with chutney.


Curd can be taken as chaas, lassi, mishti doi, added in different curries preparation, or can be just enjoyed alone!

Curd is made by introducing a previous culture into warm milk and left for fermentation. The LABs(Lactic Acid Bacterias) present in the culture multiply and produce lactic acid which makes the milk proteins curdle.

Curd is rich in good fats and proteins, calcium, and Vitamin D.


People enjoy the tart, slightly sweet taste of kombucha, and consider a healthy alternative for soda and cocktails. One can enjoy kombucha at any time of the day on its own or with a meal.

The Chinese call it “elixir of life”. This fermented drink is made with black tea, sugar, and a colony of bacteria and yeast. These little critters initiate the fermentation process, consuming 90% of the sugar while they're at it.

It is rich in vinegar, enzymes, B vitamins, lactic acid, gluconic acid, acetic acid, and probiotics and very low in sugar. It helps in the release of toxins from the body and once all those toxins are flushed out of your system, they won't be able to wreak havoc on your skin anymore. Bye-bye, pimples!


First, you shred the cabbage finely, then you layer it well with salt and then you leave it to ferment. You can make delicious sandwiches with it or just have it with your main meal.

Sauerkraut is a powerful acne-buster. It has plenty of bacteria and sulfur, a pimple popper combo that clears up breakouts and keeps skin blemish-free. Plus, it has a good amount of vitamin C, an antioxidant that doubles up as a skin brightener. If you fancy flawless, glowing skin, eat half a cup a day.

Include them in your diet and see for yourself the difference they make in your health!