Chances are, most people are driven to learn about fermentation because they've heard of its health benefits. Fermented foods hit the health angle in two main ways: their probiotic and prebiotic qualities. Probiotic means that the food contains still-living microbes—which, to drastically oversimplify a very complicated subject, aid in our gut health, helping to keep our microbiome in balance. The prebiotic quality of fermented foods means that microbes have already done a significant amount of the work in processing these foods for us, making them easier to digest and often unlocking nutrients that our own body could not otherwise have accessed. My diet proved to be an exercise in eating simply, and eating simply often means eating better, more nutrient-dense foods.
Despite the limiting nature of the experiment, which often made it difficult to put together a meal on the go, I had ample energy. I consumed significantly less sugar, and felt more satiated by the foods I was eating. Though many fermented foods do contain salt, I found I wasn't consuming nearly as much sodium as one might from typical processed foods. Plus, microbes help to regulate blood pressure, and so over the course of the year, my blood pressure went down. My cholesterol remained at healthy levels. (My doctor, at one point, simply told me to stop coming in unless something actually went wrong.) My digestion felt more consistent and less confused by unorthodox meal choices. My gut felt like it could handle anything, though of course, it didn't really have to, because fermented foods are by nature much easier for us to process. And while it's perhaps a coincidence—I certainly don't want to claim that my personal, singular experience counts as a scientific study—I did not fall sick at all during my year of eating bacteria and mold.