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The trend of supporting digestion and immunity is also extending to fermented foods, which are no longer limited to last year’s trendy kimchi, tempeh and sauerkraut.  This year, natural health lovers will begin to find a wider variety of new foods in different fermented forms. One of the benefits of these foods is that the fermentation process can liberate nutrients normally trapped in chemical bonds. This helps us to access and absorb more of the healthful nutrients in our food, including phytonutrients, some amino acids, B-vitamins and some minerals like zinc and magnesium. The process of fermentation can also increase anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in foods. One of the more widely available fermented ingredients found in foods and natural health products is fermented rice bran, or “Oryza sativa”. It is a byproduct of rice production, but it is rich in dietary fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. A recent study found that taking a fermented rice bran supplement increased the activity of hormones of the immune system without side effects.  In 2015 consumers will find these ingredients showing up in a wide variety of supplements including protein bars, shake powders and capsules. Other classic fermented foods, including various types of pickles, yogurt (including dairy-free options like coconut yogurt), sauerkraut, cheeses and miso, will continue to grow in popularity into the New Year.