There's a reason why nearly all traditional cultures worldwide have some form of fermented food as part of their dietary staples. Unfortunately, in the rush to modernity and "convenience," many people have lost the taste for things like kefir, kimchi, and natto. These and other fermented foods are extremely healthy, providing a rich source of probiotic gut bacteria, which aid digestion, reduce inflammation and promote overall health.
In traditional Chinese culture, as in many other cultures, the boundary between food and medicine is blurred. Daphne Rota and Lisa Lipson, two American practitioners of Chinese medicine, describe the medicinal properties of many common herbs and spices, and offer a poached pear recipe with spices to improve lung and digestive function.