I’ve recently begun exploring this avenue of food preparation/consumption since I found I do not tolerate dairy well. Yogurt is an easy probiotic food to eat if you tolerate dairy. I needed to find other ways to get my probiotics in foods especially since taking a probiotic powder/pill is much less appealing, personally.
Fermented foods have been traditionally used for as long as people have been collecting and storing food. They quickly began realizing it was difficult to maintain their quality without some mode of preservation. They probably used sea water to ferment their foods since it already had salt in it.
The Vikings of Scandinavia remained healthy on long voyages out on the sea long after all the fresh food had been eaten. Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) was the most common fermented food consumed. The Vikings found that consuming sauerkraut kept them from getting scurvy, a result of vitamin C deficiency.
Side note: Sometimes I feel people don’t totally give our ancestors as much credit as they deserve. Even though they didn’t know the names and chemical structure of all the different nutrients in foods, they still observed a visible effect. In this case, they didn’t know what vitamin C was, but they still saw a significant change when foods containing this nutrient were eliminated from the diet.
Now that we have refrigerators and other modes of food preservation, why should you still consume fermented foods?
Well, preservation is only one of the many benefits of ferments. Here are a few more:
• Ferments are resistant to microbial spoilage and development of toxins
-The acid creates an environment that inhibits the growth of certain pathogenic bacteria, preserving the food from harvest to the time of consumption
• Biological enhancement of nutritional value
-Increases digestibility of starches
-Increases vitamin levels, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids
-Degrades proteins into amino acids (more bioavailable)
• Breakdown anti-nutritive compounds
– Trypsin inhibitors and phytates
• Bioproduction of Enzymes, anitibiotics, and anticarcinogenic substances
-Promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine
-Encourages peristaltic movements
• Improvement of lactose metabolism
-In lacto-fermentation, starches and sugars in vegetables and fruit are converted into lactic acid by the many species of the lactic-acid producing bacteria, lactobacilli
• Improvement of appearance, flavor, texture and consistency
-No need for special equipment or machines like those used in cooking, pasteurizing, canning, freezing, drying, sterilizing, and irradiating
• Stimulate the immune system
Written By: Anisa Woodall