Why should you eat fermented foods?

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.

These are some the foods that I'm currently fermenting (left to right): kombucha, iranian garlic torshi, moroccan preserved lemons, and mixed sauerkraut

These are some the foods that I’m currently fermenting (left to right): kombucha, iranian garlic torshi, moroccan preserved lemons, and mixed sauerkraut

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

• Probiotic
-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

• Affordable
-No need for special equipment or machines like those used in cooking, pasteurizing, canning, freezing, drying, sterilizing, and irradiating

Stimulate the immune system

I will post a video some time in the next weeks on how to make sauerkraut. For the time being, I will recommend a few of the sources that I use regularly:
Ferment resources

Nourished Kitchen

The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz

Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig

Written By: Anisa Woodall

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