Fermented Foods and Your Health
What is fermentation?
Fermentation is the chemical conversion of sugars being converted by bacteria or yeasts into ethanol. This is also known as Zymology. The method of fermentation is thousand of years old and evidence of its use can be found all over the world.
Are all fermented foods the same?
Not exactly, the known health benefits of consuming fermented foods are only obtained when beneficial strains of bacteria are used in the fermenting process and also left behind in high amounts. Any food product that is fermented must not be made with commercialized yeasts or pasteurized. Ideally, the food must remain raw and unpasteurized so that the bacteria are not killed off. Most American foods that are fermented are also pasteurized to stop the fermentation process. This method kills the naturally occurring bacteria that we need. Pickles, sauerkraut, beer, wine, soy sauce, yogurt, milk, bread, cheese, and other fermented foods are no longer made with traditional methods of lacto-fermentation. They are commercialized, pasteurized, and fermented with vinegar instead of natural methods.
Why is it good for me?
There are many health benefits gained by consuming fermented foods and the benefit that is becoming widely known is that they can boost the healthy bacteria population in our guts. This boost in good bacteria improves digestion and nutrient absorption, prevents allergies, boosts our immunity, helps fight disease, and can have a profound effect on mood and depression.
Fermenting foods also increases the content of enzymes and nutrients while adding flavor to food.
Why do I need them in my diet?
The Typical American lifestyle and lack of healthy eating create an environment in our bodies that destroys healthy bacteria in our guts, increases the growth of bad bacteria, and lowers the enzyme content we receive from food. This lack of good bacteria can deteriorate our health, cause allergies, increase the aging process, cause bloating, gas, poor digestion, and decrease nutrient absorption.
Where can I find good food sources?
Look for food and beverages that are traditionally lacto-fermented, raw, unpasteurized, and grass fed (for dairy). Some great sources are: Kombucha, kefir, natto, naturally made sourdough bread, kimchi, yogurt, cheese, pickles, olives, and miso.
You can actually make most of these food items yourself and in most cases are better off, by following some very simple recipes that can be found online.