Fermented foods are nutrient dense foods that have been preserved with lacto-bacillus bacteria. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits harmful bacteria in foods. The process of fermentation occurs when natural bacterias feed off of the sugars and starches in foods, converting them in to lactic acid. This process creates beneficial bacteria, enzymes, vitamins and probiotics.
Fermented foods have been consumed by every culture throughout history but have become a lost art in our modern lives. Sauerkraut in Central Europe, kimchi in Korea, miso in Japan, yogurt and chutney in India, and pickles and sourdough bread in the US, just to name a few. In the 18th Century, Captain James Cook was able to prevent scurvy among his crew during long sailing expeditions by sailing with large quantities of sauerkraut.
Fermentation not only preserves food, but it also breaks them down into a more digestible form. Both soy and milk become much more digestible when fermented.
Bringing these foods into your diet can give you amazing benefits.
Fermented Food Benefits
- Rebuild the healthy bacteria in your gut. Intestinal bacteria gets destroyed by antibiotic use and chlorine in water. Even you haven’t taken many antibiotics, you might be consuming them unknowingly if you eat meat or poultry that come from factory farms or consume tap water. Eating fermented foods on a regular basis will help turn this around.
- Help with digestion due to the high amount of beneficial bacteria.
- Contain high levels of micronutrients that are created during the fermentation process that cannot be gotten anywhere else.
- Boost the immune system, according to an article published in “The Journal of Applied Microbiology” in June 2006. This is because a large portion of the immune system is based on healthy levels of gut flora.
- They can help to prevent cancer. Fermented foods that are made from cruciferous vegetables such as sauerkraut or kimchi made from cabbage, fermented cauliflower, this recipe uses dill and this one has turmeric, and fermented asparagus all can help to prevent cancer. According to a study in Finland in 2002, the fermentation process also produces a substance called isothiocyanates that were found to prohibit the growth of cancer. So cruciferous vegetables on their own help to prevent cancer and the fermentation process enhances it and turns it into a superfood, so its a double whammy.
- They are inexpensive to make.
- They preserve food well and can last a several months in the refrigerator.
Where to buy them if you don’t want to make them.
There are several recipes listed below, but there are many places to buy them if you don’t want to make them yourself. Health food stores often sell sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and other fermented foods. Keep in mind, that you should buy fermented sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles, not the canned sauerkraut or kimchi which doesn’t contain any beneficial bacteria or pickles in vinegar. Anything that is canned or contains vinegar does not contain any beneficial bacteria. You can also buy kombucha in health food stores and in some supermarkets. There are also fermented foods that you can buy online, sauerkraut, pickles, and kombucha.
Fermented Food Recipes
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Book: Wild Fermentation
Book: Nourishing Traditions
Article: Health Benefits of Traditionally Fermented Foods