15 Dec What’s The Big Deal With Fermented Foods?
I know what you’re thinking. You’re envisioning that leftover that sat in the back of the fridge over the last month, developing a nice coating of mold and producing a sludge in the bottom of the container. That’s NOT what this post is about. What we’re going to talk about are the “traditional” foods and drinks, like kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt and kimchi, that are becoming more popular as of late. Many of these foods were quite common before refrigeration became widespread. Now that impressive health benefits have been recently discovered and quantified, there has been a new push to consume these fermented products.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
At this point, you’re probably wondering how fermentation occurs, so a little explanation is in order. Lacto-fermentation is the process in which the starches and sugars in raw vegetables and other foods are consumed by beneficial bacteria (typically a Lactobacillus strain, after which the process is named) which creates byproducts. The two main byproducts are lactic acid and carbon dioxide (CO2). Both of these byproducts keep the final product safe to eat by creating a more acidic and anaerobic (no oxygen) environment. This makes it almost impossible for harmful bacteria to take root.
WHY SHOULD I EAT THAT!?
Why we should eat fermented foods in the first place? YOUR HEALTH! As the raw food is broken down and preserved, we get several benefits in addition to the lactic acid and CO2. Fermented foods are essentially a culture of beneficial bacteria. With all of the buzz out there about foods containing “prebiotics” and “probiotics” there are NONE that can beat fermented foods. That is because prebiotics (fiber in vegetables) and probiotics (the bacteria that are doing the fermenting) are present in the finished fermented product! The probiotic bacteria have a CRITICAL function in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. When they are the predominant bacteria in the GI tract, our digestion system and immune system function properly. The relationship between the digestion system and immune system is very important because the GI tract contains 70-80 percent of ALL the body’s immune cells. So, is it any wonder that people who routinely have digestive health problems are getting sick all of the time?
Additionally, the fermentation itself does a great job of breaking down the raw food into a more easily digested product. The beneficial bacteria and enzymes present allow for much better absorption of the necessary vitamins and minerals. Also, due to the lack of cooking during the fermentation process, most of the vitamins and phytonutrients that are heat sensitive are kept intact.
So now you know what the big deal is with fermented foods. If you’re interested in a bunch of different recipes click (HERE).