by: Amy Goodrich
Before the era of the fridge and canned goods, fermentation techniques were used t preserve foods and keep them edible for longer periods of time. According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, fermented foods have been around for nearly 10,000 years.
Our Neolithic ancestor’s only concern was keeping their food from spoiling. Little did they know about the effects these fermented foods were having on their bodies. As more research is being done to unravel the secrets of this ancient technique, we cannot longer ignore the bare facts.
Fermented foods are good for us.
Benefits of fermented foods
Lacto-fermentation is a process in which natural occurring bacteria feed on the sugars and starches in the food. During this process, lactic acid is produced and is responsible for the sharp or tangy taste and smell.
Lacto-fermentation creates a beneficial culture of healthy bacteria, enzymes, vitamin C, B-vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. The natural fermentation process has been shown to not only preserve food, but to help retain essential nutrients too.
The enzymes help to break down food into a more digestible form, putting less stress on the digestive tract while making it easier for our body to absorb nutrients from other foods.
Next to improving the nutritional value of the food, fermented foods introduce friendly, beneficial bacteria into the digestive system that help restore or maintain a healthy gut flora and kill harmful pathogens.
Emerging research suggests that probiotic foods, such as sauerkraut, support the immune system and contain anti-inflammatory properties to protect the body against chronic diseases like diabetes, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and depression.
Fermented foods balance stomach juices to safeguard the lining of the stomach and improve digestion. Furthermore, they stimulate the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter to strengthen the colon and facilitate bowel movement.
What are you waiting for?
Fermented foods are inexpensive and relatively easy to make. In sauerkraut, for example, the lacto-bacteria needed for the fermentation process are naturally present on the cabbage leaves. When you seal freshly chopped cabbage in a container or mason jar with filtered water and salt you are creating the ideal environment for these bacteria to thrive.
Fermented foods or drinks are very easy to implement in your daily diet. Fermented vegetables can be served as a side-dish or used as a condiment. Familiar examples of fermented vegetables include sauerkraut, kimchi, or pickles. Other fermented foods or drinks you may have heard of are rejuvelac, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, miso, and apple cider vinegar.
Many cultures around the world have been eating fermented foods for centuries. From sauerkraut in Germany to kimchi in Korea. However, mainly due to changes in our dietary habits these ancient traditions had to make room for processed convenient foods. Overly processed foods are low in nutrients and can do more harm than good when it comes to our digestive health.
Thanks to the ever-growing health-conscious community, fermented foods that encourage digestion are slowly making their way back to our society. Have you tried them yet?