Written by Kenda Roberstson and Steve Moreau
Fermented Foods: Your Gut Will Thank You
Early Americans understood the importance of eating fermented foods. In fact, early American traditions included foods such as pickled beets, watermelon rind, and cucumber relish, which were originally lacto-fermented.
Many cultures around the world still use lacto-fermentation as a healthful method of preserving foods today.
In Russia and Poland, they eat pickled green tomatoes and peppers. The peoples of Japan, China and Korea enjoy pickled cabbage and eggplant, as well as fermented soy products like miso and tempeh. Cultured raw milk yogurts and cheese have been popular in India and Europe for centuries. Fermented sour dough bread, wine, artichokes, olives, sauerkraut and grape leaves are still staples in the European diet today.
What is lacto-fermentation?
Thousands of years ago, people learned to preserve fruits and vegetables for long periods of time using lacto-fermentation. This process creates lactic acid, a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria. The starches and sugars in foods are converted into lactic acid when combined with lactic-acid-producing bacteria and allowed to ferment, usually with just pure water and sea salt.
Benefits of fermented foods.
Fermented foods are loaded with amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Fermented milk is a great source of B vitamins and fermented vegetables are a great source of vitamin C.
Lactic acid promotes the growth of healthy flora (probiotics) in the intestines, which aids in digestion and strengthens the immune system. Getting these bacteria from fermented foods is more beneficial than popping a pill or eating commercially prepared foods — and it costs less too.
Unfortunately in today’s Western world we are taught to be afraid of bacteria. Most commercially processed “pickled” or cultured foods are pasteurized, use vinegar for a standardized taste and are not created with the healthful methods our ancestors used.
But that is changing as more lacto-fermented products become available on the market and Americans learn to make fermented foods at home.
Along with naturally fermented foods, be sure to include farm fresh organic grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, organic eggs and produce in your diet.