Why Ferment?

Recently fermented foods have been popping up at farmer’s markets, health food stores, and even traditional grocery stores. Why should you introduce fermented foods into your diet?’

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Since the time of Hippocrates (470-360 B.C.) it has been understood that “All disease begins in the gut.” If disease begins in the gut, it is probably to our benefit to have a healthy gut to help us ward of disease. A healthy gut leads to overall better health.

One way that good gut health is achieved is by including fermented foods in your diet. Fresh fermented foods contain probiotics. They are alive with good bacteria and yeasts that help to populate your gut and fight off bad bacteria. These gut microbes act as a digestive aid, helping to break down some foods and making their nutrients more available to the body. Research has shown that good gut microbes bolster the immune system and can enhance mood. Certain lactobacilli are being recommended by researchers to supplement other treatments for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis and to increase bone mass density. Those microbes need to be nurtured and supplemented.

The fermentation of vegetables is officially called lacto-fermentation. The “lacto” in the name refers to the lactobacillus strains that are active in the fermentation process. In the right environment, microbes in the atmosphere create lactic acid which is a natural preservative for food. The microbes pass into your system when you eat the food. Pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and yogurt are a few of the more common foods you may recognize that contain lactobacilli.

Although you may buy fermented foods, it is easy and inexpensive to create some delicious ferments yourself. Cooking from scratch gives you more control over your ingredients and the length of time, and therefore the density of microbes in your foods. One can add a variety of flavors to sauerkrauts and other fermented vegetables, for example, which leads to a diverse menu full of flavor and good gut health. In Benefits of Traditional Fermented Foods, Dr. Jyoti Prakash Tamang laments that fewer and fewer people possess the traditional knowledge to create fermented foods from scratch. Despite the health benefits, because there are limited providers of fermented foods in the marketplace there is a decline in biodiversity of micro-organisms. Eating a variety of fermented foods will increase the biodiversity in your gut and give your gut more tools to improve your health. 

Contributor: Liane Paulson, Wow Wow LLC. Liane will be offering an Introduction to Fermentation at Rise on Saturday October 13, 2018 from 1:30-2:30pm. Sign up for this or another workshop through her website at www.wowxtwo.com. She can be reached at wowxtwo@gmail.com.