Posted on September 9, 2013
It’s very recent that fermented foods have begun to disappear from our plate. Modern pickles and sauerkraut are made with vinegar instead of the traditional method of lacto-fermentation using salt. Bread and pasta are made with commercial yeast instead of being naturally leavened with wild yeast (sourdough). Wine, beer and cheeses are being pasteurized — killing off all the good bacteria we so desperately need to maintain health.
But there are many advantages to going back to the traditional ways of our ancestors, and eating more fermented foods. There is evidence that people were making fermenting beverages in Babylon around 5000 BC, ancient Egypt circa 3150 BC, pre-Hispanic Mexico circa 2000 BC, and Sudan circa 1500 BC. There is also evidence of leavened bread in ancient Egypt dating back to 1500 BC and of milk fermentation in Babylon circa 3000 BC.list goes on and on: East and Southeast Asia with natto (fermented soy), kimchi (fermented cabbage), soy sauce, fermented fish sauce, fermented shrimp paste, to name just a few; Central Asia with kumis (fermented mare milk), kefir, and shubat (fermented camel milk); India and the Middle East with fermented pickles, various yogurts, torshi (mixed vegetables); Europe with sauerkraut, kefir, crème fraiche, and rakfisk (salted, fermented trout); the Americas with kombucha, standard pickling, and chocolate; the Pacific region with poi (fermented, mashed taro root) and something called kanga pirau, or rotten corn.
Today when we do eat foods that are traditionally fermented, like sauerkraut or pickles, they’re usually bastardized versions produced quickly for mass consumption
MAKE your own.
Dairy is another beneficiary of fermentation. In fact, next to no dairy at all, I put fermented, raw, grass-fed dairy as the optimum form. The fermentation process breaks down the lactose, thus mitigating a potentially problematic sugar and decreasing the carb content. Fermentation can render previously inedible or even dangerous foods edible and somewhat nutritious. The lectins, gluten, and phytates in grains, for example, can be greatly reduced by fermentation. I don’t advocate the consumption of bread, but if you’re going to treat yourself to any gluten grain-derived food, make real, long-fermented sourdough bread the one.
Before they’re turned into delicious, rich dark chocolate, cacao beans must first be fermented. This deepens the color and enriches the flavor, but most importantly it destroys the astringent tannins present in raw cacao.
Here’s 8 Good reasons to Eat Fermented Foods:
1. Fermented foods improve digestion.
2. Fermented foods restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut.
3. Raw, fermented foods are rich in enzymes.
4. Fermenting food actually increases the vitamin content.
5. Eating fermented food helps us to absorb the nutrients we’re consuming.
6. Fermenting food helps to preserve it for longer periods of time.
7. Fermenting food is inexpensive
8. Fermenting food increases the flavor.
The Gut-Brain-Immune connection Intestinal flora impacts more than your gut: It also affects your immune and nervous systems. Almost 80 percent of your immune system exists in your gut, which contains about 100 trillion bacteria. If you want to put that into perspective, you have 10 times more gut bacteria than the number of cells in your whole body! The gut also houses your body’s second nervous system, and you have the same amount of neurotransmitters in your gut as your brain.
There is a lot of controversy related to the non-fermented soy food products like soy milk; tofu, fresh green soybeans, whole dry soybeans, soy nuts, soy sprouts, and soy flour. On the other hand, fermented soy stops the effect of phytic acid and increases the availability of isoflavones. The fermentation also creates the probiotics (the “good” bacteria that our body is absolutely dependent on, such as lactobacilli) which increases the quantity, availability, digestibility and assimilation of nutrients in our body. Fermented soy include: Natto, Miso, Tempeh, Soy sauce, and fermented tofu or fermented soymilk.
As for what types of fermented foods are best, I’d stick with mostly Primal stuff to be safe; sauerkraut is great, if you can tolerate dairy, go for full-fat Greek style yogurt, or strain your own yogurt (much of the sugars are in the liquid whey). Kefir is another possibility, as are aged cheeses. To attain homeostasis, lose weight, and get these other health benefits, I recommend eating one to three servings of varied fermented foods every day.
Serve food with pickles, sauerkraut, salsa, ketchup, sour cream, kim chi, mayonnaise and other naturally fermented condiments.