These last several weeks have been so interesting getting to talk with so many of you about the health of your gut!
The more you know, the healthier you’ll be. However, just knowing doesn’t solve all the problems. Part of the equation is implantation or action.
I am a perfect example of knowing things and not necessarily taking quick action. On some things yes and others, I tend to drag my feet or wait until I have all my “ducks in a row.” Can any of you relate?
Why is that? I mean, if we know something is really good for us and it’s proven to work, why don’t we always do it? Why do we humans tend to take the long way around things?
The irony is that we often come back around to what we know we should be doing in the first place. We could have not taken up so much time if we just would have taken action in the first place.
The good news is this. You can jump on board when you are ready. Just don’t waste too much time getting around to it or lining up those “ducks.”
Since I have a passion for making and consuming fermented foods, I thought I’d share some history that I found fascinating and along with that some benefits and why you should be consuming these incredible healing foods. So let’s dive in, shall we?
What are Fermented Foods?
Let’s first look at todays’ foods. Most of today’s pickles and sauerkraut are made with vinegar instead of the traditional method of lacto-fermentation using salt and/or whey. Bread and pasta are made with commercial yeast instead of being naturally leavened with wild yeast as in a real sourdough. Wine, beer and cheeses are pasteurized, which kills off all the good bacteria we so desperately need to maintain health.
There are many advantages to going back to the traditional ways of our ancestors, and eating more fermented foods. And no they aren’t scary or hurt you.
Let’s now look at our history. Humans all over the world have been fermenting food since ancient times. The earliest evidence of winemaking dates back to eight thousand years ago in the Caucasus area of Georgia. Seven-thousand-year-old jars which once contained wine were excavated in the Zagros Mountains in Iran. There is evidence that people were making fermented 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.
“In the normal scheme of things, we’d never have to think twice about replenishing the bacteria that allow us to digest food. But since we’re living with antibiotic drugs and chlorinated water and antibacterial soap and all these factors in our contemporary lives that I’d group together as a ‘war on bacteria,’ if we fail to replenish [good bacteria], we won’t effectively get nutrients out of the food we’re eating.” – Sandor Katz
Benefits of Eating Fermented Foods
Improves Digestion – Fermenting our foods before we eat them is like partially digesting them before we eat or drink them. Sometimes people who can’t tolerate milk can eat yogurt or consume kefir. That’s because the lactose (which is usually the part people can’t tolerate) in milk is broken down as the milk is fermented and turns into yogurt and kefir.
Adding Good Bacteria to Your Gut – Fermented foods restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut. If you have issues with lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), yeast infections, allergies, or asthma, all of these conditions have been linked to a lack of good bacteria in the gut.
Boost Enzymes – Eating raw, fermented foods are rich in enzymes. Your body needs enzymes to adequately digest, absorb, and utilize the nutrients in your food. As you age, your body’s production of enzymes goes down.
Increase Vitamins – Fermenting food actually increases the vitamin content. Fermented dairy products show an increased level of folic acid which is critical to producing healthy babies as well as B vitamins, riboflavin and biotin depending on the strains of bacteria present.
Better Absorption – Eating fermented food helps us to absorb the nutrients we’re consuming. You can ingest huge amounts of nutrients, but unless you actually absorb them, they’re useless to you. When you improve digestion, you improve absorption.
Better Preservation – Fermenting food helps to preserve it for longer periods of time. Have you ever noticed how forgotten milk gets sour and rancid pretty quickly? But kefir and yogurt last a lot longer. Sauerkraut, pickles and salsa will keep for months. And if you’ve got a huge batch of produce in your garden that you don’t know how to use up — ferment it!
Cost Effective – If you were to start experimenting with fermenting, you’ll find that you don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment. The food types that you can use in fermented are usually not expensive, especially if you’re able to grow many of them yourself or someone you know.
Chock full of Flavor – Fermenting food increases the flavor. Just think of the last time you ate some great cheese or drank a nice glass of wine, you did this because they taste good. We’ve also grown up with sauerkraut as a favorite hot dog condiment or roast pork and sauerkraut for New Year’s Day for good luck.
Here are some good ways to incorporate more fermented foods into your diet
1. Eat real sourdough bread (you don’t want commercial breads made with yeast)
2. Drink fermented beverages like kombucha, kefir, or kefir soda to name a few.
3. Eat fermented veggies and fruits, like pickles, sauerkraut, salsa, and kimchi and don’t forget about fermented condiments, like mayonnaise, ketchup, sour cream, crème fraiche, and the like.
All of these things can be made at home or purchased from someone you know. They are often also available at Health Food stores.
If you’re like me and want to experiment, there are lots of ways to do so. Things like kefir ice cream, crackers that are actually made with sourdough, fermented coconut water and milk. There are fermented wines to be made and also mead which is a wine made from honey.
I often make breakfast cereals from kefir and soaked oats or smoothies from kefir. I also make a mean applesauce as well as several varieties of veggies, slaws and krauts. The ideas are endless.
No more excuses for not getting your ferments in daily.
What’s been your experience with fermented foods and/or drinks? Leave your comments below.
To your health,
Holistic Health Coach
PS: Have questions, hit the Let’s Talk Button and ask away or schedule some time with me to get them answered. I consider no question a dumb question only a smart one!