Bacteria in the correct form is essential to life. Within our bodies it creates an environment that is not hospitable to illness and disease. Unfortunately in our modern culture, we’ve dismissed many of the traditional foods processed by lacto-fermentation, or culturing. We do everything within our power to kill all bacteria with the use of medicinal antibiotics, antibiotic wipes and sprays, and constant pasteurization of our foods.
This severe lack of “culture” is damaging to our intestines and overall health.
Benefits of Cultured Foods
- Cultured foods help to repopulate the digestive system with beneficial bacteria that helps fight off any bad bacteria ingested, keeping your immune system strong.
- Cultured foods keep your intestines strong and working properly, diminishing the occurrences of constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Having the correct amount of beneficial bacteria in the body helps to fight Candida yeast overgrowth (a systematic yeast problem associated with eczema, fatigue, yeast infections, yeasty diaper rashes in babies, jock itch, athletes foot, etc)
- They decrease sugar cravings! Your body craves sugar when yeast begins to get out of hand.
- Cultured foods are essentially “partially digested”, making it easier for your body to digest the foods and absorb available nutrients.
- In many cases it enhances the nutrient profile of a food allowing it to become even more nutrient dense.
Allowing vegetables to undergo lacto-fermentation creates a colony of wonderful bacteria, increases to availability of certain amino acids, and allows our bodies to better digest nutrients within the food. Sauerkraut is a classic fermented vegetable, and you can even make a fermented root slaw, or fermented salsa.
Probably the most well known cultured food is yogurt. It’s frequently advertised that it helps digestion…….and it does – by allowing the beneficial bacteria to work within the gut. Another cultured dairy product is kefir (keh-fear), similar to yogurt but remains much less solidified. You can also culture cream to make cultured butter.
Grains can also undergo a fermentation when you use the process of making sourdough breads. Grains are actually rather hard for your body to digest and when you use sourdough to ferment before consumption, it decreases the activity of the phytic acid contained within. (phytic acid is basically an anti-nutrient) A sourdough starter is easy to make at home for use in breads and even pancakes.
You can also make your own fermented drinks at home by using a kombucha SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria & Yeasts) and fermenting tea, or using water kefir grains to ferment a water/sugar solution. (I get my cultures from Cultures for Health)
We would be doing ourselves a great service by getting back to the way our ancestors consumed these foods. In traditional societies, before the invention of refrigerators, fermentation was a way to preserve foods and they were eaten each day.
How often do you eat fermented/cultured foods?
*This post has been linked to Real Food Wednesday
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