By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
One of my goals for this year is to start consuming more fermented foods. Most people do not consume enough, or even know about the benefits of fermented foods, but they are vital to living a healthy lifestyle.
In this day and age, the increase in consumption of chlorinated water, pasteurized foods, antibiotic medications, and other medications in our bodies combined with too much sugar, alcohol, salt and processed foods which all lead to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria, the need for fermented foods is greater than ever before. Consuming fermented foods is known to contribute to an increase in gastrointestinal digestive bacteria in a positive way which in turns supports our health.
Many health ailments have been linked to poor bacteria in the intestines such as allergies, eczema, IBS, constipation, lactose intolerance, asthma and a range of other chronic health ailments.
The fermentation of foods aids digestion by partially breaking down the food components such as the lactose in yogurt hence why some people can tolerate yogurt but do not feel well after drinking milk or sour dough instead of regular baker’s bread. The main by-product lactic acid not only keeps foods in a state of preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.
People all over the world have been fermenting foods since ancient times. Fermenting foods enabled people to store food for long periods which allowed in season produce to be kept and enjoyed all year round. You can do the same in 2013. Grabbing inexpensive in season produce and pickling it is an excellent budget saving plan!
Serving your meals with fermented foods increases the nutrient bioavailability, enzyme content and absorption of your other food nutrients due to the proliferation of lactobacilli. Fermentation may also reduce anti-nutrients which are naturally occurring compounds found in foods that can inhibit the digestive process such as phytic acids, oxalates, polyphenols and goitrogens.
Fermented foods can be made from beans such as miso, natto, tempeh, soy sauce; dairy such as yogurt, kefir, quark; vegetables and fruit such as kimchi, sauerkraut, mixed pickle and other pickled vegetables, vinegar, pickled fruit, kombucha and mead and much more.
Kimchi, a fermented spicy cabbage, is a staple food in Korea. Kimchi is very well-studied for its medicinal, antimicrobial, and anti-aging properties. Scientists found that chickens infected with avian flu started to recover well after being fed a kimchi extract and it also helped further infection.
So enjoy fermented foods now that you know the many benefits they will provide for your health and well-being now and in the future. I plan to start making some of my own so stay tuned for recipes.