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Ferment…Your Gut Will Thank You

By Annette Demeny

health

Photo: Charles Buck

What is fermentation?

Back in the day, long before refrigeration, people canned and preserved through fermentation to extend the life of their harvest. Through a process called lacto-fermentation, good bacteria grows and preserves fresh fruits and veggies while also giving the body a dose of healthy bacteria.  This centuries old process is reemerging as a robust supporter of our gut flora (bacteria in our gut). You’ve most likely been consuming fermented foods already without even knowing; sourdough bread, apple cider vinegar, cheeses, and more!

Fermented foods are full of friendly, beneficial bacteria. These bacteria are often referred to as “probiotics”.

 

Did you know? Many store-bought probiotics supplements are often limited to 3-5 strains of bacteria. Fermented foods can have up to 100 times the amount of strains of bacteria in comparison to store-bought supplements. Wayyyy less expensive too!

 

Our precious bodies often need help making certain essential vitamins. Good bacteria in fermented foods can assist in doing just that. That list includes vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 and K. While these micro organisms (bacteria) are synthesizing and producing vitamins in your intestines (gut), your immune system is also being strengthened. That’s good considering that nearly 80% of your immune system is located in your gut! In addition, this good bacteria helps maintain a healthy cell lining for your digestive tract.

Lastly, fermentation is a great way to preserve food for long periods of time. Most fermented foods that you buy in supermarket jars or cans have been pasteurized and cooked at high heat, killing any friendly bacteria and loaded with artificial preservatives. The better choice is to ferment foods at home that create a natural preservative called Lactic Acid. Not only does Lactic Acid keep your food safe from harmful bacteria but it also contains enzymes that help your body break down food into smaller, more easily digestible molecules which in turn help the body absorb more nutrients. Win! Win!

Pickles and sauerkraut are among the most popular fermented foods. Other vegetables that people commonly ferment are:

  • okra

 

  • beets

 

  • ginger

 

  • green beans

 

  • broccoli

 

  • carrots

 

  • radish

 

  • cauliflower

 

Check out this recipe for Homemade Sauerkraut!

 

SFY Recommends ~

The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz

Fermented Vegetables by Christoper Shockey

 

I must know! What’s your favorite fermented food??

 

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