What is fermentation? It is a process where natural bacteria and microbes feed on the sugar and starch in food creating lactic acid. This lactic acid then lowers the pH, thereby killing off harmful or pathogenic bacteria, while preserving the food without the use of vinegar or preservatives. This process preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes, B-vitamins, omega 3’s and various strains of probiotics. Nearly 80% of your immune system is located in your gut, and by supplying it with plenty of probiotic-rich, fermented foods you are helping to keep it strong.
When you have more good bacteria than bad, you increase your chances of being able to fight infections and lower inflammation. Probiotic supplements can be limited to just a few strains while fermented foods can have up to 100 types more good bacteria.
For thousands of years, fermented foods were a staple in humankind’s diet. Fermentation provided both a method of preserving foods for consumption during winter months and a means of digestive and immune support.
It is a way to provide a safe, cost-effective and natural approach to a healthy diet that adds a barrier against microbial infection. The microflora that live in fermented food create a protective lining in the intestines and shield against pathogenic or disease-promoting bacteria.
Additionally, the short-chain fatty acids produced by the bacteria help maintain the integrity of the cells lining your digestive tract, which leads to an increase in antibodies. Fermented foods can also help to regulate your appetite and reduce cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates.
We recommend incorporating fermented foods into your daily diet for maximum benefit. There are many different types of fermented foods, some of which you may already be consuming such as kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, natto, and kimchi.
If you are just starting out with fermented foods, you may have some reactions to the foods – give it a little time; your body is getting rid of toxins that need to be released. The ferments are replacing toxins with helpful organisms that will make you feel great, just give your body time to adjust! Studies have shown that the human gut communicates directly with the brain; when you have a healthy ecosystem of friendly gut bacteria, the bacteria will work to keep both your body and mind healthy. If would like to read more about fermentation, we recommend “The Essential Book of Fermentation” by local author Jeff Cox, or the “Mastering Fermentation” recipe book by Mary Karlin.