I haven’t always loved sauerkraut – in fact, there was a time in my life that I completely hated real foods, and preferred everything easy, and tasty, even if it was the worst food for me.
One day that all changed though – when we were on a mission to help my husband heal his leaky gut after a myriad of prescriptions played a large role in destroying his gut bacteria. Those prescriptions were the result of a several year military training and deployment in which he returned with anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder.
It was such a difficult time for all of us – but it was the start of our real food journey and we haven’t looked back since.
As we read more and more about the health benefits of fermented foods, we started doing things much differently – now, instead of being afraid of many fermented foods, we actually welcomed them.
We love them.
And now… we aren’t ever going to go back to our non-real food ways.
What are Fermented Foods?
Fermented Foods are foods that are full of probiotics – also known as good bacteria. When your gut has the ideal balance of good and bad bacteria, your body forms the foundation for a healthy mental, emotional and physical well being.
If you read the book, The Art of Fermentation, you will learn that fermented foods are a medium between fresh & rotten – which sounds incredibly horrible honestly… but the truth of the matter is that the process of fermentation does create pretty strong and intense flavors.
The process of fermenting foods is not new – it was done by many different cultures as many as 8,000 years ago for a variety of reasons, but the main one being one of necessity. They needed to preserve their foods for long periods of time without the use of refrigerating or canning methods.
One of the best books to reference is Nourishing Traditions – which explains the process of fermentation as lacto-fermentation. Lactic acid is a natural preservative…. that preservative prevents bacteria. The starches and the sugars that are in sugars are converted to lactic acid by the lactic acid producing bacteria or lactobacilli.
Are there Benefits to Fermented Foods?
As mentioned previously, early cultures used fermentation as a way to preserve their foods out of necessity. But fermenting goes far beyond preservation:
Here are four reasons you should eat fermented foods:
Fermented Foods enhance digestibility, as the process of fermentation preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, strains of probiotics and Omega-3 fatty acids. That multiplication of lactobacilli in fermented foods increases vitamin levels and product enzymes, that promote the growth of healthy bacteria for our gut and small intestines.
Inexpensive – you can incorporate very healthy foods into your home with fermentation. Make your own fermented cabbage and carrots with inexpensive produce from your farmers market. Or, make your own milk kefir at home from raw milk kefir grains. Kombucha can be made at home – and all of these items can allow your body to absorb more nutrients from the foods you are eating, thus allowing you to cut back on the supplements and vitamins you take.
Bioavailability of Nutrients – when your gut is in a better balance, then the enzymes help you absorb more of the nutrients in your body. Go a step further and pair this with a healthy real, whole food diet.
Food preservation – as mentioned earlier… lacto-fermentation allows you to store items like salsa, sauerkraut, and even fermented garden foods for long periods. MUCH longer than traditional canning.
Are Fermented Foods really that Important?
The answer is YES. Your gut wall houses 70 percent of the cells that make up your immune system. Those bacteria in our gut allow us to live – they allow us to digest food, to break down the nutrients in our food and to keep our immune system functioning at it’s best. Our body needs a great deal of bacteria to keep our micro biomes healthy –
At some point in time, you may have heard of probiotic rich foods, or.. in some cases, taken a probiotic pill. And supplements are great for those who may not have been doing anything previously. But… foods that claim to be rich in probiotics or, taking an probiotic pill will only cover a small piece of the pie when it comes to your gut.
The best way to incorporate more fermented foods into your diet are to grab a book like this one, above, and try new recipes.
Learn how to incorporate fermented drinks like raw milk kefir or kombucha into your diet – raw milk kefir is relatively easy to make and can be used for so many recipes.