Fermented foods hold many great benefits and has been used in medicine throughout history. Sour milk products and lactic acid fermented foods have been important dietary staples for thousands of years. Early reports show that Chinese workers ate acid-fermented vegetables while building the Great Wall of China. The Japanese have routinely served a small serving of pickled vegetables with their meals. Centuries ago, the Koreans developed kimchi by acid-fermenting cabbage and other vegetables.
Before Christ, the Greeks wrote about the health benefits of fermented cabbage. The Romans used sauerkraut to treat and prevent intestinal infections. Throughout Europe, Russia, and the Balkans, sauerkraut and other lactic acid fermented foods (kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, kapusta, kvass, borscht, etc.) have become entrenched in the diet after centuries of use. The people of India use a food paste made from the juice of sauerkraut. Lactic acid bacteria are the principal organisms involved in fermenting dairy products.
It is critically important to fortify our intestinal systems with fermented foods. If you have digestive problems, it will be almost impossible to permanently eliminate them unless we improve the balance between the beneficial and disease causing bacteria that exist naturally in our intestinal system. Lactic acid producing bacteria are what naturally make milk products go sour and vegetables ferment.
Traditionally fermented foods are also known as probiotic foods. Lactic acid producing bacteria help acidify the digestive tract. They create an environment conducive to the growth of all healthy bacteria.
As we age or consume too many acidic foods, fermented foods help to ease discomfort related to having either too much or too little stomach acid. When the stomach produces too much acid, fermented foods help calm the stomach and intestinal lining. Also as we age, digestive enzymes and juices required for proper digestion begin to decrease. Eating traditional fermented foods like sauerkraut, buttermilk, and pickled vegetables can help make up for this loss. Small portions once or twice daily with meals should be effective.
By improving pancreatic function, which is of great benefit to diabetics, the carbohydrates in lactic acid fermented foods have been broken down or “pre-digested.” As a result, they do not place an extra burden on the pancreas, unlike ordinary carbohydrates.
German scientists were working with a strain of lactic acid bacteria found in sourdough bread, and discovered that it seemed to be more effective than other strains at killing microbes. In early lab results, it quickly eliminated the super bugs currently resistant to most antibiotics. Pharmaceutical companies stand to make a lot more money by selling antibiotics and other medications than by recommending a daily dose of fermented cabbage. However, always check with your doctor. He or she can help determine how necessary it is to use this method versus prescription antibiotics.
Lactic acid bacteria are the principal organisms involved in fermenting dairy products. Prior to the availability of starter cultures, milk fermentations relied on the lactic acid bacteria naturally present in raw milk.
Lactic acid bacteria are the principal organisms involved in the manufacture of cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese, sour cream and cultured butter. In some fermented dairy products, additional bacteria, referred to as secondary microflora, are added to produce carbon dioxide, which influence the flavor and alters the texture of the final product.
The fermentation of vegetables, a practice that originated in the Orient, has been used as a means of preserving food for more than 2,000 years. The most common fermented vegetables available in the United States are pickles, sauerkraut, and olives. Carrots, cauliflower, celery, okra, onions, and sweet and hot peppers are also sold as fermented vegetable products.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish. Made from fermented cabbage, radish, scallion and cucumber combined with a variety of other seasonings. Kimchi is high in fiber and contains high amounts of vitamin C and several carotenes. Depending on the particular mix of ingredients it is also high in vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium and iron.
Kombucha tea is made with fermented black or green tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. It is made by adding the colony of bacteria with the sugar and tea allowing the mix to ferment. The resulting liquid contains vinegar, rich in B vitamins and probiotics.
Why add more of these foods to your diet plan? Because fermented foods are rich in prebiotics, they help healthy gut bacteria to thrive and provide enzymes for better absorption of nutrients. Natural fermentation of foods helps break food down to a more digestible form. The presence of probiotics created during the fermentation process, improve not only digestion but they make a critical improvement creating good microbes in our intestinal system. Add a little of these foods to your daily dinner plate and enjoy!