Fermentation has been going on since the beginning of time. It is the most ancient method of food preservation. All cultures across the world have fermentation as part of their cultural food history from sauerkraut in Central Europe, kimchi in Korea, miso in Japan, coffee in South America, southeast Asia and East Africa, cheeses in western Europe, cured meats in southwestern Europe, beer, wine and the list goes on. The origin of fermentation is so ancient that we can not trace back to when we did not have fermented foods in our lives. In fact, 1/3 of the foods we eat today are either fermented or at one point in their process where fermented and are actually considered gourmet.
Benefits of Fermentation
One of the first things I noticed when I started eating naturally fermented foods and drinks was that I stopped having stomach problems and became more resistant to colds and flus. As a trained wildlife biologist, I focused my attention scientifically on the wild microbiome to further investigate what was happening inside my gut. The answers and healing came swiftly and transitioned me into a whole other life—especially once I started listening to my body and let food become my medicine.
After incorporating gut-healing foods like bone broth and fermented foods into my daily routine, I could feel the difference it made in my everyday life. My blood pressure lowered, mood swings reduced and cravings for sugar and processed food decreased. Emotionally I was more grounded and focused.
Not only are fermented foods often higher in bioavailable (easily digestible) vitamins and minerals than fresh, but there is evidence that those immune-boosting and stomach-protecting, digestive-support properties I observed in myself are being repeated in others.
While the total amount of the bacterial good guys in raw traditional sauerkrauts or probiotic soda will vary from batch to batch, there appear to be potentially trillions of living beneficial microbes in our products. Health guru Dr. Joseph Mercola sent lacto-fermented vegetables from a jar of his own handcrafted raw sauerkraut to a lab for analysis.
“We found in a 4-6 ounce serving of fermented vegetables, there were literally ten trillion bacteria,” he said in a blog post. That’s more than an entire bottle of probiotics pills. Fermented foods are always more effective than probiotic pills because they offer you a wider variety of beneficial bacteria and are highly acidic and stronger in nature-allowing them to survive the harsh stomach acids.
We can think of probiotic foods and drinks as foot soldiers in our modern life. Instead of being fearful of bacteria and fungus as we were taught growing up, we need to become friends with them. If we take care of them, they will take care of us.
The wonderful news is that fermented foods fit into any diet. Whether you’re paleo, keto, vegan, raw or vegetarian, these flavorful foods can help preserve your seasonal produce and enhance your health.
Take action, eat wildly!