The Wonders of Fermented Food
As researchers start to map the microorganisms found in fermented foods from around the world, studies are also discovering many of their functional properties. These include the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, allergic reactions and metabolic syndrome.
In some cases (such as cabbage), fermentation can even enhance the nutrition of a food (turning it into sauerkraut increases the bioavailability of vitamin C). Fermentation also makes it easier for your body to absorb nutrients as the living enzymes essentially predigest the food. This also aids in the digestive process. Some ferments, like Kombucha, are also known as great liver detoxifiers.
Just like we have ancestral lineage, we also have microbial lineage. Bacteria have evolved alongside humans since the dawn of time. And just like our genes can be influenced by our environment, so does our microbiome flux over time, influenced by diet, lifestyle, chemical exposure, medications and even stress.
With the increase of antibiotic use, anti-bacterial soaps, cream and wipes, and quite frankly, a bacteria-phobic mentality, we’re wiping away more than just a few bacteria. Sandor Ellix Katz, author of the popular book, ‘ The Art of Fermentation,’ says, “The problem with killing 99.9 percent of bacteria is that most of them protect us from the few that can make us sick.”
Most modern diets lack in the microbial diversity many of our ancestors experienced living off the land as hunter and gatherers. This is part of the reason why we need to make a concerted effort to consume more fermented foods.