MAKE FERMENTED FOOD PART OF YOUR REGULAR DIET
Fermented foods are found in all cultures around the world. Preserves, jams, pickles, chutneys, sourdough baking, Dosa from India, Kimchi from Korea, Kombucha from China, Moroccan preserved lemons, yoghurt in a variety of cultures and so on.
While our ancestors have been eating fermented foods for centuries, most people today include little or no fermented foods in their daily diets and they are paying the price with a poor digestive system. Why is it so important to have a healthy digestive system? As far as most of us are aware, it is the immune system that keeps our body in check.
According to Dr. Natalia Shulzhenko from Oregon State University people’s intestines contain more immune cells than the entire body.
“In a healthy person these microbes in the gut stimulate the immune system as needed, and it in turn talks back,” she said.
“There’s an increasing disruption of these microbes from modern lifestyle, diet, overuse of antibiotics and other issues. With that disruption, the conversation is breaking down.”
This conversation takes place through the assistance of good bacteria living in our gut. The gut is home to 70 – 80% of our immune cells and with a healthy immune system your own body can ward off and fight any disease effectively.
Until 10 years ago biologists believed the human body was a physiological island capable of producing all the enzymes needed to break down food and absorb the nutrients.
Many illnesses and diseases later we are finding out that much of these nutrients are not even available to our bodies without the help of trillions of bacteria that live in a symbiotic relationship within our bodies to ensure our perfect homeostasis.
Fermented food does several things to promote this:
- It introduces these healthy bacteria into our body. A person chronically deficient of these healthy bacteria would normally be advised to take probiotics but rather than take supplements it is better to take fermented foods which are rich in this. To maximize absorption of vitamins and minerals it is always best to take them in their most natural form.
- Beneficial microflora or bacteria living in our gut is so complex and so rich in diversity with many different strains that it is hard to accept that Man can harvest and bottle them in a capsule to imitate the kind naturally occurring in our gut. Even the medical profession is not in one mind about widely prescribing probiotics. Pharmacies sell them under the label of a health supplement.
- The good bacteria in fermented food releases natural chelators that latch on to toxins in our body and removes them and can even change them into less harmful substances.
- The bacteria in fermented food has already broken down the sugar and starch of food and creates lactic acid that makes the living enzymes and vitamins in our food more digestible by the body
- The good bacteria in fermented food cuts down the sugar content of food because it consumes the sugar to create lactic acid and this acidic environment it creates kills off disease-causing bad bacteria or pathogens.
Instead of nurturing and protecting these helpful bacteria, we have been destroying them through poor diet, antibiotics and in the process destroying ourselves.
Antoine Béchamp discovered and promoted this fact well over 125 years ago, but was ridiculed by the scientific community who favoured Louis Pasteur – who insisted that a “healthy” human body was completely sterile.
This opened the door for pharmaceutical companies to infiltrate the medical profession and today with pharmaceutical companies funding medical research, it will be hard to find the medical profession on the side of holistic healing as it will be in the interest of the pharmaceutical companies to keep people dependent on drugs rather than keeping them healthy.
So with this we entered the era of war against all bacteria and even today people see bacteria in a negative light. If you go to Wikipedia and look up Fruit Enzymes and Kombucha, popular among the health conscious, you will get information stating that there is no reliable evidence that these are beneficial to your body and even subtle warnings about such home prepared fermented food.
Fermented Food expert Sandor Katz describes this war against bacteria. “Beyond antibiotic drugs that individuals take, sometimes for important reasons (but typically overprescribed), we routinely feed antibiotics to livestock, chemically sterilize our water, and use antibacterial soaps marketed with seductive promises of killing 99.9 percent of bacteria. The problem with killing 99.9 percent of bacteria is that most of them protect us from the few that can make us sick. Continuous indiscriminate killing of bacteria in, on and around our bodies makes us more vulnerable to infection (disease) rather than less vulnerable.”
So rather than treating diseases head-on which is the conventional medical practice, it is better to strengthen the body to use its own immune system to find that perfect state of equilibrium again. Dr Thomas Lodi explained this best when he said “Disease is only an outcome required by the human body in response to internal and external stimuli to maintain homeostasis. The body never makes mistakes. We only perceive disease as a malfunction because we don’t truly understand its (the body’s) function.”
I have learned to incorporate fermentation into my cooking to ensure my family obtains the best nutrition from the food we eat.
Most of us take for granted that if we eat organic, we should no doubt be able to absorb all the wholesome goodness of that organic product. But if you use unnatural additives in the organic flour and cut down on the fermentation time, it makes no difference that the flour is organic. Your body is not able to extract the nutrients from that wheat in the flour.
This is why in our generation we are seeing more and more intolerance to gluten and people blame the wheat. Wheat is not the problem. The additives we put into it is what causes the problem. Wheat also has to be properly fermented before you consume it
For example I make bread every five days and add to that pastries and buns and cakes. I use only sourdough starter. This starter is nothing but bacteria and yeast, living organisms, existing in my fridge. In order for your body to be able to absorb the nutrition from the wheat, the dough or cake must be allowed to ferment for a few hours. Commercial bakeries take the short cut of factory cultivated yeast and skip the fermentation time because they are motivated by profit. Your health is not their priority. We have brought this practice of using commercial yeast and cutting down fermentation time into our homes by buying this commercial yeast and using it in our baking.
Yet this practice has only been around these last few decades. For hundreds of years people baked only with sourdough starter.
I’ve given dough from wheat as just one example of the multitude of different types of fermented food we should be exploring in our homes to strengthen our gut and gut bacteria so these good bacteria can continue to keep us healthy.
Watch how I use fermentation in my cooking