Fermented Foods Friend or Foe?                                                                                                                                             by Cynthia Hill, NTP

Fermented foods such as Sauerkraut, Kim chi, Kombucha, and Kvass, are popping up everywhere. Are they really healthy or hype?  Let’s take a look:

Fermenting is one of the oldest, simplest & healthiest methods for preserving food.  It is easy to prepare and no special equipment is required – just a little patience while you wait for the fermentation to happen.  Lacto fermenting is simply soaking (cabbage, carrots, etc…) in brine usually containing salt or whey for which a specific type of bacteria cultivates called lactobacillus.  This bacteria builds lactic acid which in turn changes the quality of the food (taste, texture) and becomes rich in probiotics.  Fermenting does not involve cooking, heating or sterilizing as in canning so it is a living food with all the nutrients preserved.   Canning on the other hand destroys many of the nutrients and enzymes (sorry Frank’s Kraut lovers!).

I like to call fermented foods “food with benefits”.   In addition to probiotics, lacto fermented foods intensify flavors, are easier to digest, increase bio availability of nutrients, enhance vitamin and enzyme content, and decrease anti-nutrients which can inhibit mineral absorption.

According to Ayurvedic Medicine, all disease begins and ends in the digestive system.  When our digestion isn’t working as it pickled-jalapenos-preserve-preservedshould, toxins can accumulate in our blood and are stored in adipose tissue when not eliminated properly.  Adding fermented foods (good bacteria) to our diet can aid the process of cleansing and gently prevent toxin build up by helping the digestive tract return to its homeostatic function.

As you can see, there are many good reasons to consume lacto fermented foods and one of the best ones is they taste good!  If you are new to fermented foods, it is best to start consuming in very small amounts so as not to overwhelm your system with too many beneficial bacteria at once.  You do not need to consume large quantities of fermented foods at a time, think of them as condiments.

Join us at Antidote on November 14th at 7pm as we sample a variety of fermented foods and beverages and learn more about this nutritional powerhouse and how it can be a part of your healthy life!