For this last Monday Health Basics post of January, I am talking all things fermented. Partly because I have seen such big health improvements for myself since introducing these yummy things over three years ago, but also from anecdotal tales from clients and class participants about how much fermented foods have benefited them on their trails. Not to mention, ferments are seeing a kind of renaissance these days, it would seem! And with good reason. Read on for more.
This is one of those fundamental changes that will slowly and irrefutably support increasing your digestive function, thereby improving how you assimilate those foods you eat (meaning you'll get more goodies out of the food you're eating, so making your food dollar go even further!). Fermented Foods are a cornerstone of my practice, and including them in your day's food choices will be a critical component to supporting your sweet self to improved health and vitality.
Adding fermented foods to your regimen will help in myriad of ways, from supporting your immune system (85% of which lives in your gut!), to lowering inflammation in the body, to helping break down foods; they also boost the vitamins and mineral content of your food by freeing up more of those nutrients, and producing some of those all-important Bs as a side benefit of hanging out in your guts. People have been fermenting for millenia, tracing back even to the ancient Greek. Fermentation has been a steady way of the traditional life in just about every nook and cranny of this earth. People were doing this before they had freezers or had figured out how to can things. It was the original food preservation method that ensured that when the 187 cabbages ripened all around the same time in your Bubbie's garden, she could toss them in a barrel with enough salt to taste 'just so', leaving time to do the magic and alchemy. Over time, this cabbage would sour just right, and be the perfect accompaniment to a warm stew or pot roast in the middle of winter. Trying to eat those 187 cabbages all before they would go bad? Not possible. Talk about spoilage. Talk about waste. But salting and packing them so no air could spoil the lot? Turned them into delicious morsels that would ensure veggies could get you through winter. She was smart, your Bubbie.
Fermenting cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables keeps the indole-3-carbino intact, a well researched cancer fighter that has also been shown efficient in removing excess estrogen. Fermentation by-products also nourish our intestines and colon and contribute to increased nervous system health, including moods and hormone regulation (important for all bodily processes). They also help regulate dietary fat absorption, and help facilitate energy production. Oh and one of my favourite things, these good gut guys also chelate out heavy metal toxins! Crowd out the bad bacteria! Produce loads of the B vitamins as a thank you for giving them a place to hang out! They help prevent kidney stones and help detoxify endocrine disruptors! As if that weren't enough, they help neutralize the negative effects of pesticides. I mean come on, right? The list really does go on and on.
We are outnumbered 10 to 1, bacterial cells to human cells on every surface of our body. The palm of your hand holds more bacteria than the entire current human population on earth! Wouldn't you want a say in what kinds of bacteria reside there?
WHERE DO YOU GET FERMENTED FOODS?
You can make your own, of course. Bubbie would be proud. If you're keen to get going on your own, you might want to visit some recipes on my blog for a few ideas, just click on ferments when on the blog's home page to find them. (I am new to this blogging and recipe posting thing, so bear with me as I grow my catalog of recipes.) Of course you can purchase these foods in natural health food stores, or in the natural health aisle of your favourite grocery store. Be sure to purchase ones that indicate that they are still live or contain probiotics! A good tip in order to find them is to first look in the refrigerator section. Typical fermented foods to look for: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, relish, horseradish, kimchi, kombucha, water kefir, some preserved lemons, some sour creams, cheese, buttermilk, quark, creme fraiche.
You may also be interested to know that I host fermenting classes. It is easy to do, couldn't be more fun to host a gaggle of friends in the comfort of your own kitchen and learn first-hand how to make these cultured foods for pennies a serving. Check out this page on my blog to get the full run down on how to host your own.
This is just a perfunctory look at the benefits of fermented foods. If you'd like a broader discussion on the topic, learn how to safely introduce these foods in to your regime and some tips and tricks on how to make your own probiotic-rich sauerkraut at home, I'd like to invite you to a seminar I'm leading this Friday night, a collaboration with the good folks at Elan Family Wellness in Bowness. You will find the full details here.
Now go play with your food and make some fermenty fun, will you?