Fermenting Frenzy

Before week two of National Nutrition Month 2014 fades away, lets look at the increasing popularity of fermented foods.

Fermented foods are foods that have been created or have been subject to the process of fermentation, a “chemical alteration that transforms substances into simpler, more easily digestible compounds that provide  friendly bacteria and other nutrients.”*

The most familiar of these foods is yogurt but you will or have heard about other fermented foods such as kefir ( developed by shepards in the desert a long time ago), buttermilk, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut and kimchi.  Quite an international list.

One reason our list of fermented foods is global is because for hundreds of years fermentation was how people preserved food. Before refrigeration and freezing were possible, people had to find a way to make the bounty of the summer and fall harvest last throughout the winter months. Fermentation ( canning) was one of the answers.

So as I have pointed out before, what seems like a 21st century health breakthrough is really just a rediscovery of an old fashion habit.

Fermented foods have resurfaced again because science has discovered the many health benefits that foods preserved this was can provide. The key is bacteria.  Before you say “ick”, think probiotics. Probiotics these days are generally  recommended to straighten out a poor digestive system.

Probiotics is the general name for a group of helpful bacteria  that promote a healthy digestive system by keeping the bad bacteria ( that we all have) in check. When you have a good balance of bacteria in your digestive tract, you absorb more nutrients from your food, you strengthen your intestinal wall against unwanted invaders, and promote regularity which assists your body in detoxing the unwanted byproducts that we accumulate just by living. The best part is that these benefits are only the ones we know about. Scienctists suspect a healthy, happy gut filled with the correct balance of micro-organisms is  the answer to many of the health issues we have today.

Fermented foods are one super food trend that I can wholeheartedly endorse. This group of foods not only have a load of probiotics but they are also rich in a variety of nutrients. From calcium in the dairy products to the powerful anti-oxidants in miso and the fiber in kimchi and sauerkraut, this group of food superstars has much to offer. As an added bonus they are all low in fat and calories.

So this weekend have an order of kimchi with your beer ( another fermented food) and get that gastrointestinal party started !

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!