I love eating cultured vegetables and fruits and drinking cultured beverages. I enjoy making cabbage sauerkraut, fruit chutneys, fruit butters, fruit compotes, ginger carrots, coconut kefir, beet kvass, and salsa every month. My fascination with cultured/fermented foods started when I found out about them in my training to become a certified healing foods specialist.
I was in the classroom portion of my certification in 2008 and our instructors Caroline Barringer and Jennifer Pecot started teaching us all about the amazing benefits of eating cultured/fermented foods for healing. We learned how cultured probiotic-rich foods are the key to digestive health and immunity. We made all kinds of delicious cultured foods and beverages including coconut kefir, beet kvass, cultured butter, cabbage sauerkraut, salsa, ginger beer, sour cream, and coconut pudding. After making everything I was amazed at how easy these foods were to make.
Everything was so fresh, delicious, and good for you!
I was sold and immediately purchased vegetable culture starter and kefir starter and started experimenting with making my own versions of cultured/fermented food recipes. If you’ve never heard of or eaten cultured/fermented foods, I’m going to give you a quick explanation so you know what they are and why they should become an integral part of your diet. Hopefully this will motivate you to start creating your own delectable cultured/fermented foods.
Before pasteurization, refrigeration, and freezing, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and drinks were preserved for long storage through the use of culturing or lacto-fermentation. Fermenting or culturing foods is an ancient skill that has been used in a wide variety of different countries for years.
Lacto-fermentation causes the lactic acid-producing bacteria or lactobacilli to convert the sugar and starches in fruits and vegetables into lactic acid. Lactic acid bacteria are responsible for converting the milk sugar and milk protein in dairy products into lactic acid. Lactobacilli are microorganisms or live bacteria and are high in natural enzymes.
This lactic acid bacteria also acts as a natural food preservative that prevents bad bacteria from growing and causing food to spoil. Lacto-fermentation or culturing of foods and beverages creates probiotics or friendly bacteria in our digestive tract. These probiotics produce beneficial microflora which colonize in our intestines and keeps our digestive and immune system healthy and strong.
Cultured or lacto-fermented foods and beverages are an excellent source of healthy microflora including: Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactoccus Lactis, Lactoccus Cremoris, Bifidobacterium, and Acidophilus which all help maintain a healthy digestive and eliminative system.
Cultured or lacto-fermented foods and beverages provide excellent protection for the body against pathogenic yeasts, fungus, viruses, parasites, and the effects of antibiotics. These foods help strengthen our immune system and heal our gut along with providing our bodies with a high level of essential nutrients including probiotics, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fiber that are easy for you to digest and absorb.
If you eat a diet high in processed foods, are under stress, drink carbonated beverages or alcohol, takes antibiotics, hormone replacement, prescription medication, or have experienced an illness or undergone medical treatments you definitely need to include cultured foods and beverages in your diet to maintain or restore good health.
A good guideline is to eat at least 2-4 ounces per meal for cultured vegetables and fruits and 8 ounces per day for cultured/fermented beverages.
Some of the key roles probiotics or friendly bacteria perform are:
Moves out pathogenic bacteria and creates substances (bacteriocins) that kill pathogens.
Crowding out and destroying unhealthy yeast.
Production of organic acids which improve the digestive PH and help regulate acidity levels.
Production of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, vitamin K, and biotin.
Pre-digestion of protein, carbohydrates, and fats in foods that are consumed.
Detoxification of unhealthy toxins and chemicals in the body.
Support optimal cholesterol and healthy blood pressure.
Creates a large portion of the body’s stool.
Lacto-fermented or cultured foods are also extremely rich in living food enzymes which help our bodies to digest and absorb important nutrients that are the key to good health.
To purchase fermented food starters check out this excellent source. If you don’t want to make your own cultured vegetables here is a great source to buy ready made cultured vegetables. Check out the most comprehensive fermented cookbook available that will teach you all about fermentation.
I will be posting some easy recipes for cultured foods so you can learn how to start including these wonderful healing foods into your diet.
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