If you don’t already know about the magic of fermentation, I bet you’ve at least heard the word. The popularity of fermented foods has been on the rise lately. Foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir are all now widely available at almost any grocery store. I’ve even seen kombucha for sale at gas stations! People are discovering how good the ancient practice of fermentation can make them feel.
So, what is fermentation, exactly? A great article from Science Based Medicine tells us that, “Fermentation is a mostly anaerobic process, meaning without oxygen, carried out by microorganisms or cells. These microorganisms convert sugars, such as glucose, into other compounds, such as alcohol, to produce energy to fuel their metabolism. Bacteria and yeasts-which undergo lactic acid fermentation and ethanol fermentation, respectively-are used in the fermentation of foods. The unique flavours and textures of fermented foods are due to the different species of bacteria and yeast used.”
Fermentation can occur naturally, or you can help it along a little by using a starter culture…
Fermented foods have been proven to lower inflammation levels, reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue levels, have antioxidant properties, and can even help prevent weight gain. As early as 1995, studies were proving that eating fermented foods increased the amount of good bacteria living in our intestinal flora, which in turn, boosts our immune systems. A 2003 study shows how the good bacteria in fermented foods actually attacks and kills bad bacteria, like salmonella, e.coli, and Staphylococcu. We call these good, live bacteria probiotics.
It’s good eat a small amount of fermented foods every day to get all those great probiotic health benefits. When I regularly eat fermented foods my digestion is super on point and I feel happy, energized, and healthy. Because I’m not a big fan of eating a lot of sugar and I don’t take store bought probiotic supplements on a regular basis, I prefer to get my probiotics from fermented vegetables.
I’m not a fermentation expert, but I have made fermented veggies a few times. I’ll tell you how I make mine , but please know that there are tons of ways to ferment your own foods. If you want to increase the amount of fermented foods in your diet, do your research and decide how fermentation would fit best into your life and daily routine.
Fermented veggies are usually made one of two ways. You can use a salt water brine or a starter culture. Sandor Katz, the godfather of fermentation, prefers to make his fermented veggies with a salt brine (here’s how he does that). But since I prefer to keep my salt intake on the lower side, I like to make my fermented veggies using a starter culture.
A starter culture is powder that contains all those yummy good bacteria, or probiotics. I like to use Body Ecology Culture Starter and a prebiotic, EcoBloom. PREbiotics are kind of like food for the PRObiotics. They help create a friendly environment for the probiotics to flourish and grow.
Do any of you guys eat fermented veggies on a regular basis or have experience fermenting your own? I’d love it if you could share your opinion or personal experience on the matter. 🙂