Our predecessors fermented food for preservation by harnessing the powers of nature before the days of fridges and freezers and they inadvertently added many health benefits, particularly for the immune system and the digestive system.
Lactobacilli bacteria are prevalent on the surface of living foods and especially on leaves of plants near the ground and roots of plants. These delightful `bugs’ will proliferate if provided with the right conditions in the fermentation process and produce lactic acid which preserves the food.
Traditionally fermented foods such as:
- Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage
- Kimchi – Korean style of sauerkraut
- Kefir, live yoghurt, traditionally soured cream
- Beet kvaas – Russian fermented beet drink
- Kombusha- fermented tea
and the list could go on ………….
Why should the `bugs’ be kept alive?
- These beneficial `bugs’ stimulate the immune system via the lymphoid tissue in the gut (where at least 75% of the immune system tissue is concentrated) and this encourages the production of antibodies and cells that regulate the immune system’s response.
- They competitively exclude and suppress the proliferation of harmful bacteria by reducing the pH, making it less suitable for harmful bacteria to survive – most harmful bacteria prefer a higher pH.
- The lactic acid and the bacteria assist in the breakdown of foods, including the fermented food itself, thereby aiding digestion and absorption of nutrients.
- During fermentation B vitamins and vitamin K are accumulated.
- And last but not least in my opinion the flavour of many foods is enhanced.
So who wouldn’t want to enjoy the help of the `bugs’ we have lived with for centuries!