Increased intakes of fermented foods are associated with significantly reduced risks of skin conditions, digestive problems and even autoimmune disease. Diets which have a high content of food enzymes and beneficial bacteria from lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages are highly correlated with better physical and emotional health.
“All Disease Begins In The Gut.” Hippocrates made this statement over two thousand years ago and it is truer today than ever.
Sour milk products and lactic acid-fermented foods have been dietary staples for thousands of years. Early writings show that Chinese workers ate acid-fermented vegetables while building the Great Wall of China. The Japanese have routinely served a small serving of pickled vegetable with their meals. Centuries ago, the Koreans developed kimchi by acid-fermenting cabbage and other vegetables.
The amount of probiotics and enzymes available in the average diet has declined sharply over the last few decades as pasteurized milk has replaced raw, pasteurized yogurt has replaced homemade, vinegar based pickles and sauerkraut have replaced traditional lacto-fermented versions. But if you are serious about boosting your immunity, then adding traditionally fermented foods is essential.
Friendly bacteria have a powerful, beneficial effect on your gut’s immune system, your first line defense against pathogens, and aid in the production of antibodies. Your gut bacteria can reveal whether you suffer from many different diseases such as diabetes and many others.
Probiotics help people restore advantageous gut microflora in order to improve many aspects of their health. With balanced gut flora, the body’s immune system dramatically improves and is better able to produce necessary nutrients, in addition to other beneficial substances.
Probiotic strains enhance adhesion, mainly in large intestinal mucus. Treatment of intestinal mucus with probiotics significantly reduces the adhesion of pathogens. The ability to inhibit pathogen adhesion appears to depend on the specific probiotics and which pathogens are on the mucosal sites.
The potential health benefits of fermented foods like doenjang, chungkookjang, kimchi, kombucha, miso, tempeh, pickles, fermented seafood, makgeolli, and beer may be linked directly to the ingestion of live microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, or indirectly to biogenic metabolites produced during the fermentation process.
One of the most healthful fermented foods is kefir. Kefir is an ancient cultured, enzyme-rich food full of friendly microorganisms that balance your “inner ecosystem” and strengthen immunity. Kefir grains are a combination of bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins and lipids. For this reason, a complex and highly variable community of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts can be found in these grains.
High intakes of fermented foods are associated with a 44% lower prevalence of eczema in the adults.
Bioactive peptides (biogenic peptides released from food proteins by microbial proteolysis during fermentation) have been known to have immunostimulating effects, such as increasing IgA-producing cells and macrophage activity, leading to the prevention of infectious diseases.
Eating fermented foods has several benefits, including:
- They help remove toxins from the body.
- They promote clear skin.
- They significantly strengthen the immune system.
- They improve digestion.
- They help the body absorb and use nutrients.
- They help the body produce acetylcholine.
- They prevent disease and fight current inflammation.
- They destroy and inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
- They increase energy.
- They balance hormones.
Fermenting food and beverages is a practice that can turn ordinary food into nutrient dense superfoods. You can ferment anything from cabbage, carrots, and beets, to coconut milk, water, and tea! Go ahead and turn that ordinary cabbage sitting in the fridge into sauerkraut that is filled with life. If you are looking to fight disease, restore your health, lose weight, clear skin troubles, balance hormones or have more energy, fermented foods are for you.
John Summerlyis nutritionist, herbologist, and homeopathic practitioner. He is a leader in the natural health community and consults athletes, executives and most of all parents of children on the benefits of complementary therapies for health and prevention.