Anita's Healthy Tips
If you live in the Washington metro area then you are all too familiar with the recent heat explosion we have had, no to mention the power outages due to last week’s storm. We were without power for 5 days at my house and so naturally we lost all the contents of our refrigerator and freezer.
Fermented Foods Are an Old Tradition
It got me to thinking that prior to the advent of refrigeration people routinely preserved their fruits and vegetables not just so that they could eat them out of season, but because they understood that fermented foods also made them healthy. Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations knew this, Europeans understand it and Asian cultures continue to ferment foods. Here in the U.S., sauerkraut is probably the most popular fermented food but most commercial preparations have been pasteurized and therefore all the beneficial bacteria have been killed off! Some have said that the relishes we use, like pickle and cucumber relish were probably originally fermented. This lost art is surely making a come back with many articles and books written on the subject like the most recent Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin.
Good Bacteria is Good for the Gut
This preserving of foods is done through lacto-fermentation which provides us with many, many health benefits. The process of fermenting goes something like this: Whey is used to supply the lactobacilli ( friendly bacteria ) that feed on the sugars and starches in the cut up fruits and vegetables which makes lactic acid which preserves the food. Phew!! Stay with me here..... the lactobacilli count grows as it feeds on the vegetables and as a by-product the vegetables become much easier to digest. The amazing thing is that they increase vitamin B levels and promote the growth of healthy gut flora! So we get better digestion, better immune function, and as the good bacteria flourish in the intestine, the bad bacteria gets crowded out and we have a happy GI tract.
Fermented foods include yogurt, kefir ( try coconut milk or goat’s milk if you are sensitive to cow’s milk), sauerkraut ( unpasteurized or raw ), kimchi, miso, tempeh, tofu, and others. A little bit goes a long way but the key is to consistently consume these products for maximum intestinal support.
Probiotic supplements that contain several different strains of bacteria, including the lactobacillus and bifido strains are essential to use if you aren’t consuming fermented foods on a regular basis. As we all know, you cannot enjoy good overall health and immunity if you don’t pay attention to your intestinal health!
Anita Capizzi, RN, CHC, is a Certified Health Coach at National Integrated Health Associates and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Her philosphy is to meet people where they are and upgrade their level of holistic nutrition and wellness, one step at a time.