Cultured and fermented foods have been around for a long time, initially as a means of preserving food, but it turns out there is a wonderful healing benefit to this process. Foods were put in a jar and stored in a cellar for a period of time where they fermented, or cultured. The good microbes grow and flourish in this fermented environment, eliminating the bad microbes. When you consume cultured foods your digestive system reaps the benefits of this beautiful, healthy ecosystem!
So what are all these wonderful benefits that cultured vegetables offer?
Rich in Probiotics
- Help re-establish a healthy inner digestive ecosystem. Food sources of probiotics give you billions more of viable microbes than most supplements and also are more likely to survive stomach acids and re-inoculate your gut more effectively as they bring their own ecosystem with them.
Excellent source of vitamin C
- Dutch Seaman used to carry them to prevent scurvy.
Ideal for pregnant and nursing women
- Helps to alleviate morning sickness during the early part of the pregnancy.
Rich in Enzymes to Increase Longevity
- You could think of the friendly bacteria in the raw cultured vegetables as little powerhouses. By eating the vegetables, you will maintain your own enzyme reserve and use it to detoxify, rejuvenate your cells, and strengthen your immune system, which all add up to a longer, healthier life.
According to the Body Ecology Diet , written by Donna Gates, cultured vegetables and their beneficial microflora demonstrate the potential to:
- Help combat and control cravings
- Increase energy levels
- Cleanse colon and aid in overcoming constipation
- Reverse acidic conditions by alkalinizing the body
- Fight off unfriendly microbes found in our food, water, and environment
- Correct hormone imbalances
- Stimulate metabolism
- Work against the development of fatty tissues
- Protect stomach and intestinal lining
- Normalize acidity of stomach
- Manufacture B vitamins
- Aid in assimilation of iron
- Supply digestive enzymes, thereby allowing the body's enzymes to be reserved for eliminating toxins, rejuvenating cells, and strengthening the immune system
- Benefit diabetics, as the microflora break down and digest the sugars in the vegetables
- Prevent and eliminate colic when eaten by nursing mothers or when the juice is given to babies in tiny spoonfuls
- Assist in the treatment of peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, colic, food allergies, cystitis, vaginal infections, and stomachaches
An amazing list of benefits, all from a jar of cabbage?
It is important to note, however, that old fashioned cultured vegetables are not the same as today’s sauerkraut you buy off the shelf. Most modern sauerkraut or pickles have been pasteurized, thereby killing off the beneficial flora. In order to reap all those wonderful benefits, you must be choosy in the products you purchase. Look in your neighborhood health food store in the refrigerator section for cultured vegetables or research online, as there are many small companies selling good cultured vegetables. Better yet, make your own! At first I thought it seemed like a lot of work so I avoided making my own, but actually it turns out, they’re pretty easy to make, just a little messy. And making your own is much cheaper!
Some of you may already love that sour sauerkraut taste, but I was not so keen on it. However, I found that the more I ate them, the better tasting they became as my body accepted them and knew how good they were for me. If you are hesitant about the taste, here are a few tips to help you incorporate cultured veggies into your diet while adjusting to this new taste sensation:
- make your first batches of cultured vegetables with fruit, this will sweeten up the kraut and hide some of the sourness
- add them to salads which will also blend the flavor and decrease the overwhelming flavor, I used a homemade creamy ranch dressing which covered the flavor a bit
- you will want to start slow to decrease any detoxing effect. Try a teaspoon or so for a few days then increase. I eat them like a condiment or small side dish, maybe 1/4 cup with my meals.
For specific recipes and directions on culturing your own vegetables, you can do a web search. As a start, here is my favorite website and recipe: