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.
Benefits of Fermented Vegetables
Rich in Probiotics
Cultured vegetables 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 cultured vegetables to prevent scurvy, a Vitamin C deficiency.
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
- Benefit diabetics, as the microflora break down and digest the sugars in the vegetables
- Prevent or lessen colic when eaten by nursing mothers
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, check out local farmer's markets or make your own! Making your own fermented vegetables is much cheaper, and is not complicated.
For some, this sour taste may be strange at first, but keep in mind that these vegetables are good for your body. 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, as this will sweeten up the cabbage
- Add them to salads, which will blend the flavor
- Start slowly with a teaspoon or so for a few days then increase