A Guide to Fermented Foods

by Michele Menzel, ND

Humans all over the world have been fermenting food since ancient times. There is evidence that people were making fermented beverages in Babylon around 5000 B.C. Writings show that leavened bread in ancient Egypt dates back to 1500 B.C. and that milk fermentation was taking place in Babylon circa 3000 B.C. It is only very recently that fermented foods have begun to disappear from our plate.

There are many advantages of going back to the traditional ways of our ancestors by eating more fermented foods. They improve digestion and help restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut. Lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, allergies and asthma are all conditions that have been linked to lack of good bacteria in the gut. The microorganisms in our gut are 80 percent of our immune support system. Fermented foods are also rich in enzymes and vitamins. The body needs enzymes to properly digest, absorb and make full use of food. As we age, the body’s supply of enzymes decreases. Adding fermented foods to the diet will help guard against enzyme depletion, resulting in a longer, healthier life.

Four Simple Reasons to Incorporate Fermented Foods Into the Diet:

  • Eating fermented foods helps us absorb nutrients. When digestion is improved, absorption is also improved.
  • The process of fermenting foods is inexpensive.
  • Fermentation preserves the food, so it can last for longer periods of time.
  • Foods that have been fermented have an increase in flavor because the quality of the food is enhanced.

Fermented Dairy Products

  • (Buy raw milk and raw cheeses.)
  • Cultured milk, cheese, cultured cream cheese, yogurt, kefir, whey, cultured cream and cultured sour cream can be made into a Finnish culture piima (drinkable yogurt), and cultured buttermilk can be made into European-style sour cream crème fraiche.

Fermented Fruits and Vegetables

  • (Buy organic or use from the garden.)
  • Cabbage, carrots, onion, garlic, cucumbers, beets, turnip, daikon radish, red peppers, ginger, corn, tomatoes, cherries, mint, pineapple, papaya, raisins, lemons, oranges, apricots and berries.

Fermented Grains

  • (Buy sourdough, sprouted or naturally fermented breads instead of commercial yeast.)
  • There are three types of natural fermentation/germination processes that create probiotic/cultured grains and bread—soaking (flour, oats and whole grains), sourdough culture, and sprouting.

Fermented Beverages

  • (Kombucha and kefir)

God’s creation is perfect. When our animals are living according to their design, they produce the perfect match of protection for the human body through their products. Therefore, when we are eating according to our design, the body can function naturally better on all levels. We will have what we need to maintain balance, which means more vitality and a better quality of life.

Michele Menzel is a naturopathic doctor and owner of Energetic Wellness, which includes The Real Café and Real Market, where fermented foods and drinks, such as kombucha, are sold. Location: 2851 W. Edmond Rd., in Edmond. For more information, call 405-359-1245 or visit EnergeticWellnessOK.com.

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