At first glance, the idea of fermenting your own vegetables at home may seem like something that should be relegated to homesteaders and other back-to-nature types. The truth is that fermenting vegetables is a traditional way of preserving food which is being rediscovered -- primarily for its health benefits but also as a way to save money.
Health Benefits of Fermented Vegetables
Does the fermentation process make vegetables more nutritious? Learn the truth about fermented vegetables.
Our modern diet is full of over processed, high calorie, low nutrition types of food. As a result, gastrointestinal problems are at record numbers.
Chronic symptoms of diarrhea and constipation are so commonplace that they have been given names such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s disease. Our ancestors did not suffer with these problems as we do today largely because of the foods they ate.
Fermenting Vegetables With Sandor Katz
Brain Gut Connection
One diet trend gaining popularity is to eat the way our ancestors ate—our Paleolithic ancestors. Several diets such as the Primal Diet, Weston A. Price Foundation Diet, and the Paleo diet focus on eliminating processed foods in favor of traditional foods like fermented vegetables and dairy, nuts and seeds, and meat from animals caught in the wild or pasture-raised.
There is a growing belief that many modern-day illnesses like fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Chronic Pain Syndrome are related to diet. There is so much evidence that a new field of study has been born. Neurogastroenterology studies the interaction between the central nervous system (brain) and the gut.
Discoveries in the field of brain-gut health show your gut has a strong influence on your brain. Did you know that the neurotransmitter serotonin is produced in the gut? Too little serotonin can cause depression. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what to eat so you could produce enough neurotransmitters to control your moods? As research in this field progresses, we’ll eventually know.
Yet another discovery is that bacteria in the gut communicate with the brain! Bacteria are very important to digestion. Without them, we cannot absorb nutrients, and food just passes through. People experiencing digestive problems often compensate by taking probiotics—gut bacteria.
Which of these fermented foods have you tried?
Gut Flora and Ferments
A good way to get healthy gut flora is to eat fermented foods like yogurt, tofu, and sauerkraut which are full of beneficial gut bacteria and enzymes your digestive tract needs to be healthy.
Making fermented vegetables is easy and actually preferable to buying them. Homemade means you control the quality and amount of salt. Some store-bought ferments have been shown not to be fermented at all, but just bottled in brine.
The truth is that fermented vegetables have no more nutrition than that of their raw counterparts. However, the bacteria and enzymes that form during the fermentation process make them a better choice by comparison.
People often get interested in fermenting vegetables and talk themselves out of it for fear of food poisoning. There’s no need to worry about it. The acidic environment of fermented food prevents those particular organisms from growing, so have at it. Feel free to stock up on cabbage and grate veggies to your heart’s content. Your gut will thank you for it.