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As some of you may know, I recently held a class on healing with fermented foods at RestorMedicine in San Diego. Teaching about cultured foods and beverages reminded me how beneficial these foods can be (and how easy they are to make). In light of this, I wanted to share some of the amazing benefits of fermented foods with you, and at the same time, bust some myths.
FANTASTIC FERMENTED FOODS
Recent research has revealed that we are more bacteria than we are human: bacterial cells outnumber human cells by a factor of 10 to 1. The vast array of bacteria that exists inside us and on us has come to be known as the microbiome. We are coming to understand scientifically that a balanced microbiome regulates the immune system, metabolism, sustains the GI tract, supports mood and brain function, produces important vitamins and nutrients, and helps us to maintain a healthy weight .
Fermented foods are cultured by a process known as lacto-fermentation: the process by which a bacteria converts carbohydrates into lactic acid and yeast coverts sugar into alcohol. Fermentation has been used for thousands of years as method of food preservation. It is a pleasant coincidence that fermentation also enhances the nutrient content of food through the action of bacteria which make the minerals in cultured foods more available and also produce vitamins and enzymes beneficial for digestion. Because the beneficial bacteria present predigests fermented foods, individuals who are lactose-intolerant may be able to consume yogurt and kefir, and making cabbage into sauerkraut or kimchi increases glucosinolate compounds believed to fight cancer.
Although fermented foods have become more commercially available, many fermented foods you buy in the supermarket have been pasteurized at high heat, killing any friendly bacteria. Fortunately, making your own fermented foods at home is easy and safe.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF FERMENTED FOODS
MYTHS ABOUT FERMENTED FOODS
For those interested in trying their hand with fermented foods at home, I will be sharing recipes for DIY fermented vegetables, kefir and kombucha in the coming weeks. Check back often for new ideas and feel free to share your questions, favorite recipes and ideas!
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Dr. Elizabeth Winter practices integrative and functional medicine in San Diego, CA and sees patients from a distance via Skype. For more information about her and her practice philosophy visit About Dr. Winter.