People have been fermenting their own foods throughout history, from the common sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) of Germany, soy sauce and tempeh (fermented soy beans) of China, to the pickles and yogurts (fermented dairy) of the middle east. One that is more common to many cultures around the world is kombucha (fermented sparkling tea) and of course the most popular, and potentially the oldest fermented item is wine, which dates back to at least 8000 years ago. With cultures across the globe incorporating these fermented foods into their diets for thousands of years it is no surprise that these foods contain an array of very important health benefits for us. Fermenting our own foods is a practice that has almost been completely lost in Western culture. Most westerners don’t even eat fermented foods and wouldn’t even consider making their own. Now, it is time to bring back and re-introduce the fermented foods, and continue to take back our health.
The problem with our diets today is that we sterilize, pasteurize and even radiate a good portion of the foods that we are eating on a regular basis. We are destroying all of the ‘good’ bacteria that are extremely beneficial to our health. Sure, this has been positive to some degree, especially considering the conditions in which a lot of our food is produced, but we are missing a very important element that can keep us a lot healthier. There are many benefits to adding fermented foods to your diet, some of these include: adding probiotic bacteria to our guts which restores the balance of intestinal flora, clearing up our skin, providing b vitamins (especially beneficial for people who follow a Vegan lifestyle) and by improving digestion which is accompanied by a healthy gut which means vitamins and minerals from all of the foods that you are eating will be better absorbed. A diet rich in fermented foods can also be extremely beneficial in keeping parasites at bay.
There are some simple ways that you can start including fermented foods in your diet. First of all, be aware of the products that you are purchasing, they do sell many ‘fermented’ foods at the grocery store, however many of these products are pasteurized and provide little to no benefits that traditional fermented foods will provide. The sauerkraut that is sold at the store is typically just cabbage that has been pickled with vinegar. At health food stores you may be able to find more of what you are looking for like these fermented soy products: tamari, miso paste, tempeh and other gems like coconut milk yogurt, raw sauerkraut, kombucha and even rich dark chocolate. If you are somewhat adventurous in the kitchen, like myself, you may even want to consider making your own fermented food products. There are many that are quite easy to make on your own and can save you a lot of money. This way you can be assured that you are using quality ingredients and you know exactly what is going into the food that you put into your body.
Some simple fermented items to make at home:
Sauerkraut. You only need three ingredients to make sauerkraut, cabbage, salt and water. Here’s an easy recipe.
Kombucha. Kombucha is a delicious sparkling fermented tea beverage that is made using a bacteria culture called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.) Learn more about the benefits of kombucha and how to brew your own here.
Coconut Yogurt. You could also do regular dairy yogurt, but I don’t drink milk and I think coconut milk yogurt tastes better anyways. Coconuts have a lot of health benefits as well. This is a super simple treat that anyone can make, you can eat it straight, or with granola, or throw it in smoothies. It is fantastic. Make your own, click here.
Considering people have been fermenting their own foods all around the world for thousands of years means that there must be something to it! Why not try adding some to your diet and seeing if it makes a difference for you! Good luck with the recipes, and please feel free to share some of your own fermented food recipes and tips in the comments section below!
Sources and further readings:
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