Fermented foods, like pickles, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, and sauerkraut, can add high-impact flavor to our meals. Including these and other delicious fermented delicacies in your diet also has a wealth of health benefits. Let’s look at how this works and investigate how we can reap the rewards of fermentation.
Fermentation for natural preservation has been used for thousands of years and has a long history of providing a healthy alternative to conventionally processed foods that use chemical additives or preservatives in order to remain stable in the warehouse or on grocery store shelves. Natural preservation through fermentation happens when yeasts or bacteria convert carbohydrates, like the sugars present in fruits and vegetables, into alcohol or acids. This makes foods like pickled veggies naturally stable on shelves, while avoiding the use of unwanted chemicals or other preservatives.
The Cleveland Clinic reports that the bacteria from fermentation can improve gut health in several ways. For one thing, eating fermented foods can help support the good bacteria in our gut, which is important for several reasons. These good bacteria aid in breaking down foods while producing byproducts that are beneficial to our health. They also make essential vitamins, including some of the B vitamins and Vitamin K.
Having a nice balance of good bacteria in the gut also helps fight off pathogenic bacteria (the bacteria that can cause diseases). By creating an acidic environment and helping to ward off disease-causing invaders, these friendly bacteria can actually prevent pathogens from surviving, which is great news for your health! In fact, the potential health benefits of fermented foods could include a reduced risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and digestive disorders.
If you’re tired of throwing out rotted produce that you can’t seem to eat fast enough, opt for fermented foods that not only last longer, but can improve your health through their unique microbial properties.
Here is a family recipe from one of our eSavvyHealth members that you can try.
- 1 small organic red or green cabbage
- 2 cloves peeled and sliced garlic
- 1 tsp fresh dill
- Sea salt
Create your salt brine using 1 Tbsp salt per cup of warm water and let cool. Remove the outer leaf of the cabbage head and set it aside. Cut cabbage into ¼ inch slices. Jam as much cabbage as you can into a clean mason jar, leaving a bit of room at the top. Add your salt brine to just cover the top of your cabbage. Add the garlic and dill. Add the reserved cabbage leaf, placing it on top to create a “cap.” Press down so everything is submerged. Leave about a 1/2 inch of space at the top. Close the lid and let it do its thing for about 2-3 weeks.