Fermented Foods

Fermentation is the process of converting plant foods to a simpler substance by using bacteria, yeast, enzyme or mold.  Fermenting to alcohol such as wine, beer and cider is the conversion of sugar to alcohol by yeasts. Fermentation creates lactic acid for preserving foods.  Fermentation is also used to leaven bread with yeast by degrading enzymes called phytic acid.  Phytic acid is the storage form of phosphorus bound to inositol.  Phytic acid in raw foods can bind a portion of the iron, zinc, and calcium in foods, making the minerals unavailable for absorption.

There is evidence of fermentation for over five thousand years.  Experimentation began over a thousand years ago with using beneficial strains to prevent spoilage, fight infections, and increase absorption of nutrients when fermenting foods.  

Many countries have a tradition of eating fermented foods with bacteria.  Benficial bacteria can also be found in fermented food such as yogurt, sauerkraut, 

kefir, buttermilk, cheese, miso and tempeh. However, most fermented foods are made with Streptococcus Thermophilus or Lactobillus Bulgaricus. While 

these are friendly, beneficial microorganisms, they do not perform long-term colonization of the gut; therefore, they are not as effective as probiotic 

supplements at re-establishing populations of friendly bacteria. 

Probiotic cultures are micro-organisms that naturally live in the digestive tract.  The presence of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract creates a healthier environment by making it less habitable for bad bacteria.  Antibiotics, poor nutrition, stress, and aging can reduce the amount of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, so they need regular replenishing.  Regular consumption of fermented foods with live active cultures may help to maintain a healthy culture balance.

For those with Candida, fermented foods should be used with caution.  Fermented food contain yeasts and molds that are unlikely to cause candida, but the body might be sensitive to them.  For those who must watch their salt intake, fermented food such as capers, olives and umeboshi plums can be very high in salt.  For those who are not tolerant of histamines, avoid cheese and wine. Avoid spoiled fermented foods overtaken by mold.

Fermented Food List

Yogurt is milk that has been fermented by live cultures in order to enhance its nutritional value and digestibility. 

Kefir is a fermented milk product originating in the Caucausus.  The Caucasians blended around thirty strains of bacteria and yeast capable 

of digesting almost any food source and eliminating harmful pathogens.   True kefir drink has a slightly alcoholic content due to the 

presence of yeast. 

Aged cheese is traditionally fermented cheese made from cow, sheep or goat milk. 

Buttermilk is milk left from making butter and cultured.

Sour cream or crème fraiche is cream with a bacterial culture.

Fermented soy products include traditionally fermented miso, tempeh, and brewed soy sauce.  Fermented soy products raises the levels of 

isoflavones, the beneficial plant estrogens.

Commercial Fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut (pickled cabbage), pickles, olives and capers have been pasteurized and do not 

contain live cultures.  The pasteurization process not only kills the beneficial bacteria, but may also destroy many of the enzymes and 

nutrients. Commercial fermented vegetables may also contain a fair amount of unnatural preservatives.  Only home made marinated and 

fermented vegetables contain beneficial bacteria.

Sprouted foods including beans, grains and seeds cause the outer hull to be broken down and fermented enabling the sprouting process.  

Sprouted foods have a more easily absorbed nutrient content and are more digestible.

Umeboshi plums are eaten in Japan after a meal to aid digestion They are pickled and fermented for six months and contain probiotics 

with powerful antibiotic properties.

Thai fish sauce usually made from anchovies ferments until it has a slightly nutty flavor.

Tofu has been fermented for over three months in rice wine and malted rice.  It is also known to significantly lower blood pressure and cholesterol.  

Kathy Kafka

Complete Natural Blends


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