If You Are Eating Fermented Foods For Only This Reason, Stop!

People jump on the bandwagon of eating fermented foods after they hear about how probiotic rich the foods can be. We are told today by many in the health field how probiotics can improve our health and keep colds, the flu, and even sickness at bay. Wow that is exciting right! But has it become a video game methodology, kill the most bad guys and you win. Sometimes we don’t see the forest because of the trees.

What am I trying to say?

The Human body is basically like a machine! Put fuel in and it runs. In our case the fuel is food. So if we are a food burning machine it makes sense to use the highest quality food, Right! Am I saying fermented foods rich in probiotics don’t matter, no not at all. Probiotic rich foods are great for the body, but the food making up the fermented item is more important. Probiotics don’t fuel the body!

Lacto-fermenting eCourse

Our ancestors did not eat fermented foods or any other foods because they were rich in health gaining probiotics. Heck, they did not even understand basic human biology. What they did know, was that if they ate certain foods they had the energy to accomplish the day’s tasks and that often was a matter of survival. Actually our ancestors had a better understanding of food than many today, they knew quality mattered, not quantity.

Since fermented foods were commonly eaten and important to these ancestors, these food types must have been a great source of power packed energy. Why else would they have eaten them daily? Now are you starting to ask, “What is up with fermented foods beyond the probiotics?”

Fermented Foods Are Baby Food!

Fermented foods are rich in the raw materials we need to function daily. First and foremost is that fermented foods are actually pre-digested to a certain level. I know, when you think of pre-digested foods you think of baby food and we are not saying fermented foods are baby food or are we? In a way they are! Baby food is puréed food so the baby without teeth and a fully developed digestive tack can get the most nutrition possible during the most rapid development period of their life. The cell walls of fermented foods are softened during the fermentation process and cabbage that is almost inedible when raw is transformed into a delightful sauerkraut after fermenting.

Here is something we share in all our classes on fermented foods. – Each day we have a certain amount of energy for use by our body, to think, work, play, and heal, this amount of energy differs from person to person. One of the most important uses of this energy supply is digestion, and while this only accounts for about 10% of the body’s daily energy expenditure it is the most important 10% of operations happening everyday. Just consider this function breaks down, processes, and absorbs all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to survive daily. Ok so we have that basic understood. Is your body using excessive energy trying to pick through the poor quality food it is given for that needed nutrient or is it picking from high quality food stuffs abundantly supplying all the needed nutrients? So this 10% operation supplies 100% of our nutrients needed for LIFE!

The voice of Grandma rings loud, “You are what you eat child, so stop complaining and eat that good food.”

So what was that I mentioned earlier about fermented foods? That they are predigested so the body does not have to work hard to get the nutrients and that fermented foods are high in quality since you are picking choice items to ferment in the first place. Can you say, JACKPOT!!! And do you want a bonus round? These foods are high in digestive enzymes making them even easier to digest, sounds like pre-digested foods are what we need. There have been many cultures studied to find out what gave them vitality and longevity, they all have one aspect in common, fermented foods.

If you have never made fermented foods your next question may be, “How hard is it to make fermented foods?” My answer, “Not hard at all!” Fermented foods have been being made for centuries in just a simple jar type vessel, so it is cheap. Today we do have some improvements in the equipment, but at the heart is still a simple jar. And since this process has been around for centuries it is tried, tested and proven.

USDA research service microbiologist Fred Breidt says -

“properly fermented vegetables are actually safer than raw vegetables, which might have been exposed to pathogens like E. coli on the farm…With fermented products there is no safety concern. I can flat-out say that. The reason is the lactic acid bacteria that carry out the fermentation are the world’s best killers of other bacterica,” – San Francisco Gate, June 2009.

Where would you start if you are interested in fermenting vegetables? Let me suggest you start with the methods, so you can understand how the process works. We have many articles on Cooking God’s Way that cover fermenting along with links to other websites expounding on the operation. If you are local you can even sign up for one of our classes and join the ranks of the many hundreds that have learned how to ferment the easy-way. If you are not local or want to learn at your own pace we offer a total lacto-fermenting kit to get you started.

Whichever method you choose is up to you. But do take the time to read about how easy fermenting your own food can be to help improve your health and if you have a question or comment leave it below or write us.

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Disclaimer: The information in this post is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.


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About Jeff

Jeff Pearce is a board certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant and has coached hundreds of people in the Dallas/Fort Worth to help them achieve their health goals. If you would like more information about his services view the Health Consultations section. For those not in the physical area Distance Coaching is an option. A 15 minute "No Cost" informational consult is available, by phone, to chat and answer questions about services. To schedule your no cost informational consultation please contact us .

Comments

  1. Humans have evolved to crave the sour taste of fermented foods through the evolution of the sour taste sense on their tongue. With the exception of citrus, all sour taste derives from fermented foods. Modern food product companies have exploited this craving by adding sour-tasting chemicals in food products such as vinegar and citric acid.

    • Actually it is not evolution as it can be changed one way or the other in a matter of a few weeks. If someone eats lots of sweets they will adjust their taste to want sweet. If they then remove sugar from the diet for a period of time their tastes will adjust back to more of a neutral level. And if you eat more bitters then you will become more sensitive to sweets. I see this all the time when consulting people. You are right about food companies exploiting this trait in people.

  2. Jim Rogers says:

    I found a jar of artichoke hearts in the back of the fridge. They have that “tang” and lack of firmness that says to me they are at some stage of being fermented. At what point are they “too far gone and crossed-over from being perhaps a bit better for you and into the Mareah of dangerous-to-eat? There’s no evidence of mold. I wipe mold off cheese and have never had a problem. Please advise.

  3. “the human body is basically a machine”, this is a very common thinking mistake and leads to all kinds of troubles. but your veins are not like a garden hose, your joints are nothing like mechanical hinges, and food is nothing like petrol.

    • Newton, thanks for helping to show my point.:) In saying the body is not like a machine you use machine parts to describe what the body is not. When I said the body is like a machine, it is, in that a machine needs fuel and we need fuel. So yes at a very basic level (notice the word basic) we are like a machine. Yes, I agree we are not machines and can’t have mechanical parts put in or replaced. We need to give our body great foods so that it can gain the energy it needs to function and heal. Thanks for your comment –Jeff

  4. Myrna De Jesus says:

    Thank you, Jeff, for this very well written, informative article. I am made curious now about the appropriate time to eat fermented foods? Should it be at a certain time of the day? On an empty stomach? After your meal?

    Thanks much!

    • Myrna, Thanks for your comments. Great question! My answer would be eat them all the time and anytime. Yogurt and Kefir are fermented foods that are great for breakfast. Lunch can be a fresh salad with fermented foods on top, salsa, peppers, onions, carrots, etc. Or a sandwich with some fermented foods on it. A yogurt smoothie at lunch is great too. Dinner can have lots of fermented foods. Most all condiments can be lacto-fermented, as can pickles, hummus, BBQ sauce, peppers, onions, asparagus, green beans, and even garlic can be lacto-fermented. Another neat think about fermented foods is the hydrophobic affect they have on cooked foods, which is that they help attract and supply the digestive enzymes needed for digestion, resulting in better digestion of cooked foods. I hope you see now that there is never a wrong time to eat fermented foods!!!! :) Do put fermented foods in your diet, in my book they are more important than raw foods.

  5. Hi mate very good article and massive respect to anyone who tries to help people to eat and therefore live much better lives… but in a sense probiotics DO fuel the body, a certain type (I could check its on wikipedia if anyone wants to) helps to create energy by breaking down fibre which we would otherwise be unable to utilise.. much love

  6. I am just going to start fermenting. Do I have a spoonful every day. How long should it be fermented for. Some say months. Others weeks. I don’t want to get it wrong.
    Thank you for your site.

    • Val, I understand it can be confusing about how much to eat of fermented foods balanced with so many different opinions on how long the foods should ferment. Just as I mentioned in the article why are you eating the fermented foods? Food is nutrition (proteins, carbs, fats, minerals, vitamins, etc.) and in fermented foods additional great bacteria that helps our digestive track. To focus on anyone thing in food is unbalanced. Some people feel it is very important to ferment for maximum bacterial count. Let me ask you this, “How many people do you think are going to ferment a food if it takes 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 weeks?” Most people would never spend the time to do this. What about fermenting a food for a much shorter time, (few days to 10 or so), still getting great amounts of bacteria, and awesome healthy foods. Now many more people will do that!! Pick something realistic for you to start with.

  7. I’m not convinced that fermented foods are healthy. I believe fresh is best.

  8. Is is possible to consume too many fermented foods? I have been eating/drinking either miso soup or kombucha daily in addition to the probiotics I ingest through Greek yogurt. When I discuss my eating habits with people they often criticize me for this. Can fermented foods have an adverse effect?
    Thanks!!!

    • Jessica, You are asking can a person eat to many fermented foods? Good question. At the heart of this question is, “What would be in fermented foods that could be harmful?” I look at it this way. Fermented foods are foods that have been fermented, which enriches the enzymes, nutrition and vitamins in the food. Fermented foods are so to speak super charged, highly nutritious, highly digestible foods. Is it unhealthy to eat too many healthy foods? I think the big picture here would be balance. Eating the same few foods again and again, even fermented foods could lead to vitamin, mineral, and nutrition deficiencies over time. We are creatures of habit and it is easy to fall into a menu that has a limited amount of foods eaten again and again. We try to vary our diet and add many different fermented foods and drinks in a rotation. Kombucha is good, but don’t forget yogurt and milk kefir. How about some fermented vegetables, how about some raw vegetables. Keep switching things up and your pallet will stay excited and interested in what you are eating and drinking.

  9. Actually, probiotics DO fuel the body, in fact they are the primary source of fuel. Without probiotics we do not have proper mitochondria in the cells, and the mitochondria make ATP, the body’s energy. Lack of probiotics is almost a universal problem at this time, after too many years of too many antibiotics and too much sterilization of our soil, amongst other things. And we have a very sick society, overall. Although insufficient number and range of probiotics is not the only reason, it makes us highly vulnerable to other factors. And the body is not a machine. That is a very outmoded and incomplete view of an organism, which has led to many improper treatments. Did you know that most of human DNA is bacteria?

    • Joly,

      Thank you for your comment and helping to prove my point. People think that probiotics are fuel and they are not. Probiotics do not fuel the body. Probiotics are beneficial live microorganisms that reside in your digestive track, are found on some food sources, they aid in assimilation and use of food. If they were food sources we could live off probiotic pills, which we can not. But we can live for a period of time with out eating probiotic rich foods, which as you point out is a current issue today. I understand what you were trying to say, that they are very important in their role in the body. Yes, they are very important, but people tend to focus too much on probiotics and in doing so miss the quality concerns of the food, which is what the article’s point is. The current model used to manage health in this country is one of micro-management, (trying to control every aspect of the body). When a macro-management view is taken, (viewing the body as a whole and supplying its basic needs in the best quality possible) the body will heal itself of most issues. Too often the healthy living group tries to imitate the detail focused medical model (micro-managment), by being overly concerned with vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, etc. Humans have been on the earth for many thousands of years in a thriving manner and they ate food as a nutrient source of fuel for the body without paying attention to vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, etc. Sometimes we miss the forest for the trees.

  10. Great post. Fermented foods are a wonderful compliment to any meal. The good news is, it’s easy and affordable. When we’re worrying about our foods not having enough nutrients, we can rest assured that when we ferment, we’re making more nutrients available to our bodies that wouldn’t otherwise be available if we didn’t ferment them first.

    Keep up the good work!

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