Out of all the facets of health, what we eat may be the least understood, and the most variable. Most western medicine is focused on treating illness. It’s the absence of disease. But health is much, much more than that. In recent years there’s been a shift in philosophy. Medical and health authorities have been more open and receptive to the benefits of natural and fermented foods. They’re good for you! They have been for centuries! Here are some of the benefits of your favorite ferments.
Fresh Veggies, Reimagined
Because fermented foods are generally stored and prepared at room temperature, they maintain all the nutrients and vitamins of the original set of vegetables. That means all the B12 and folate from your favorite green-leafy veggies stay intact. When you cook vegetables, a lot of the original nutrient content you see on a package gets burned off or left on a pan. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it robs you of the potential of these powerful plants. If you look at Gutsy Ferments, the process of fermenting food is steeped in tradition and technique. It may not be particularly difficult, per se, but the timing and the initial prep is what separates the bad from the good. With the good, you know you’ve got all the vitamins and minerals intact.
Gut Microbiome Health
The human body is a complex system that has millions of different, independent processes that, through happenstance, keep you thriving and healthy. This is especially true of your normal flora. Normal flora are independent colonies that are not recognized as “you” but coexist with you–in and on your body. Most of the time it’s commensal. Sometimes they can get a bit wild. When you take in fermented foods, the natural bacteria in said foods interact and contribute to the colonization of healthy bacteria. This is done through a form of competitive inhibition or straight-up addition. The human gut biome is extremely diverse. Fermented foods help keep the scales of balance in that inner jungle of tiny creatures.
Since we mentioned the gut biome, we have to mention vitamin K. Did you know that vitamin K comes in two forms? The first form, K-1, is the primary component used for making and activating coagulation pathway proteins. The other, K-2, has a natural chelation effect on calcium, preventing it from collecting in places you don’t want it to–like heart valves. K-2 is made primarily in (drum roll) the gut by your normal flora. With the addition of fermented foods, this ability and production are increased. Now, like with many things, there is a physiologic cap on the production of any endogenous substance. That’s done through feedback loops. But today’s western diet is devoid of good stuff that the addition of even high amounts of fermented foods can only help.
Fermented foods are a perfect addition to any meal. They’re easy to store, don’t need any prep, and can be thrown onto anything. They have health benefits beyond what one could imagine. Most importantly, they’re natural, simple, and affordable bites that are perfect for anyone at any age. Enjoy.