You have probably heard fermentation is the latest health craze. Most people relate to fermentation as vinegar, yogurt or sauerkraut, but many people do not fully understand there is a health benefit to the process of fermentation or how it works. The fermentation process is basically a variety of bacteria that feed of the sugars of food, building lactic acid and releasing beneficial probiotics, enzymes, omega fatty acids and a variety of vitamins.
How does fermented food improve your health? It may surprise you but your gut is responsible for the majority of your immune system. Your ability to maintain good health is very much dependant on the gut’s microflora that resides there and the food you eat to support it. Microflora is a complex combination of good and bad bacteria, yeast, fungi and other micro-organisms that all play a part in keeping the body working properly and fighting off disease.
As you can see, probiotics are very important to add to and support the gut which in turn improves your immune system. Just like eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is important to get all the different vitamins and minerals you need, eating a number of different fermented foods is important to get the variety of probiotics you need to keep your gut or immune sytstem working at it’s best. So rather than depending on your yogurt for all your probiotic needs, you may want to expand into a wider range of fermented foods. There are many varieties of pickeled items you can purchase and are readily available.
But why do they call fermented food the fountain of youth? Physical aging, especially in the skin, is easy to see. It’s caused by the body’s exposure to free radicals and toxins or lack of necessary elements. Continued support to your immune system allows the body to fight and regenerate. People with good immune systems physically age slower.
I watched a Japanese documentary that discussed fermentation and toured farms and facilities that supplied a number of our imported fermented foods including miso and pickled vegetables. At one point the interviewer asked a woman and her family how old they were. It was shocking to find people in their 60s looking like they were in their 30s. Their daughter who was in her 30s looked like a child and claimed the only time she went to the doctor was when she had her baby. Another woman whose job was to sprinkle the fermenting fungi onto soy to make miso had not a wrinkle on her face. It was all amazing. Keep in mind that these people ate the foods they produced on a daily basis and were exposed to the activators most of their lifes.
Rather than focus on this fountain of youth claim, know that watching what you eat and adding some fermented foods to your diet is great for your overall health.