Visitor Count


counter for blogger

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fermented foods

Over a year ago, ever since I had an operation and had to spend a couple of weeks in hospital, I have had stomach and alimentary canal (gut) problems. I had stomach aches after eating, gas problems, general malaise and sometimes vomiting.  I lost about 20% of my body weight, I was down to skin and bones, and my doctor prescribed a laxative to at least keep my sluggish system working.  
Since it was my hospital stay that marked the beginning of my problems, I assumed that it probably was the antibiotics I had been given intravenously in hospital that had killed off some of the ‘good’ bacteria in my system. I started drinking a little kefir daily and I was mostly eating healthy, home cooked. vegetables that I could tolerate. 
Nothing seemed to help until one day while shopping at my favourite health food store, I overheard its owner talking to an older customer about how beneficial it was for elderly people to eat fermented foods.

Recorded history reveals that people began fermenting foods and drinks as long ago as 3000 BC to keep them from ‘going bad’ and the practice probably goes back much longer than that. Up until I started looking into fermented foods, I thought the process was only used  to make drinks like wine or beer but of course wild yeast is what is used to make sourdough bread.  What I have just learned is that when you use salt to preserve legumes – if you don’t overdo the salt – they too will ferment. 

That’s how vegetables were always 'pickled' before vinegar made it more convenient.  To give an example, the video on sauerkraut gives the idea [the caraway seeds are optional]. The amount of salt to keep the bad bacteria from growing is not crucial but should be between 1 to 2 tablespoons per pound.  All pickles including olives were once fermented this way.
Besides making the foods easier to digest fermenting foods introduces friendly bacteria [or probiotics] into your digestive system. What they do in food, they also do in the gut - they repel disease causing bacteria and help break down nutrients so you can absorb them more easily. I’ve been eating lost of fermented foods like non-processed aged cheeses, sauerdough bread, beer and wine, sauerkraut, yoghurt, kefir and etc.  And it's working! They have given me a whole new lease on life! I'm starting to eat normally and gaining weight!          
If its hard to get fermented foods or you don’t particularly like them – the best supplement is lactobacillus sporogenes - it's  a probiotic you can take as a pill and most people tolerate it well.  Next week I’ll tackle the big subject of the 4 or 5 pounds of friendly bacteria in our gut whose function and power are increasingly amazing scientists who study them.  Rie

1 comment: