By Amy Solis, Master Herbalist, C.N.C.
I believe that fermented and cultured foods are what are missing in our diet today. Fermented and cultured foods have been a part of every culture throughout history providing support for a positive, healthy lifestyle. They are beneficial because they provide us with needed nutrients, probiotic cultures, and enzymes essential for a healthy digestive track as well as a strong immune system.
Common digestive issues are why I believe we are missing fermented and cultured foods in our diets. These digestive problems include heartburn, ulcers, IBS, crones, autoimmune, diverticulitis, constipation, candida, leaky gut syndrome, flora destruction (from overuse of antibiotics), food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies.
All foods need enzymes and probiotics (good bacteria) to be digested, assimilated, and used by the body. When food doesn’t have what it needs for this process, it travels all the way to the intestines undigested, and rather than absorbing available nutrients, the intestinal tract instead tries to break down the undigested food matter, which causes sluggish digestion, irritation, eventual infections, and even possible leaky gut syndrome. The undigested food becomes a form of toxins that poison the blood stream, causing the body to react and release substances that aggravate the problem and therefore cause other symptoms to occur, such as allergies, bloating, extreme tiredness, fatigue, and skin issues to name just a few.
One example is gluten intolerance or allergy. When the grains are not soaked, the bread is not a proper, long-rise, with no enzymatic or lactic acid activity in the leavening, the lack of breakdown leaves the intestinal tract to be overworked and become damaged. I do not go along with the new belief that everybody is just all of a sudden allergic to dairy and are gluten intolerant, especially when these staples have sustained people for many thousands of years dating back to the Neolithic era. I believe it is the way these foods are being misused that causes the issue.
These foods are being improperly processed, prepared, and then over used, which is what is actually causing the current problems and allergies. What is needed is for us to learn how to prepare healthy, traditionally fermented and cultured foods in the home. Fermented and cultured foods include Sourdough Bread, Raw dairy, Aged Cheeses, Yogurt, Kefir, Cultured Vegetables, Sauerkraut, Salami, Beer, Wine, Pickles, Kim chi, Kombucha, Vinegar, Miso, and Tempeh. The health benefits of preparing and eating fermented and cultured foods include not only an improved digestion, but also restoration of the proper balance of bacteria in the gut, increased vitamin and mineral content available from the food, which in turn helps us to absorb the nutrients in a readily accessible and superior manner.
Fermented and cultured foods are tasty, easily digested, and contain living Lactobacillus and probiotic cultures. The process of fermenting and culturing also preserves fresh, seasonal foods, are often very inexpensive, delicious, and easy to prepare.
A glance into Amy’s sustainable lifestyle:
I live in the beautiful Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay area with my husband, Reev. We are living our dream of a quiet, healthy, and holistic lifestyle. I work from home supporting conscious and spiritual women to stay healthy naturally, to save time and money, as well as support sustainability while keeping healthy meals on the table. I raise dairy goats for milk, cheese, and yogurt; hens for eggs; tend the garden; and bake homemade sourdough bread. I keep our staple meals planned and prepared for home, family as well as teach others how to live, run, and maintain balanced, holistic meals and households.
Amy Solis, Master Herbalist, C.N.C., Certified Health Specialist teaches a Sustainable Homemaking 8-Week Correspondence Course – www.SustainableHomemaking.com