Last Modified on Nov 17, 2014
While most food experts purport fresh food as the healthiest choice, research suggests that trend may be shifting at least slightly. While fresh food is among the healthiest, a new group of foods has been identified as equally beneficial – fermented foods. Fermentation is a process that allows foods to steep, converting natural sugars and carbs into bacteria-boosting agents with a variety of health benefits.
What are Fermented Foods?
Fermentation is considered one of the oldest forms of food preservation; however, this process does more than preserve food. During the process, food is exposed to bacteria and yeast that stimulate the growth of microorganisms. This exposure allows the beneficial microorganisms to overtake the harmful ones, resulting in a nutrient rich food.
The process often results in interesting flavors, textures and smells, but the benefits of these foods far outweigh these differences. Common fermented foods include sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, yogurt, misa, kimchi and others.
Common Fermented Foods
Almost any food can be fermented to render healthful benefits; however, some foods are used more often than others. Kombucha, sauerkraut and yogurt are among the most common and most healthful fermented foods. These foods render specific health benefits and should be incorporated into the daily diet.
Kombucha is a carbonated or fizzy, fermented black tea. This beverage offers a variety of healthful properties and is considered one of the most powerful fermented foods. As it contains between four and seven microorganisms in each bottle, kombucha helps build an especially strong gut and immune system.
More than just a New Year’s tradition, sauerkraut should be a part of the regular diet. In essence, the common topping is fermented cabbage that has a strong effect on overall health. Regular consumption of sauerkraut has been tied to increased brain health and diminished depression and anxiety, likely because a tremendous connection exists between the health of the brain and the gut.
Basically any form of yogurt is considered a fermented food; however, not all yogurt is created equal. Greek and regular yogurt are dairy forms, which makes them more acidic and harder to digest. Coconut yogurt is likely one of the best forms to consume regularly, but yogurt in any form delivers a powerful punch of enzymes and probiotics to the diet.
While few realize it, the gut is actually the center of the immune system. As such, consuming fermented foods directly improves health and readily treats a wide range of conditions.
[YEA] Hi, just wanted to comment on cabbage juice and gas. If you read Sally Fallon's book "Nourishing Traditions" you will see that she advocates fermenting cabbage juice for a couple of days before consumption. I tried this and while the smell was not pleasant, I had no gas at all. You will need to use whey in the process but it's easy to produce. I would urge you all to start eating fermented vegetables regularly for intestinal flora too - highly beneficial.
After many yrs of abuse, the use of an alcoholic beverage such as wine, beer or even liquors like brandy, rum, bourbon have seemed to be almost completely erased by conventional medicine and now our many other natural remedies. The Apostle Paul recommended "from now on drink a little wine for your frequent ailments". The Scottish Christian writer George MacDonald dramatized the medicinal use of wine as a daily beverage and the use of Scotch or Bourbon for emergency use as in shock or coma in his novels.
Perhaps Vinegar is the one step further not only in distillation, but also health benefits. Anyway this is a good topic starter.
Personal testimony. When I was not quite 16 yrs, my brother and I elected to help a farmer harvest hundreds of bales of hay. It was the middle of summer with temps soaring in proly low-to-mid 90's. We (plus several other lads) began probably around 4:00 PM and worked hard until just before dark and farmer grilled up a bunch of burgers and we woofed em down and went back to work much refreshed. We "hauled hay" until almost 11:PM enduring the extreme exhaustion of the intense labor. The ride home was like comatose; the loss of electrolytes, lactic acid build-up and extreme fatigue was to the point of barely able to stretch a leg or clasp the hand. But the group was young & daring and not ready to go home on a Friday night, so we headed to the border for some packaged Beer. (I cannot recall exactly, but this was at least one of the first, if not the first time I had drank a full can of beer. ) The thirst and exhaustion was such that I downed 2 cans of beer in about a short 20 minutes drive back home. When I got out of the car, BOOM! I was a new man. No longer sore or exhausted, I felt like I could haul a few hundred more bails of hay or hang out late in the night. It was a feeling as profound as the losing of sexual virginity.
Historically we know that alcohol has strong adaptogenic properties, but unfortunately, the medicinal use has all but disappeared in modern western world. Perhaps there are some good articles or books on this subject.
Any positive testimonies from Earth Clinic members???
Hi Gavin, my ginger beer is doing well! This time I left it fermenting for almost a week, like they advise on a recipe from the Reunion Island. Then they say one should filter it and let ferment for another two days. Is that correct? After that I will cool it but how much time can I keep it? Does it go off? A few days ago I opened it after shaking and oh boy, it almost exploded! I did it because nothing seemed to be happening inside of the bottle but yes..... A lot was going on!
Replied by Gavin
Manganui, Northland, New Zealand
Replied by Francisca
Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France
[WARNING!] I have really been enjoying the many benefits of making and drinking fermented drinks. Currently, I make a young coconut kefir and drink it daily. I have been doing this for about 5 months now. The one comment I do have to give though is that 2 days ago I made a batch but this time I added a bit of raw cane juice as a prebiotic. This was the second time I tried this- the first time was delicious! Well, on this second batch (in the bottle I always make it in) the cap absolutely exploded into bits in my hand. It was quite shocking! And my hand became numb and tingly. I don't want to deter anyone from making their own fermented drinks but heed this as a warning upon opening! What I have done is put a loose fitting cap on the bottle and that seems to have solved this.
Hi Bill, I was wondering what your thoughts are about consuming fermented foods when following candida diet? would the supplements that are recommended on your candida protocol also kill off the good bacteria? thanks for all your help on this awesome site.
Replied by Bill
San Fernando, Philppines
Yesterday, talking to a friend, she told me that her doctor had told her that it is beneficial to keep yogurts in the fridge for far longer than the date suggests as they will develop beneficial bacteria. Is that true?
I would like to suggest you add fermented foods to the remedies page.
EC: Thanks for the suggestion - post away!
I know I often mention probiotic- rich, fermented food and its benefits so I thought this would be an apt post. There was an article in Huffington Post from Donna Gates on how fermented foods can reduce heart disease. I will give the link:
It's an interesting read and hopefully, helps someone. Lisa
[YEA] I make a large container of kimchee and keep it on hand when I feel my intestinal and vaginal candida starting to act up. For me, it really helps nip an attack in the bud, and seems to raise my immunity generally. It even seems to ward of a cold or any kind of respiratory infection.
Here's my recipe: Buy a big head of nappa cabbage. Coarsely dice, and steam in the microwave with a small amount of water for five minutes only. It should still be crisp.
Place the semi-cooked nappa in a large bowl.
Add the following to taste and toss with the nappa: about 1/2 cup of Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce. This can be purchased at any well-stocked Oriental grocery. The kind I purchase has no sugar, although it does contain vinegar (but that doesn't seem to lessen the benefits in my case.)
Then dice and add 3 or 4 raw scallions.
Grate a large carrot and then, finely dice and add 2 large garlic cloves. Lastly, grate about 2 TBSP of RAW, FRESH ginger and add. Pour on about 1/2 cup water to make a "sauce" that will distribute all of these ingredients with the nappa when mixed together. The result should be a pungent, head-clearing "salad" that I eat in between meals a half-cup at a time, a few times a day when experiencing symptoms.
If you are familiar with kimchee, you know that it traditionally contains fermented fish sauce, so I leave this out, of course. My kimchee stays in my refrigerator at all times and will not spoil, so it can be kept on hand to have when needed. It's a good thing I enjoy eating it. It's great as a condiment on rice, but mixing it with other foods seems to lessen its punch for me. One more thing. It does cause garlic breath, so I brush and gargle with baking soda. It helps me so much with my candida and general immunity, that I'm not willing to give it up!
I tried this successfully and had to share. So much easier and cheaper making this at home to make your own Kombucha versus paying $20 upward for a SCOBY.
Hello everyone. I wanted to post a link to Dr. Mercola's website on "How Gut Bacteria can have Profound Implications on Your Health".
It's what Lisa, and so many others have tried to explain how important it is to our overall health. I really didn't get "how" important until I listened to the video tape that's with the article. She is a scientist and all I can say is "Wow".... what an eye-opener.
And, at years end, I want to say "Thank you" to everyone here who contributes to sharing their knowledge of health issues and especially to this website and staff who give all of us an opportunity to reach out to each other and make a difference.
Replied by Rob
Replied by Lisa
Thousand Oaks, Ca, Usa
Replied by Sue M.
Worden, Il, USA
Replied by Lisa
Thousand Oaks, Ca, Usa
Replied by Granny On The Go
http://www.gutsense.org/gutsense/flora.html Please go to this site to get info. I am attempting to reestablish my gut flora with cultered buttermilk enemas and by eating probiotic foods.
[YEA] I have read that many do not like the taste of fermented sauerkraut or kimchee. I have to tell you that FERMENTED SALSA IS GREAT!!! I assume that similar good bacteria is in the salsa, maybe just different vit and min. It is my understanding that when we ferment food, the vit and min are more easily absorbed by our body... this is good! And we get the benefit of good bacteria, like from yogurt but without the milk...
Here is my reicipe for fermented salsa (yum! ):
3 big O. Tomatoes (dipped in boiling water for 5 seconds, cut an "X" on the bottom and peel from there, cut in half and dig your fingers in to get the seeds out. Then finely chop.
1 large finely chopped white onion
1-10 cloves finely chopped of garlic (to taste)
1 cup finely chopped cilantro (great for heavy metal detox! )
1-4 jalapanos finely chopped (to taste)
Please note that a food processer makes this a fast job. Add juice from 3 lemons, 1 tablespoon of sea salt, and 1/4 cup whey ( you can get whey from straining plain yogurt through a coffee filter... what remains is a greek style yogurt and the liquid whey).
Mix this all together (not the yogurt) and put it in a quart size mason jar (keep the mixture about an inch from the rim of the jar) and seal with an air tight mason lid- the metal one, not plastic). Let it sit on the counter top for 2-3 days at room temp (colder needs the longer time), then refrigerate.
This is the basic recipe from Sally Fallon's NOURISHING TRADITIONS. Also check out her fermented lemon recipe- it is great on fish... Though my 7 year old son likes to eat it right out of the jar!
[YEA] I noticed that saurkraut had not been mentioned for relief of acid reflux. I know that lots of german delis serve this with their meals....The fermentation of the kraut is really good for the digestive system...really helpful to decrease acid reflux.
[YEA] I was reading over natural cures for Acid Reflux, or GERD, and noticed no one mentioned sauerkraut. I have been using this and it does work wonders. I used to get pains like aliens eating through my body from the GERD, and the sauerkraut has helped immensely. I don't like the taste of it, so I'm going to try a few things mentioned on this site. 2 tblsp sauerkraut 2x daily helps clear the nausea and pain for me.