Originally posted on https://www.donnieyance.com/have-you-had-your-fermented-foods-today/
Whether it’s sauerkraut from Eastern Europe, miso from Japan, or yogurt from Bulgaria, cultures worldwide have appreciated the unique benefits of fermented foods for thousands of years. Traditionally, people have used fermentation to preserve foods or to make them more digestible; in the process, they found that these foods also kept them healthy.
Naturally fermented, unpasteurized foods are rich in a variety of helpful bacteria called probiotics, and research shows that these beneficial microbes provide essential support for gastrointestinal, immunological, and overall health. There are many good reasons for including naturally fermented foods in your daily diet:
- The regular consumption of fermented foods helps to restore the proper balance of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. Many common health issues (including irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, allergies, asthma, and eczema) appear to be rooted in a lack of healthful intestinal flora.
- A healthy population of beneficial bacteria forms a living barrier that prevents harmful microbes from entering the blood and lymph through the intestinal walls. Although we may not think of our digestive tract as having much to do with immune function, almost 80 percent of our immune system is located in the intestinal tract, providing first-line defense against ingested toxins and pathogenic bacteria.
- Fermentation improves the digestibility of foods. For example, many people who are lactose-intolerant and can’t drink milk can eat yogurt, sour cream, kefir, or other fermented dairy products. This is because beneficial bacteria digest lactose during the fermentation process.
- The probiotics contained in fermented foods assist the body in its natural detoxification processes, including helping to extract and neutralize heavy metals and environmental toxins.
- Fermented foods help us to better absorb the nutrients that we consume. By improving digestion, you improve absorption.
- Eating fermented foods regularly is associated with a significant reduction in cancer. Miso, in particular, offers profound protection from radiation toxicity.
In recent history, fermented foods have all but disappeared from the modern American diet, much to the detriment of our digestive health and overall wellbeing. Many foods that were formerly excellent sources of probiotics (such as sauerkraut, pickles, olives, yogurt, sour cream, and cheese) are now subjected to pasteurization, which eradicates beneficial bacteria.
One of my favorite fermented foods is miso. It’s versatile and tasty and can be added to soups, stews, salad dressings, sauces, or made into a spread. We always have at least a couple of different varieties of miso—both dark and light—in the refrigerator. Dark (red) miso is saltier and considered more suitable for winter. A bowl of red miso soup garnished with scallions is the perfect remedy for helping to ward off fall and winter colds. Light (white) miso is sweeter and less salty, which makes it more appropriate for spring and summer.
Try these simple recipes that we enjoy at home: