Fermentation Myths and Truths

 

…DID YOU KNOW: a total of one trillion bacteria live together in our digestive system. Their total weight is about four pounds!

The bacteria and other microbes that live in our gut are essential to our wellbeing. They help with digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients and play a large part in supporting the immune system. However, there are ‘bad’ bacteria that also take up residence in our gut and the goal is to achieve the right balance between the two. When the balance is off, and there are more unfriendly microbes than good, symptoms such as bloating, constipation or diarrhoea may occur.

“Research shows that the more diverse our diet in plant-based foods, the more diverse our gut microbiome is, making it more resilient to disruptions”. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212877816000387?via%3Dihub
Historically fermentation was used as a way of preserving foods and drinks long before the days of refrigeration however it also supplied the gut with healthy microbes.   During the process of fermentation, microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast, or fungi convert sugars and starch into alcohol or acids.  When starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted to lactic acid this can act as a preservative in food and also enhance beneficial bacteria known as probiotics in food. 

Truth

When you naturally ferment sauerkraut which is also referred to as “wild” sauerkraut, it is actually made from the wild bacteria, yeasts, and fungi in the air, on your hands, and on the vegetables. Naturally Wild fermented sauerkraut has been preserved by lactic acid, a bacteria created during the fermentation process. It is full of enzymes and beneficial bacteria that your gut will love and need.

Myth

Vegetables and fruits pickled in Vinegar provide the same natural-occurring enzymes, beneficial bacteria and micro-organisms, and wild fermentation as Sauerkraut and other ferments.

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Truth

There are 1.5 billion to 10 trillion colony-forming units of bacteria, yeast, and fungi in one tablespoon of fermented vegetables. Probiotic pills range from 50 million to 10 billion.

Myth

You can get just as much or even more beneficial bacteria from a probiotic than a fermented food such as sauerkraut.

Truth 

Some natural compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients can be removed by fermentation. Phytic acid, for example, which is found in legumes and seeds, binds minerals such as iron and zinc, reducing their absorption when eaten. However, phytic acid can be broken down during fermentation such as fermenting lentils and rice to make Dosas, fermented millet drink from Africa, soaking and fermenting seeds and nuts,  sourdough bread, pancakes, etc.  so the minerals become available.

Myth

Eating whole grains, seeds and legumes are bad for you because of the phytic acid that they contain.

Truth

The gut is often referred to as our second brain. “Looking into the connection between the brain and the gut, it’s important to take into consideration that an estimated 90 percent of serotonin receptors are located in the gut,” says health behavior change specialist Dr Heather McKee.  https://www.vogue.com.au/beauty/wellbeing/how-food-can-improve-your-mood-according-to-the-latest-research/news-story/ad52324c849c9cf22354231c5d1072c6

Myth

Gut Bacteria have nothing to do with our moods such as Depression and Anxiety and how we feel. Probiotics are a waste of time and money.

Truth

There’s often confusion about the difference between pickled foods and fermented ones. Pickles, like the ones you buy in the supermarket and are on the shelf,  are preserved in vinegar which is acetic acid. Although vinegar is a product of fermentation the vegetables and/or fruits themselves are not fermented, and so do not offer lactic acid which is one of the most important bacteria for the health of our gut. They also do not offer the same health benefits of fermented vegetables.

Myth

Vegetables and fruits pickled in Vinegar provide the same bacteria and fermentation as Sauerkraut and other ferments.

 

 

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