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”.
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. 


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.


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.




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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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



Immune Ginger Almond Quinoa with Cashew Date Sauce

Plant-based foods for a healthy immune system

What you can do:

  • Eat more organic fruit and vegetables
  • Increase soluble and insoluble fibre

The most important role of fibre in the diet is to feed intestinal bacteria. When gut bacteria consume fibre, they produce a fatty acid by-product known as butyrate, and people that consume fibre are therefore less likely to suffer from inflammatory disorders like Crohn’s disease, colitis, and leaky gut.

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Fermented Indian Sauerkraut

This is by far my favourite sauerkraut in the cooler weather. As a child, we only ate sauerkraut with caraway seeds in the winter and kosher dill pickles with garlic and dill in the summer and autumn time. I must say I prefer the sour taste with a bit of a kick, and the spices do the job.

Turmeric, garlic, mustard seeds, and ginger… all into the jar they go, and each time the flavour is a bit different but that’s what I love about making your own ferment. Sometimes I let it ferment for 2, 3, or even 4 weeks, and each time the flavour is different.

Left in the fridge for months, it keeps on fermenting and the bacteria gets more and more diversified and better for your immune system. What a fantastic transformation to observe and devour.


ferment T. kraut brine

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