All this winter, I dedicated myself to producing fermented products. It was something I already did once in a while, but this season I set out to do it on a larger scale and variety, experiencing many new things. Miso, olives, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, rejuvelac, preserves of most varied vegetables, vegan cheeses or simply pestos … The flavors, textures and colors varied a lot. There were those who pleased and those I don’t want to try again. Still others to taste, since the time of maceration is long, having a wait of about a year or more, as is the case of miso.
But why should we devote so much time to these preparations? Why does it make sense to have fermented products in our homes to consume regularly?
I believe that for most of you it isn’t new that an endless number of other living beings cohabit in our body and help in several functions of our organism. They’re mainly in our intestine and Microbiota is the term we commonly use to define the set of bacteria that populate our body, namely the intestine.
Although in the last decades a current of thought has developed that tends to diabolize bacteria, seeing them as enemies to kill, the truth is that these microscopic beings have been part of us for thousands of years and without them our life would be in risk.
They are responsible for, for example, assisting in nutrient absorption processes, vitamin B and vitamin B complex vitamins, by synthesizing digestive enzymes and regulating bowel movements, assisting in the reduction of plasma cholesterol levels, or producing antimicrobial substances by making the environment unfavorable to the growth and development of micro-organisms causing diseases.
In my opinion, bacteria should be treated with as much attention as we do to our pets. They are living beings who need to be treated properly so that they can perform their functions harmoniously, allowing us to enjoy high levels of health and vitality.
But are we appropriately taking care of our bacteria? See to how many of the following factors are you daily exposed and try to value the quality of your microbiota, knowing that each one of them represents a factor of imbalance of your intestinal flora:
. Toxins, pollutants, food additives
. Inadequate food with presence of sweeteners and other
. Medications (antibiotics / anti-inflammatories)
. Intensive Sport
. Menopause / Andropause
. Bacterial infections
Certainly most of us live exposed to multiple of the above factors, since many are part of our daily routines, especially to those who live in big cities and have to daily breathe heavily polluted air, spend hours in traffic and are exposed to a constant stress.
Indeed the so-called “development” has profoundly altered our lifestyle and our eating habits. However, I think that the food changes that were made were to favor large corporations and not the well being of our body, if not, the fact that we are more exposed to risk factors would make us feed in such a way to try to protect our body more. But on the contrary, we have increased potentially dangerous exposures and we have been decreasing the quality of the food consumed, since in general each person spends less and less time preparing their meals, increasing sales of processed and pre-cooked foods and profits of food industry at the same time as the levels of vitality of our population fall.
But coming out of this black panorama, we also see many lights at the end of the tunnel and this is where I prefer to be. What can we do then?
Apart from what I have always been publishing and which is based on eating real and whole foods, produced in an organic way and then prepared by your hands, with your best intention and chewed endless times, consuming fermented foods will undoubtedly be a super help to balance our intestinal flora and consequently to increase our immunity and our energy and vitality.
However, one must understand what a fermented food is, since I constantly tell people that they should eat pickles and they tend to say they do. Most pickles you buy in regular food chains are produced in an industrial way where fermentation accelerators are used and then pasteurization methods that kill beneficial bacteria.
Note that the reason we should consume fermented foods is that they contain live bacteria similar to those that live in our gut and therefore are probiotic foods. But if they are produced industrially, with chemicals, accelerators, etc., the bacteria are already dead, losing all the benefits.
So my advice is for you to produce your own fermented foods. Prepare a good quantity, let to ferment for a few days / months (depending on your choice and taste), store in the refrigerator after opening and go consuming on a daily basis.
Begin by elaborating sauerkraut, in my opinion the simplest of all fermented, where you just cut the cabbage into thin julienne, add between 2 to 10% of its weight in sea salt, knead vigorously with your hands until the cabbage soften and start to release a juice, put everything in a sterilized bottle (tightening well not to keep air bubbles), and reserve in a cool place not exposed to direct sunlight, ensuring that all cabbage is constantly submerged in liquid. And in ten days you can taste the pickle. You can also let it ferment for months, knowing that the taste will be more intense the longer you let it macerate.
There are many books that can guide you in the first steps to ferment food. But once you begin, I assure you that it is a world of discoveries where you will surely want to venture without guides or rules. Like almost everything in life, it just hard to start! 😉