Fermentation & gut health by Barbara Herscovici
Lacto-fermentation has been utilised by many cultures for centuries to preserve perishable goods thus making fruits and vegetables available all year around. In fact, archaeological findings suggest that intentional fermentation has been in common practice for close to 10,000 years.
This practice fell out of fashion with the dawn of modern food processing. Instead of the lengthy process of fermentation, the time-saving preservation by vinegar, canning, and deep-freezing were introduced. Yet in the last decade a grassroots movement aiming to change the way we view our food and our connection to it, has helped to rediscover many ancient preparation techniques – techniques we adopt at High Mood Food, such as sprouting and fermenting. Pioneers such as Sandor Katz thought outside the box, owing to their own health issues, and took a hard look at fermentation and helped to reintroduce it into the mainstream. Personal stories of healing have started to add up, and contemporary research can now support what used to be common knowledge: the preventive and healing properties of good bacteria.
As a rule of thumb around 85 % of the bacterial population in a healthy gastrointestinal tract – to be exact in the lower digestive tract – is made up of good bacteria. When the ratio between good and bad bacteria tips, bad bacteria takes over - hurting the microbial balance - and our health is negatively impacted. This ‘dysbiosis’ can cause skin conditions, constipation or diarrhea. It can also contribute to weight gain and may be the root cause for some chronic health conditions.
Bacteria – such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis – multiple during fermentation, and thereby create probiotic rich foods such as Kefir, Kraut and Kimchi. The beneficial live bacteria found in fermented foods, often referred to as ‘probiotics’, is similar or even identical to the bacteria living inside our bodies; therefore consumption of fermented food helps to support a healthy and balanced gut flora.
The fermentation process pre-digests foods by turning carbohydrates into organic acids and makes nutrients more bioavailable. Whether your aim is to correct dysbiosis by healing your gut or you simply want to promote a healthy immune system or support good energy levels, fermented probiotic-rich foods are the perfect place to start.