Fermented Food Health Benefits

Last Modified on Apr 16, 2014

While most food experts purport fresh food as the healthiest choice, research suggests that trend may be shifting at least slightly. While fresh food is among the healthiest, a new group of foods has been identified as equally beneficial – fermented foods. Fermentation is a process that allows foods to steep, converting natural sugars and carbs into bacteria-boosting agents with a variety of health benefits.

What are Fermented Foods?

Fermentation is considered one of the oldest forms of food preservation; however, this process does more than preserve food. During the process, food is exposed to bacteria and yeast that stimulate the growth of microorganisms. This exposure allows the beneficial microorganisms to overtake the harmful ones, resulting in a nutrient rich food.

The process often results in interesting flavors, textures and smells, but the benefits of these foods far outweigh these differences. Common fermented foods include sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, yogurt, misa, kimchi and others.

Common Fermented Foods

Almost any food can be fermented to render healthful benefits; however, some foods are used more often than others. Kombucha, sauerkraut and yogurt are among the most common and most healthful fermented foods. These foods render specific health benefits and should be incorporated into the daily diet.

Kombucha

Kombucha is a carbonated or fizzy, fermented black tea. This beverage offers a variety of healthful properties and is considered one of the most powerful fermented foods. As it contains between four and seven microorganisms in each bottle, kombucha helps build an especially strong gut and immune system.

Sauerkraut

More than just a New Year’s tradition, sauerkraut should be a part of the regular diet. In essence, the common topping is fermented cabbage that has a strong effect on overall health. Regular consumption of sauerkraut has been tied to increased brain health and diminished depression and anxiety, likely because a tremendous connection exists between the health of the brain and the gut.

Yogurt

Basically any form of yogurt is considered a fermented food; however, not all yogurt is created equal. Greek and regular yogurt are dairy forms, which makes them more acidic and harder to digest. Coconut yogurt is likely one of the best forms to consume regularly, but yogurt in any form delivers a powerful punch of enzymes and probiotics to the diet.

While few realize it, the gut is actually the center of the immune system. As such, consuming fermented foods directly improves health and readily treats a wide range of conditions.


Fermented Cabbage for Intestinal Flora

Approval Ratings
YEA (1)
100%

[YEA]  05/16/2009: Priya from Bangkok, Thailand: "Hi, just wanted to comment on cabbage juice and gas. If you read Sally Fallon's book "Nourishing Traditions" you will see that she advocates fermenting cabbage juice for a couple of days before consumption. I tried this and while the smell was not pleasant, I had no gas at all. You will need to use whey in the process but it's easy to produce. I would urge you all to start eating fermented vegetables regularly for intestinal flora too - highly beneficial."


Fermented Drinks

Approval Ratings
WARNING! (1)
100%

11/20/2011: Timh from Louisville, Usa: "After many yrs of abuse, the use of an alcoholic beverage such as wine, beer or even liquors like brandy, rum, bourbon have seemed to be almost completely erased by conventional medicine and now our many other natural remedies. The Apostle Paul recommended "from now on drink a little wine for your frequent ailments". The Scottish Christian writer George MacDonald dramatized the medicinal use of wine as a daily beverage and the use of Scotch or Bourbon for emergency use as in shock or coma in his novels.

Perhaps Vinegar is the one step further not only in distillation, but also health benefits. Anyway this is a good topic starter.

Personal testimony. When I was not quite 16 yrs, my brother and I elected to help a farmer harvest hundreds of bales of hay. It was the middle of summer with temps soaring in proly low-to-mid 90's. We (plus several other lads) began probably around 4:00 PM and worked hard until just before dark and farmer grilled up a bunch of burgers and we woofed em down and went back to work much refreshed. We "hauled hay" until almost 11:PM enduring the extreme exhaustion of the intense labor. The ride home was like comatose; the loss of electrolytes, lactic acid build-up and extreme fatigue was to the point of barely able to stretch a leg or clasp the hand. But the group was young & daring and not ready to go home on a Friday night, so we headed to the border for some packaged Beer. (I cannot recall exactly, but this was at least one of the first, if not the first time I had drank a full can of beer. ) The thirst and exhaustion was such that I downed 2 cans of beer in about a short 20 minutes drive back home. When I got out of the car, BOOM! I was a new man. No longer sore or exhausted, I felt like I could haul a few hundred more bails of hay or hang out late in the night. It was a feeling as profound as the losing of sexual virginity.

Historically we know that alcohol has strong adaptogenic properties, but unfortunately, the medicinal use has all but disappeared in modern western world. Perhaps there are some good articles or books on this subject.

Any positive testimonies from Earth Clinic members???"


08/29/2011: Francisca from Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France: "Hi Gavin, my ginger beer is doing well! This time I left it fermenting for almost a week, like they advise on a recipe from the Reunion Island. Then they say one should filter it and let ferment for another two days. Is that correct? After that I will cool it but how much time can I keep it? Does it go off? A few days ago I opened it after shaking and oh boy, it almost exploded! I did it because nothing seemed to be happening inside of the bottle but yes..... A lot was going on!"

Replies
08/29/2011: Gavin from Manganui, Northland, New Zealand replies: "Hi francisca.. I think the rule of thumb is to filter it through a muslin cloth, after the yeast has done its thing. Then transfer it into two litre plastic bottles, and before capping put a teaspoon of sugar in. Leave for a few days, cool and then drink. At the bottom of the main fermentation vessel is all the good stuff (fractionated DNA) save that in the fridge and take a bit each day. I have a small bottle in the airing cupboard and am recharging and taking a sip each day from the bottom.. My eyes are definiatly improving I keep forgeting to put the glasses on in the morning.. I'll up the dose when it warms up a bit. If I squint a bit my vision is ok.

Talking about Ginger lol.. Ive been chopping up a good cubic centimeter or pheraps more putting, it in a cup and pouring hot water over it untill its covered.. About a third of a cup. Placing the saucer over it and leaving for about twelve hours. Then strain, and decant into another cup.. Then when the wife is ready to go to bed I pour a capfull of ACV. In and add a teaspoonfull of honey. Steeping the ginger in hot water for an hour or less isnt enough. She drinks this and then goes to bed.... She is sleeping really deeply and is starting to look the picture of health. Before leaving for an hour, and making the ginger tea, didnt have the same effect. It quite remarkable. She has no problem taking the ACV this way. This makes a really pallatable tea."

08/30/2011: Francisca from Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France replies: "Thanks for all the advice, Gavin, I am going to filter my ginger beer straight away. And great advice too about the ginger tea..... I have been sleeping really badly and I am not a picture of health at the moment, I am going to make it right away. When I make ginger tea I only steep it for maybe 10 minutes but I am going to try this now! "


[WARNING!]  08/03/2010: Lisa from Thousand Oaks, Ca, Usa: "I have really been enjoying the many benefits of making and drinking fermented drinks. Currently, I make a young coconut kefir and drink it daily. I have been doing this for about 5 months now. The one comment I do have to give though is that 2 days ago I made a batch but this time I added a bit of raw cane juice as a prebiotic. This was the second time I tried this- the first time was delicious! Well, on this second batch (in the bottle I always make it in) the cap absolutely exploded into bits in my hand. It was quite shocking! And my hand became numb and tingly. I don't want to deter anyone from making their own fermented drinks but heed this as a warning upon opening! What I have done is put a loose fitting cap on the bottle and that seems to have solved this."


Fermented Food and Candida

02/17/2013: Healthseeker from Wi, Usa: "Hi Bill, I was wondering what your thoughts are about consuming fermented foods when following candida diet? would the supplements that are recommended on your candida protocol also kill off the good bacteria? thanks for all your help on this awesome site."

Replies
02/19/2013: Bill from San Fernando, Philppines replies: "Hi Healthseeker... Fermented foods are useful in an anti-candida protocol -- but only in the later stages of a cure.

When you start any good anti-candida protocol, this will initially involve heavy detoxing of heavy metals, halides(Chlorine, Bromine and Fluorine) as well as other poisons from the candida itself. These poisons will continually be dumped into the intestines every day causing perhaps diarrhea problems and the like. This is not the best environment to help re-populate you intestines with good bacteria.

That's why its probably best to take the fermented foods or lacto and bifido bacteria after you have actually detoxed and gotten over your Herxheimer or die-off reactions. The gut will then not contain so much candida or poisons and will stand a much better chance of being re-populated with beneficial bacteria quickly."


General Feedback

10/24/2010: Francisca from Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France: "Yesterday, talking to a friend, she told me that her doctor had told her that it is beneficial to keep yogurts in the fridge for far longer than the date suggests as they will develop beneficial bacteria. Is that true?"


11/28/2009: Kathleen from San Antonio, Texas, United States: "I would like to suggest you add fermented foods to the remedies page."

EC: Thanks for the suggestion - post away!


Heart Health Connection

09/14/2012: Lisa from Thousand Oaks, Ca, Usa: "I know I often mention probiotic- rich, fermented food and its benefits so I thought this would be an apt post. There was an article in Huffington Post from Donna Gates on how fermented foods can reduce heart disease. I will give the link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/donna-gates/probiotics-_b_1543045.html

It's an interesting read and hopefully, helps someone. Lisa"


Kimchee Recipes

Approval Ratings
YEA (1)
100%

[YEA]  12/13/2005: Monica from Atlanta, GA: "I make a large container of kimchee and keep it on hand when I feel my intestinal and vaginal candida starting to act up. For me, it really helps nip an attack in the bud, and seems to raise my immunity generally. It even seems to ward of a cold or any kind of respiratory infection.

Here's my recipe: Buy a big head of nappa cabbage. Coarsely dice, and steam in the microwave with a small amount of water for five minutes only. It should still be crisp.

Place the semi-cooked nappa in a large bowl.

Add the following to taste and toss with the nappa: about 1/2 cup of Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce. This can be purchased at any well-stocked Oriental grocery. The kind I purchase has no sugar, although it does contain vinegar (but that doesn't seem to lessen the benefits in my case.)

Then dice and add 3 or 4 raw scallions.

Grate a large carrot and then, finely dice and add 2 large garlic cloves. Lastly, grate about 2 TBSP of RAW, FRESH ginger and add. Pour on about 1/2 cup water to make a "sauce" that will distribute all of these ingredients with the nappa when mixed together. The result should be a pungent, head-clearing "salad" that I eat in between meals a half-cup at a time, a few times a day when experiencing symptoms.

If you are familiar with kimchee, you know that it traditionally contains fermented fish sauce, so I leave this out, of course. My kimchee stays in my refrigerator at all times and will not spoil, so it can be kept on hand to have when needed. It's a good thing I enjoy eating it. It's great as a condiment on rice, but mixing it with other foods seems to lessen its punch for me. One more thing. It does cause garlic breath, so I brush and gargle with baking soda. It helps me so much with my candida and general immunity, that I'm not willing to give it up!"


Kombucha

02/29/2012: Tina from Houston, Usa: "I tried this successfully and had to share. So much easier and cheaper making this at home to make your own Kombucha versus paying $20 upward for a SCOBY.

http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/2010/05/how-to-grow-a-motherscoby-from-store-bought-kombucha/"


Re- Establish Gut Flora

12/29/2012: Sue M. from Worden, Il, Usa: "Hello everyone. I wanted to post a link to Dr. Mercola's website on "How Gut Bacteria can have Profound Implications on Your Health".

It's what Lisa, and so many others have tried to explain how important it is to our overall health. I really didn't get "how" important until I listened to the video tape that's with the article. She is a scientist and all I can say is "Wow".... what an eye-opener.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/29/probiotics-for-good-digestive-health.aspx?e_cid=20121229_DNL_art_1

And, at years end, I want to say "Thank you" to everyone here who contributes to sharing their knowledge of health issues and especially to this website and staff who give all of us an opportunity to reach out to each other and make a difference."

Replies
12/29/2012: Rob from Manhattan, Ny replies: "Fascinating talk by Bonnie Bassier.. thanks for posting Sue! Along the same subject, I posted this a while ago but will do again.

If you forward to the 44minute mark, Dr's talk how they perform a bacteria transplant (poop transplant) to heal neuralogical disorders (MS) and other ailments. Fascinating science that is gaining recogntion..

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/freakonomics-radio/2012/dec/12/"

12/29/2012: Lisa from Thousand Oaks, Ca, Usa replies: "Hi Sue M. , Thank you for posting this very important information. I read and listened with interest. Dr. Mercola and Donna Gates are friends and I've heard them speak at the Longevity Now Conference so, I know he concurs with her work. I have learned much from her but it's always good to hear others speak on this vast subject as well. Each time I hear someone speak on this I learn more and am fascinated. Once I went to hear a microbiologist speak here in LA and the stories were riveting about the healing with bacterias. As a matter of fact, I first heard about the post Rob made on fecal transplanting from him about 3 years ago so, this actually shows that this work is taking hold and the knowledge keeps growing! I hope others listen to this info! Thanks for sharing, Lisa"
12/30/2012: Sue M. from Worden, Il, USA replies: "Thanks so much for posting the radio link Rob! I had NO idea of what doctors/scientists were doing in that area. So informative! Amazing what we can find out if we read and listen.

Lisa, I wanted to give you an update on my Chinese herbs. I have stopped taking them. I have always had digestive issues in one form or another my whole life.... Which lead to constipation, skin conditions, sensitive stomach, etc. , etc. With so many markers being put in front of me, (this forum, books and articles) I now believe that I don't have the necessary "good" bacteria for my body to function in a natural way. My first indication was taking oil of oregano. I started taking it for prevention of cold sore outbreaks, but what I found was that my skin was "quieting" down and I had more energy and felt a general sense of contentment. So, that lead me to thinking that maybe I had some kind of bacteria going on in my gut that was causing my issues all along. Hence, more reading. I have been replacing my gut flora with fermented foods and just ordered some kombucha. I'm a work in progress. Will keep you updated, but I hope/think I'm on the right path. Never knew just how important our guts/flora is. Thanks guys."

12/30/2012: Lisa from Thousand Oaks, Ca, Usa replies: "Hi Sue M. , So glad to hear from you. I have continued with my Chinese herbs and am seeing very good results. I understand though where you're coming from. I'm glad you have discerned the source of your issues. As you know from so many of my posts, I'm a big proponent for fermented foods. I learned about all this about 3-4 years ago and have spread the word on this ever since. I have made my own kefir, both raw milk and coconut, kombucha, fermented veggies and kimchi. About 5 months ago I invested in a fermenting crock which sits on our counter. I hope you have the chance to make your own fermented goodies. It's actually fun. Also, you may want to look at the body ecology site to learn about healing the gut and also getting the good bacterias in. There are lots of great recipes there which I have used. Something you can easily get ahold of is Bubbie's pickles and/ or sauerkraut which are in the regular grocery store and are truly fermented as oppossed to other products of the same kind. I always keep jars of them in my fridge as back up so I don't run out. If you get them, remember to also drink the juice since it's loaded with good bacteria.

Anyway, welcome to a whole new world! Thought I'd give you a link to Sandor Katz since he's a rock star in the fermentation world! He always has lots of great info.

http://www.wildfermentation.com/

Have fun, good health and wishing you the best for the New Year! Lisa"

12/30/2012: Granny On The Go from Waco, Tx replies: "I have found that I have great results with taking some Colloidal Silver. Don't take more than 3-4 teaspoons a day, divided dose. You may be able to work up to taking more than that but I have never been able to take unlimited amounts without it also seeming to kill off the good bacteria as well as the bad. I have read of people saying they cured themselves of Candida when they didn't know they weren't supposed to drink it like it was water. I'm afraid to try it in copious amounts as my body is terribly sensitive.

I also find [acidophilus tablets] to be a good gut restorer for me.

If you have gas, indigestion, or rectal itching you may find that a good acidophilis supplement will fix those issues. If they don't, try a good vegetarian enzyme product. That enables me able to eat beans, cabbage, and sweet potatoes with little or consequences. I still have a problem with milk but the enzymes help when I do decide to have some ice cream. Best of luck!"


Re-Establish Gut Flora

02/22/2012: Bonnizan from Richmond, Virginia: "http://www.gutsense.org/gutsense/flora.html Please go to this site to get info. I am attempting to reestablish my gut flora with cultered buttermilk enemas and by eating probiotic foods."


Salsa

Approval Ratings
YEA (1)
100%

[YEA]  05/28/2011: Kathie from Houston, Texas/ Usa: "I have read that many do not like the taste of fermented sauerkraut or kimchee. I have to tell you that FERMENTED SALSA IS GREAT!!! I assume that similar good bacteria is in the salsa, maybe just different vit and min. It is my understanding that when we ferment food, the vit and min are more easily absorbed by our body... this is good! And we get the benefit of good bacteria, like from yogurt but without the milk...

Here is my reicipe for fermented salsa (yum! ):

3 big O. Tomatoes (dipped in boiling water for 5 seconds, cut an "X" on the bottom and peel from there, cut in half and dig your fingers in to get the seeds out. Then finely chop.

1 large finely chopped white onion

1-10 cloves finely chopped of garlic (to taste)

1 cup finely chopped cilantro (great for heavy metal detox! )

1-4 jalapanos finely chopped (to taste)

Please note that a food processer makes this a fast job. Add juice from 3 lemons, 1 tablespoon of sea salt, and 1/4 cup whey ( you can get whey from straining plain yogurt through a coffee filter... what remains is a greek style yogurt and the liquid whey).

Mix this all together (not the yogurt) and put it in a quart size mason jar (keep the mixture about an inch from the rim of the jar) and seal with an air tight mason lid- the metal one, not plastic). Let it sit on the counter top for 2-3 days at room temp (colder needs the longer time), then refrigerate.

This is the basic recipe from Sally Fallon's NOURISHING TRADITIONS. Also check out her fermented lemon recipe- it is great on fish... Though my 7 year old son likes to eat it right out of the jar!"


Sauerkraut for Acid Reflux

Approval Ratings
YEA (2)
100%

[YEA]  11/17/2008: Linda from Dayton, Ohio: "I noticed that saurkraut had not been mentioned for relief of acid reflux. I know that lots of german delis serve this with their meals....The fermentation of the kraut is really good for the digestive system...really helpful to decrease acid reflux."


[YEA]  09/01/2008: Anne from Detroit, MI, USA: "I was reading over natural cures for Acid Reflux, or GERD, and noticed no one mentioned sauerkraut. I have been using this and it does work wonders. I used to get pains like aliens eating through my body from the GERD, and the sauerkraut has helped immensely. I don't like the taste of it, so I'm going to try a few things mentioned on this site. 2 tblsp sauerkraut 2x daily helps clear the nausea and pain for me."






 



 

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