I have long been a fan of fermented milk products, kefir being my favourite among them. I will never be able to overlook the beneficial side effects of my nine day kefir fast, during which I saw cavities, dark spots and pimples disappear from my body, literally on a daily basis. However, it is important to acknowledge that milk products aren’t the only food category with which you can reap the benefits of fermented foods. Fermented vegetables can be just as beneficial.
Fermented vegetables contain “good bacteria”, the kind that would be found naturally in a healthy gut. Unfortunately, most adults start running low on this bacteria due to stress, consumption of refined dead foods, antibiotics, caffeine, alcohol and other unhealthy living habits. As such, current research favours adding such natural probiotics to your diet as part of a healthier lifestyle. The consumption of fermented vegetables, for instance:
1. Populates your gut with beneficial bacteria, improving your ability to digest food and eliminate toxins.
2. Improves your immune system. (Your gut is the primary base for over 80% of your immune system).
3. Provides your body with vitamins and minerals, including the complex of B vitamins.
4. Prevents the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
5. Produces hormones that regulate fat storage.
6. Regulates the regeneration of the gut lining.
7. Helps fight depression.
Putting scientific research aside, and simply looking at the anecdotal evidence, I must observe that my grandfather, the longest living man in my family to date, managed to attain longevity while eating processed meat, sweets, and fatty foods as well as working in a hazardous environment. This is in part due to his love for canning home-grown fermented vegetables. This pastime of his, incidentally represents a relatively affordable and easy way to improve his health.
For those that want to master the process themselves, prepare your cutting board, knife, your organic veggies, a sterilised canning jar, salt and a large bowl, and follow the instructions provided in this video presentation:
Finally, do keep in mind that there is a world of difference between your home-made fermented veggies and most canned pickled products sold at the grocery stores. The latter, quite often, aren’t even fermented at all. These store-bought veggies have been preserved in an acidic medium, and the pickling comes from vinegar not from the vegetables themselves. Hence these foods do not offer the same probiotic and enzymatic value as those made at home.