Nowadays there are more holistic approaches to solving or preventing health issues. So why aren’t more people taking advantage of these approaches? Prescription drugs can be harsh on your body and even cause side effects, but all-natural products provide nothing but nutrients and other health benefits. Let’s take fermented foods for example, fermented foods aid digestion and can help prevent cancer (5).
What is Fermentation?
Fermentation is a process by which organisms convert nutrients, such as carbohydrates, into alcohols and acids, such as lactic acids. This process preserves the food and creates enzymes, vitamin B’s, omega 3 fatty acids, and probiotics. (1) (2).
Benefits of Eating Fermented Foods
Probiotics help balance bacteria in your digestive system. It can also help slow down or reverse diseases, improve bowel health, aid digestion and improve immune system (1).
2. Absorbs Food Better
The enzymes in these foods help absorb more nutrients, and if you’re eating other healthy foods, you’ll be absorbing even more nutrients meaning you can probably cut down on any supplements you may be taking (1).
3. Preserves Food Easily
Fermented food allows for longer lasting food, such as sauerkraut, pickles, beets and other garden foods. They can last you for months and they won’t even lose their nutrients (1).
4. Helps prevent Cancer
The probiotics in these fermented foods help aid with detoxification, improves damaged cells, inhibits tumor growth and stimulates the immune system (3). Check out this article for more information on fermented food and cancer prevention.
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5. Helps With Digestion and Heart Diseases
Fermented foods are a great source of fiber, which is very helpful to the digestive system. It helps prevent constipation and improves the bowel function. It also prevents cramps and bloating (5). Also, the fibers prevent the negative effect of cholesterol in the arteries which helps prevent cardiovascular diseases. To find out more about how fermented foods can help fight against heart disease read this article by Healthy Food USA.
Types of Fermented Foods
- Fermented vegetables – cabbage, carrots, kale, cucumbers, sauerkraut
- Tempeh – soybeans, often used as meat substitute
- kombucha – a sweetened tea fermented with bacteria and yeast
- Miso – soybean, rice or barley paste fermented with koji mold used in soups and dressings
- Kimchi – pickled vegetables like cabbage or radish
Easy 3-Ingredient Sauerkraut Recipe
Sauerkraut, a form of fermented cabbage, is one of the healthiest forms of fermented foods. Sauerkraut is known to help fight inflammation and cancer, as it contains antioxidants and dietary fibers. The benefits of probiotics in sauerkraut and other fermented foods are astronomical, let’s take a look:
According to the Journal of Applied Microbiology (6), Probiotics help lower the risk of:
- Brain disorders and mental illnesses
- Digestive disorders
- Hormonal imbalances
- Autoimmune diseases
Making your own sauerkraut is simple and it only requires 3 ingredients. The initial prep time is fairly quick and requires about 3-10 days of fermentation.
What You’ll Need to Make Homemade Sauerkraut:
- 1 medium head of green cabbage (about 3 pounds)
- 1 ½ tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp of caraway seeds for flavor (optional)
Servings: about 4-6 cups
- Cutting board
- Mixing bowl
- Mason jar
- Cloth and rubber band to cover jar
- Slice the cabbage: discard the limp outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into quarters and trim out the core. Slice the quarter down making 8 wedges. Slice each wedge crosswise into very thin ribbons.
- Combine the cabbage and salt: put the cabbage into the mixing bowl and sprinkle salt over top. Start massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. This process should take around 5-10 minutes. Then mix in your caraway seeds to add flavor.
- Put the cabbage into the jar: pack the jar with your cabbage and pat it down with your fist. Pour any liquid from the bowl into the jar.
- Weight the cabbage down: this will help keep the cabbage submerged beneath its liquid.
- Cover the jar: cover the top of the jar with a cloth and secure it wit the rubber band. This will allow the air to flow in and out of the jar but prevents anything else from getting in.
- Press the cabbage every few hours: for the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage. The liquid will eventually rise over the top of the cabbage – If after 24 hours the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in one cup of water and add to the jar to submerge the cabbage.
- Ferment the cabbage for 3-10 days: keep away from direct sunlight and at cool room temperatures. Keep it around 20 degrees celsius for optimal results.
- After the three-day mark, you can start eating it and then refrigerate it. You could also leave it for the ten days to ferment if you want. It comes down to you and when you think it tastes right, whether that’s on the third day or sixth day or the tenth day.
Things to Keep in Mind:
While it’s fermenting there may be bubbles or white scum coming through the cabbage foam on the top, these are all signs of healthy fermentation, so don’t freak out. You can skim off the scum either during fermentation or before refrigerating.
If you see any mold, skim it off right away and make sure your cabbage is fully submerged in liquid.
You can store sauerkraut for up to two months, and even longer if you keep it refrigerated. As long as it tastes and smells good, it’s good to eat.
How to Incorporate Sauerkraut in Your Daily Diet
- Use it as a condiment – add it to your sandwich or wrap
- Toss some in your salad – add your lettuce, your homemade sauerkraut, some brine, splash some olive oil and squeeze some lemon (you can add sauerkraut to any kind of salad).
- Add it to your scrambled eggs – eat sauerkraut first thing in the morning by mixing it in with your eggs.
- Eat it right out of the jar – eat the sauerkraut straight from the jar for a quick pick-me-up!
As you can see, the possibilities of adding sauerkraut to your meals are endless. So what are you waiting for? Try this fabulous cabbage recipe and see all the health benefits that will come along with fermenting food.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.
- Mama, K. -., & Says:1, K. C. (2016, December 28). Health Benefits of Fermented Foods | Wellness Mama. Retrieved April 13, 2017, from https://wellnessmama.com/2245/health-benefits-fermented-foods/
- Phillips, T. (2016, September 18). What is Fermentation? Retrieved April 13, 2017, from https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-fermentation-375557
- Fermented Foods and Cancer. (2015, October 19). Retrieved April 13, 2017, from http://beatcancer.org/blog-posts/fermented-foods-and-cancer/
- MacCharles, J., Says, J. B., & Says, S. (2014, February 21). What is Koji (and how to make it)? Fermenting 101. Retrieved April 13, 2017, from http://www.wellpreserved.ca/koji-make-fermenting-101/
- Cabbage Is Your Secret Weapon Against Cancer And Heart Disease! (2017, March 10). Retrieved April 13, 2017, from https://healthyfoodusa.com/cabbage-secret-weapon-cancer-heart-disease/
- Axe, Dr. (2017, March 29). 7 Health Benefits of Sauerkraut, Plus How to Make Your Own! Retrieved April 13, 2017, from https://draxe.com/sauerkraut/
- How To Make Homemade Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2017, from http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-homemade-sauerkraut-in-a-mason-jar-193124
- Howe, H. (2016, December 16). 7 Easy Ways to Eat Sauerkraut. Now 18 Ways and Counting… Retrieved April 13, 2017, from https://www.makesauerkraut.com/easy-ways-to-eat-sauerkraut/
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