How to Make Your Veggies Even Better For You – The Healing Properties of Fermented Foods
Everyone knows that veggies are good for you. There would be no reason to feel a pang of guilt after eating a bag of Cheetos or a candy bar if you didn’t know there was something out there that you should have eaten instead. Unfortunately, veggies are often not the first item we crave: gnawing on a head of broccoli while watching a movie is not quite as appealing as a bucket of popcorn.
While making your veggies more crave-worthy, appealing and even better for you may seem too good to be true, traditional fermentation techniques can work just short of miracles. Fermentation takes the natural health benefits of raw veggies and accentuates them with added nutrients, while increasing flavor, shelf life and beneficial probiotic bacteria as well.
The process of fermentation is an ancient preservation technique that was used before canning and freezing options were available. During the process, vegetables and sea salt are combined and set out at room temperature for several days or weeks, wherein the process of lacto-fermentation takes place. During this period the starches and sugars in the vegetables are broken down by lactobacilli (good bacteria found on the surface of all living things) and converted to lactic acid. Lactic acid then acts as a natural preservative and contributes to the long list of health benefits fermented foods provide.
The benefits of fermentation include:
1. Lactic Acid: not only a natural preservative that keeps fermented foods from going bad, but also a digestive aid that promotes the growth of healthy bacteria and digestive enzymes throughout your intestine.
2. Probiotics: the healthy bacteria created in the fermentation process that are key to the function of your internal systems. Probiotics work to maintain PH levels in the body, which is essential to the health of your digestion and helps prevent the growth of bad bacteria in your body. Probitoics also help promote the physical function of your digestive system, helping move the food through your body efficiently. Recent studies link probiotics to immune health, low cholesterol, low blood pressure, strong intestinal walls, and overall vitality.
3. Lactobacilli: the bacteria found on the surface of all living things that facilitate the creation of lactic acid from vegetable starches and sugars. Lactobacilli are responsible for making fermented foods more digestible and increasing the vitamin levels that are available for your body’s use. These good bacteria also help create many beneficial digestive enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic matter. Enzymes: naturally produced chemicals that help your digestive system break down food and absorb nutrients.
4. Enzyme rich foods, like fermented veggies, can help supplement your natural enzyme production, which can deteriorate due to stress, environmental factors and poor diet. A healthy supply of digestive enzymes can help your body create energy more efficiently, stay healthy, regulate metabolism and feel less bloated or bogged down throughout the day.
5. Nutrients: good bacteria and digestive enzymes in fermented foods help create and release more available nutrients to your body. With better digestion, absorption and utilization of nutrients, your body will feel and perform better on an every day basis. Nutrients like Vitamin C (for immunity, and antioxidant function) as well as B vitamins (for energy creation and muscle function) are created during the fermentation process and readily used by the body.