Benefits of lacto-fermented foods


In the US, there has been a growing interest in traditional, naturally lacto-fermented foods. This is because lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut and fresh dill pickles have been found to be some of the most beneficial foods around. Lacto-fermented foods are raw and thus naturally abundant in nutrients, antioxidants and enzymes. They are teeming with good bacteria which keep the gut microbiome and overall immune health in top shape.

On the practical side, lacto-fermented foods are inexpensive, easy to prepare and they do taste good, if you get used to it — as I have.

What are lacto-fermented foods?
Some of the more popular lacto-fermented foods you probably have heard are the following:
  • Sauerkraut — This is most popular in Germany and is basically fermented cabbage. There’s currently a jar of sauerkraut sitting in my ref and you can know how I made it myself by looking up this post.
  • Kimchi — This is a staple condiment in Korea and probably one of the Koreans’ secrets in having healthy, trim bodies and great skin. Kimchi is fermented napa cabbage which we Filipinos call Chinese cabbage.
  • Fresh dill pickles — This is more common in America and is just cucumbers fermented in brine and fresh dill.
  • Cheese and yogurt — These are universally-loved fermented dairy products. I have been making my own yogurt for probably two years now and I have a photo-tutorial right here if you want to make your own yogurt, too.
  • Other examples of lacto-fermented foods in other cultures include fermented olives, fermented lemons and aged sausages or charcuterie.

In a nutshell, lacto-fermented foods are those which have gone through lacto-fermentation wherein the naturally-existing good bacteria found on the surfaces of raw foods digest the natural sugars to produce lactic acid. This happens when you let raw produce stay at room temperature for about a week to three weeks. The lactic acid produced preserves the food and gives a wonderful tangy flavor to the fermented food.

In the  process of lacto-fermentation, food is naturally preserved by the lactic acid and the good bacteria multiply to make a superb probiotic food.

What are the health benefits of lacto-fermented foods?
Probiotic food
Scientists in the field of microbiology are just starting to scratch the surface of the incredibly intricate world of healthy microbiome living in the human body. Our own gut, for example, is naturally inhabited by trillions of good microorganisms which are composed of friendly bacteria, yeasts and fungi. This friendly microflora protect us from the bad microorganisms that gain entry and can even kill cancer cells. They also manufacture vitamins such as Vitamin B12 and enzymes.

However, good bacteria can be wiped out by a simple round of antibiotics — which is the reason why you sometimes get diarrhea or vaginal thrush after antibiotic treatment. The secret to health is now found in finding the right populace of friendly guys in your gut. One simple way to do that is to eat lacto-fermented foods.

Preserves food
As mentioned, when good bacteria feed on sugar, they churn out lactic acid which is a powerful yet safe food preservative. Lactic acid, unlike the sodium nitrite preservatives in canned goods, is not toxic.

Before refrigerators and chillers were invented, people relied on lacto-fermentation to get them fed all through the long months of winter. Sauerkraut, cheese, yogurt and aged meats are what they subsist on during months when they could not do farming.

Promotes better digestion
The benefit of eating whole foods is that whole foods contain both the nutrients you need as well as the enzymes needed to fully break them down into absorbable forms. Remember, lacto-fermented foods are whole, raw foods that are not heat-processed in any way.

Lets you save time and money
I’ve just made my third batch of sauerkraut, my second batch of fermented syrup (blog post soon) and my first batch of fermented kamias or iba (again, blog post soon) and I can see how easy and inexpensive it is. Just leave a big mason jar of cabbage leaves in a cool, dark place for about a week and then wait. Vegetables, salt, a jar and time — these are all you need in exchange for probiotics, good food and good health.

fermented kamias or iba

I am definitely going to make more fermented foods soon. I sooo want to make kimchi soon. I hope to learn more about fermentation, ferment more foods and stay on track, for the sake of my family’s health.

I say let us get back to the old paths — the wise, old way of preserving and preparing foods. Start lacto-fermenting foods today. Start with sauerkraut as it’s the easiest in my opinion. Feel free to ask in the comments section below if you need help.

Here are lacto-fermented recipes I have made and featured in this blog:
Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
Curtido (fermented cabbage, carrots and herbs)


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