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Issue 62: Are You in the Cultured Club?

Fermented foods are nothing new, but neither is the process of fermentation—also known as culturing. In fact, humanity has used natural biological processes to its advantage since recorded history.

Fermentation is one of those natural processes that uses bacteria, yeasts, and molds to produce fermented foods. Yeasts, for example, produce carbon dioxide and alcohol, and certain bacteria and molds ferment milk, producing carbon dioxide and lactic acid. In short, lactic acid bacteria, or lactobacilli, produce acids which inhibit the growth of many other organisms, including harmful ones. 

It’s been said that the food of our ancestors, which included fermented foods, contained several thousand times more bacteria—mainly the good probiotic bacteria—than our food does today.  In fact, our modernized eating has dramatically reduced or excluded foods produced by natural fermentation.

This lack of good bacteria in our food, combined with our focus on antibacterial hygienic measures, precludes the possibility for maintaining satisfactory protective indigenous gut flora—good bacteria—necessary for optimal digestion and gastrointestinal health.†

The truth is that fermented foods and fermentation have found their places in history and have permeated many cultures. Here are some examples: 

Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (668-626 BCE):  Enumerated the “best wines of his time”

China:  Records date as far back as 6,000 years concerning fermented cabbage 

Roman texts:  Sauerkraut was prized for its delicious taste and medicinal properties.  (Tiberius carried a barrel of sauerkraut with him during his long voyages to the Middle East because Romans knew its ingestion offered intestinal support.) 

Captain James Cook:  During his sailing trips from 1769 to 1780, Cook forced his crew to eat sauerkraut—causing Cook to become well known for the extraordinary survival record and health of his crew.  

Russia and Poland:   Pickled green tomatoes, peppers, and lettuces 

Asia (Japan, China, Korea):  Pickled preparations of cabbage, turnip, eggplant, cucumber, onion, squash, and carrots. Korean kimchi---is a fermented condiment of cabbages and other vegetables. 

Early American: Fermented relishes 

India: Varieties of chutneys and sour milk 

France: Bread, cheese, wine, and beer 

Japan: Miso, soy, and pickles 

Indonesia: Tempeh

Africa: Porridge of fermented millet, corn, cassava, and sorghum  

Moslem countries: Fermented-grain breads 

Having culture…it’s just as important for health these days as it was in days of old.

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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