The following article on the very important topic of the benefit
of traditionally fermented foods to your diet is by Nancy Lee Bentley.
Nancy is the co-author of my new book, "Dr.
Mercola's TOTAL HEALTH Program" who created the more than
150 brand new delicious and nutritious grain-free, low-carb recipes
that you'll find there.
By Nancy Lee Bentley
Self-serve olive bars are becoming so popular in many Washington
supermarkets that storeowners are now offering expanded "antipasto"
bars, heaped high with pickles, pickled peppers, mushrooms, artichokes
and other tangy pickled and marinated foods, according to The Seattle
This growing trend in both health/natural and regular commercial
supermarkets across the country is theoretically good news for health-conscious
consumers looking to increase their digestive, cardiovascular and
immune health, since these traditionally lacto-fermented foods are
some of the oldest and healthiest on the planet. Yet, the key phrase
you absolutely must watch for if you want to achieve the amazing
health benefits is traditionally lacto-fermented, as not
all of these tasty condiments are created equal.
The Wonderful Health Benefits of Traditionally
Olives, pickles, grass-fed cheese,
wine, yogurt, sauerkraut and the seasoned, aged sausages the French
call "charcuterie" are some of this category’s most
Though the term "fermented" sounds vaguely distasteful,
the results of this ancient preparation and preservation technique
-- produced through the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins
by microorganisms such as bacteria, yeasts and molds -- are actually
delicious. Even more so, they are so beneficial to overall health
that some of these "functional foods" are now considered
to be "probiotics," increasing your overall nutrition,
promoting the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria, and aiding
digestion and supporting immune function, including an increase
in B vitamins (even Vitamin B12), omega-3 fatty acids, digestive
enzymes, lactase and lactic acid, and other immune chemicals that
fight off harmful bacteria and even cancer cells.
Beware the BIG Difference Between Healthy
Fermented Foods Versus Commercially Processed
Fermentation is an inconsistent process --almost more of an art
than a science -- so commercial food processors developed techniques
to help standardize more consistent yields. Technically, anything
that is "brined" in a salt stock is fermented, but that’s
where the similarity ends, as each type of fermented food has specific,
unique requirements and production methods.
Refrigeration, high-heat pasteurization and vinegar’s acidic
pH all slow or halt the fermentation and enzymatic processes. "If
you leave a jar of pickles that is still fermenting at room temperature
on the kitchen counter, they will continue to ferment and produce
CO2, possibly blowing off the lid or exploding the jar," explains
Richard Henschel of Pickle Packers International, which is why,
of course, all "shelf-stable" pickles are pasteurized.
It’s probably not surprising that our culture has traded many
of the benefits of these healthy foods for the convenience of mass-produced
pickles and other cultured foods. Some olives, such as most canned
California-style black olives, for instance, are not generally fermented,
but are simply treated with lye to remove the bitterness, packed
in salt and canned. Olive producers can now hold olives in salt-free
brines by using an acidic solution of lactic acid, acetic acid,
sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate, a long way off from the old
time natural lactic-acid fermenting method of salt alone.
Some pickles are simply packed in salt, vinegar and pasteurized.
Many yogurts are so laden with sugar that they are little more than
puddings. Unfortunately, these modern techniques effectively kill
off all the lactic acid producing bacteria and short-circuit their
important and traditional contribution to intestinal and overall
How to Make Sure You are Getting the Incredible
Health Benefits of Lacto-Fermented Foods
As fermented foods expert Sally Fallon asks in Nourishing Traditions,
with the proliferation of all these new mysterious viruses, intestinal
parasites and chronic health problems, despite ubiquitous sanitation,
"Could it be that by abandoning the ancient practice of lacto-fermentation,
and insisting on a diet in which everything has been pasteurized,
we have compromised the health of our intestinal flora and made
ourselves vulnerable to legions of pathogenic microorganisims?"
Like the $2.97 gallon jars of dill pickles Vlasic sells at a loss
at Walmart, are we undermining our health and even economic well-being
by our insistence on "more, faster and cheaper?"
You can still find some healthy traditional varieties. The stronger-flavored,
traditional Greek olives you are most likely to find on olive bars
are not lye-treated and are still alive with active cultures. So
are "overnights," the locally-crocked fresh pickling cukes
made in local delis every few days, as well as the pickles, sauekraut
and other fermented foods you make yourself at home. Generally,
the more tangy and stronger the flavor (not counting any added jalapeño
or other hot pepper flavorings), the more likely that the food will
still have active and beneficial lactobacteria.
So how can you be sure if you are getting the benefits of these
active, fermentation cultures? For one thing, you can make your
own. Olives, sauerkraut, miso, crème fraîche -- these
are some of the recipes and ingredients I created to be right in
line with Dr. Mercola’s dietary program that you will find
in his new book, "Dr. Mercola’s Total Health Program."
In addition to being good for individual metabolic
types, reducing carbohydrates and cholesterol, strengthening
digestion and immune systems, and even proactively helping us fight
off and prevent disease, these foods are a lot simpler, easier to
prepare and enjoy than you might think.
So in "Dr. Mercola’s TOTAL HEALTH Program," we’ve
demystified the process for you, providing an entire chapter, in
fact, devoted to simple, health-enhancing "Raw, Sprouted and
Fermented Foods." This means double dividends for you: foods
that taste good and are actually incredibly good for you, as well.
Check out "Dr. Mercola’s
TOTAL HEALTH Program," including the Table
of Contents and List
of Recipes, as it is a sure way to make your New Year a happy
and healthy one. Dr. Mercola guarantees the book or your money back
for the rest of your life for a reason -- it WILL improve your health
while pleasing your taste buds. Now, please pass that relish tray!
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