Fermented Foods: Where the good bacteria live
Actually seeing bacteria with our plain eyesight is impossible to do. Because of this, most of us end up living our whole lives without ever realizing we are being sustained by trillions and trillions of bacteria all around us and inside of us. Even though the thought of living with tiny crawlies we can’t see may be a bit weird, many of them are essential to keeping us alive and to help us thrive. Because we oftentimes don’t realize bacteria are working for us, we can forget how essential they are. Thus we end up unintentionally disrupting the delicate balance of our own bacterial army, called Probiotics.
The word ‘Probiotic’ has it’s root in Latin: Pro, meaning “For” and Biotic, or Bios, meaning “Life”. Contrasted with “Antibiotic” which means “Against Life”. On the bacterial level, antibiotics are used to destroy both good and bad bacteria within your body. So when mild to life threatening infection occurs, antibiotics can be life saving. While antibiotics have their place in medicine, they are not without sometimes serious and long-lasting side effects. This is all due to a disruption in the balance of probiotics within the body: the good guys and the infection get wiped out, but if the probiotics are not replenished, then the bad guys get a chance to take charge in the body.
This imbalance of probiotics wreaks havoc on the body, causing all kinds of digestive problems and yeast overgrowth. One way to help relieve these symptoms is by supplementing with probiotic rich foods, or through oral capsules. By consuming a probiotic rich diet, you not only ensure that your healthy flora continue to thrive, but that an imbalanced flora can be rebuilt, too. There are many foods and even drinks that are rich in probiotics, almost all of them fermented. To get the foods richest in probiotics, they will need to be raw and unprocessed other than the fermentation process. This is easy to do since fermented foods are so widely available in your regular grocery stores!
Fermented foods are cultural by nature, as many cultures all around the world have been fermenting foods for thousands of years. Familiar probiotic-rich foods may include tofu, miso, yogurt, kombucha and sauerkraut. Maybe not so familiar fermented foods include poi, kefir, kimchi, aryan and curtido. All of these foods have impressive histories with their countries of origin and are dense with nutrients and probiotics. When something has been working for thousands of years, why change it?
The reason why fermenting foods is so consistently popular across the globe is not only because these foods have a distinct type of flavor, but also because the fermentation process acts as a preserver. This process helps store certain fruits and veggies throughout the winter or even longer. Fermented foods are also high in B-vitamins, which also give us a rush of energy. Until recently, humans haven’t really understood the microbial world. It has been only in the last 30-40 years that humans have been discovering just how important a probiotic rich diet truly is. Especially with a society that has a high antibiotic usage rate, getting your daily dose of probiotics are more important than ever.
Eating fermented foods is delicious as well as beneficial. Fermented foods can also be made at home. There are countless ways to ferment a diverse range of foods. The possibilities to match your taste-buds are endless. Have fun with this; making friends with a trillion little buddies whose sole purpose is to keep you alive might not be so bad. Eat well, live well, and SHINE BRIGHT!