Fermentation is an ancient form of food preservation, the healing properties of which have been appreciated by many cultures for centuries.
Fermentation is an ancient form of food preservation, the healing properties of which have been appreciated by many cultures for centuries. Examples of traditional fermented foods are Japanese fermented pickles, Korean kimchi and German sauerkraut. More common everyday fermented (or ‘cultured’ in diary) foods such as yoghurt, sourdough breads, dill pickles and miso all also aid digestion.
From a Chinese medicine view, sour flavours support the liver energy and move stagnation of Qi, both of which will help keep the digestion going. Many people suffer from stagnation in the intestine. Sedentary lifestyles, emotional issues and too much damp-forming food such as sugar and alcohol add to the problem. Even so-called healthy juices and raw (unfermented) foods can cause stagnation in the intestines leading to a weakened and compromised digestive system, bloating, gas and discomfort.
I have written a great deal in the past about raw foods and their role in our diet and I only advocate eating raw fruit and vegetables and salads early in the day so they can be digested properly. Hence my no raw after 4pm rule. I never advocate a diet entirely based on raw foods and juices, even for a short period of time. Many traditional societies include raw, enzyme-rich food in their diets. However food which has been fermented or cultured before being eaten has improved enzyme content and the digestibility of it is much higher. It is, if you like, pre-digested.
Our ability to receive nourishment from our food requires that we have good digestion and that we are emotionally balanced. We can eat the best diet in the world, but if we have poor digestion then we are unlikely to improve our health by diet alone. Equally, if we are obsessive, anxious and stressed about food, this will impact on how well we receive nourishment from it. So it is important that we give the body a helping hand in order to improve our ability to receive. Adding some fermented food to the diet is one way to help improve the digestive function. Nutritionist Victoria Wells says: “Fermentation produces food that is nutrient-dense and rich in probiotics and enzymes. Vitamin C and certain B vitamins can be synthesised during the fermentation process. The probiotics in fermented food may play a crucial role in nourishing our gut flora, often referred to as the forgotten organ. Gut flora influences thedevelopment and function of the immune system and promotes healthy gastrointestinal function. Fermented foods are often more easily digestible having been
Making meal times peaceful and joyful and giving time over to eating and digesting is also vital. There are several ways we can block our ability to receive nourishment; deep-rooted feeling of worthiness, lack of compassion for ourselves and our needs, or a lack of mothering in our past. These are important issues to address. Mindful eating is also key; spend time savouring food and really enjoying the sensations of taste, texture and aroma, all of which add to the experience of eating and digesting.
5 WAYS TO INCLUDE FERMENTED FOODS
HOW TO MAKE SAUERKRAUT
Sauerkraut directly translated: “sour cabbage”
1 Shred a white cabbage finely and place in a large bowl
2 Lightly sprinkle sea salt (you do not need precise measurements with fermentation)
3 Squeeze and knead the cabbage to release its natural juice
4 Transfer the chopped cabbage with the released juice to a jar or traditional fermentation crock
5 Pack the cabbage in tightly and press really hard to eliminate air bubbles and ensure the cabbage is submerged. It may need to be weighed down. Seal the jar
6 Open the lid daily to release built-up pressure
7 Cabbage ferments quickly at room temperature and the sauerkraut will be ready to eat in 3-5 days but will continue to ferment and develop in flavour for longer
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