Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lactic Acid Bacteria And Sauerkraut

"Growing awareness that good nutrition is the basis for good health is creating a market for simple, traditional foods that haven’t been factory processed or dosed with man-made chemicals......An ideal method of preserving vegetables is by lactic-acid fermentation. Fermented vegetables have always been important sources of nourishment. One of the most well-known is salted, fermented cabbage, known as sauerkraut..."

Why are fermented vegetables, specifically cabbage, beneficial for good health?

"The fibre and lactic acid bacteria improve digestion and promote the growth healthy bowel flora, protecting against many diseases of the digestive tract. It’s low in calories, enzyme-rich and high in vitamin C...."

Why are lactic acid bacterias important?

"Lactobacillus bacteria form a significant part of the natural intestinal flora. Large populations of this and other lactic acid-producing bacteria regulate the levels of friendly bacteria and reduce the levels of toxic pathogens which cause ill health....."

They have a duel role in wellness......

"By altering the pH of the large intestine to a slightly more acidic level, putrefactive bacteria (those potentially detrimental to good health).....tend to be inhibited or destroyed. Through the bacteria’s active enzymes, foods exposed to these bacteria are broken down and pre-digested. When consumed by humans, nutrients are more readily available for absorption and often improve the biological value of foods...."

 Lactobacillus versus Antinutrients

"An indigenous food mixture containing rice flour, milk coprecipitate, sprouted green gram paste and tomato pulp (2: 1: 1: 1 w/w) was developed and called a RCGT food mixture.....All fermentations drastically reduced the contents of phytic acid, polyphenols and trypsin inhibitor activity while significantly improving the in vitro digestibilities of starch and protein...."

Fermentation of  problematic (neolithic) foods does appear to increase digestability, mitigate the impact of antinutrients and limit allergic type responses associated with grains, dairy and legumes. If you have to eat these foods then eating fermented varieties are the best choice. In terms of legumes and grains.....

"Soaking a bean, grain, or seed in water causes the outer hull to be broken down by probiotics—fermented—which enables the sprouting process. Foods treated in this way have higher, more easily absorbed nutrient contents. Sprouting also reduces the content of antinutrients, such as phytic acid, which inhibits the absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc from these grains."


"Lactic acid bacteria present in the human and animal gut are introduced through fermented milk products... Lactobacillus species, such as L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. lactis along with B. bifidum and Streptococcus faecium constitute an integral part of the healthy gastro-intestinal microecology and are involved in the host metabolism. They impart nutritional and therapeutic benefits to the consumer. The vitamins and enzymes produced by the lactic acid bacteria contribute to host metabolism. The antimicrobial substances produced by these bacteria control the proliferation of undesired pathogens. They also elaborate enzymes that aid host metabolism. This is particularly true in case of lactase nonpersistent individuals. Their anticholesteremic properties assist in lowering serum cholesterol. It has been suggested that the tumor suppression trait of these microbes reduces the incidence of colon cancer."

How does it work?

"Lactobacillus acidophilus is a lactose-digesting bacterial species that is non-pathogenic, meaning it doesn't pose any danger to humans...... "

The Benefits of Fermentation

•Protect the integrity of the intestinal lining.
•Maintain immunity, since around half of the body’s immune cells are in the intestines.
•Manufacture B vitamins (useful for vegans).
•Manufacture essential fatty acids.
•Extract calcium from dairy products.
•Aid absorption of vitamins and minerals.
•Produce enzymes to break down foods.
•Produce butyric acid, required for building colon cells.
•Produce anti-tumour substances.
•Produce antiviral substances.
•Produce anti-fungal substances.
•Prevent candida overgrowth.
•Destroy e coli, shigella, and salmonella by making the intestinal tract more acidic and by releasing substances such as lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and selective antibiotics.
•Neutralize endotoxins produced in the body.
•Neutralize potentially carcinogenic nitrites in the digestive tract.
•Aid peristalsis (the movement of the gut muscles for stool elimination) to prevent constipation.
•Get rid of excess cholesterol by breaking down bile.
•Regulate cytokines so as to reduce inflammation.
•Produce anti-cancer isothiocyanates, such as sulfurophane and indol-3-carbinol from foods.

I`m Paleo - I Don`t Need Fermented Foods.....!

There are other factors other than a bad diet that can adversely effect your beneficial gut flora....

"Studies have shown that the gut microflora which are normally present within the intestines are destroyed by a wide variety of factors, such as stress, alcohol, diseases, antibiotics and certain drugs, and even exposure to toxic substances...."

As my way of eating has evolved from strict paleo to more of a primal approach I have re-introduced fermented dairy back into my diet - the prime drivers being both food reward and maintaining gut flora. I like plain unsweetened Greek style yogurts and aged cheese. That said I also recognize the importance of fermented vegetables and my favorite is sauerkraut. It offers beneficial bacteria, the health giving nutrients found in the Brassica family of plants, easy to make/cheap to purchase and food reward. I just love raw sauerkraut! Delicious!

I have been fortunate to discover a local (Maritime Canada) producer of unpasturized kraut with product available in the local grocery stores. Made from cabbage, salt and spring water it is sold in resealable bags for $2.49. Score!

Unpasturized Is The Key

Many manufacturers of fermented vegetables unfortunately pasturize their product or artificially sour it with vinegars. It is important to choose a natural product that still contains the beneficial bacteria. It might take some searching but it is well worth the time if you can source an unpasturized product. The other option is to make your own. Lots of "how to" videos on You Tube and all you need is cabbage, salt, water and airtight containers. Even Paleo advocates can reap the benefits of fermentation while making no exceptions by consuming sauerkrauts and other fermented vegetables.

No comments: