By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer
Early records show that Chinese workers ate acid-fermented vegetables while building the great wall of china, Japan traditionally serves pickled vegetables with their meals. pickled onions, aubergines, cucumber, mustard, vinegar, and all that go into the fermentation of pickles. Pickling is the process of preserving food by anaerobic fermentation in brine (salt water) or vinegar. The pH drops to about 4.6 or lower in pickling which is sufficient to kill most bacteria
For centuries humans used methods of fermentation to preserve food long before they invented fridges and ice cubes for the purpose. Native Americans buried from sauerkraut in Russia to cheese in Baghdad and vegetables in earthen pots, these foods have been valued for hundreds of years.Today there is a surge in the popularity of fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, but also fermented sweet ice teas, like kombucha or its milky equivalent, kefir.
Then, spices and salt became popular to preserve food especially in the sailing boats during long periods at sea. History tells us that Portuguese sailed all the way to Serendib (Ceylon) to purchase spices like cardamoms, cinnamon and others to use mainly for preserving food, mainly animal products.
Today, fermented foods are becoming popular for its benefits in enhancing the gut flora- bacteria that are friendly, keeping our guts free of disease producing microbes. Infact, they encourage the growth of "good' microorganisms, while preventing the growth of spoilage-causing microorganisms. Fermented foods ranging from sauerkraut to yogurt have become a boon to the gut to benefit not only to feed the friendly bacteria but also possibly for allergies and even weight loss.
Bacteria or yeast feeds on the natural sugars in our foods. These microorganisms create compounds such as lactic acid or alcohol which facilitates to preserve the foods. The Lactic acid produced during food fermentation promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the small gut.
Lactic acid also enhances food digestibility and increases vitamin C and vitamin A levels.
The difference between having antibiotics and pro-biotic for gut bacterial infections is, that the former will destroy the good beneficial germs, whilst the latter will nurture the healthy bacterial flora. Eating yoghurt regularly can help restore your good bacteria levels. Yoghurt is also beneficial to individuals having lactose intolerance, as the active live cultures reduce yoghurt's level of lactose.
Early records show that Chinese workers ate acid-fermented vegetables while building the Great Wall of China. Japan traditionally serves pickled vegetables with their meals. Pickled onions, aubergines, cucumber, mustard, vinegar, and all that go into the fermentation of pickles. Pickling is the process of preserving food by anaerobic fermentation in brine (salt water) or vinegar. The pH drops to about 4.6 or lower in pickling which is sufficient to kill most bacteria.
Antimicrobial herbs and spices such as mustard seed, garlic cinnamon or cloves are often added.Pickle or Achcharu as it is called, considered popularly 'rice pullers' and served with meals in most homes in Sri Lanka. The older the pickle, more mature and seasoned it is, the better its quality and benefits. Koreans seem to ferment cabbage and was considered a most beneficial healing agent since early humans. Korean dish kimchi; soybeans into miso are other Korean fermented foods. Beer drinkers should be happy that beer is an alcoholic beverage produced by saccharification of starch and fermentation of the resulting sugar. Beer also is flavoured with herbs or fruit, and should be considered a friendly drink to the gut. It is the oldest fermented beverage. Beer should be sipped whilst enjoying a meal, which is more beneficial and friendly to the gut and digestion of food – just one drink.
Fermented foods helps diabetes
Fermented foods are lower on the glycaemic index than non-fermented foods. This helps the diabetics to maintain a healthy weight because fermented foods are low in carbohydrates and prevent blood sugar spikes. Eating chutneys, pickles, and other fermented foods daily is good for you. So, to be healthy, introduce fermented foods into your daily diet. Sip a chilled glass of beer with your food.
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