Why Fermented Foods Are Awesome

Hey everyone,


Hope all is well where ever you may be.  I myself am currently taking a break from text book reading, sitting in the sun figuring out what I should be writing about and explaining to all you wonderful people that keep coming back here. If its your first time to my site, welcome.

It was pointed out to me the other day that I have never actually written about two big factors that I've focused on coming from a Paleo perspective and now the approach that I use these days. That's Gluten and Lactose. 

I can think of several places you could go to get more information on those two things specifically. But I probably will write something on how they function within our systems and why taking gluten out of your diet doesn't make you allergic to it like many people seem to think. But thats for another day. Today I will talk about why you can eat foods made with allergens and how to go about it.

Natural fermentation of foods predates human history. Fermentation of fruits for example is a way that we can make alcohol. 

Here's a quick video displaying natural fermentation. Narrated by the "Honey Badger" 

NSFW, language warning. 

(This article counters the idea of drunk elephants)  

Anyway, back to my point.

So as we developed societies and began to store foods, cultures found that their food would store much better, for much longer after it had been fermented (or pickled).

Almost every culture has it's traditional fermented foods. We see a long fermentation process applied to Wheat to give us Sour dough bread, Barley and Buttermilk fermented can give us Rabadi, fermenting Soy gives us many varieties of products like Miso, Tempeh and to a lesser extent Soy sauce (the wheat is not fermented here), Ruminant (thats cows, goats, sheep, camels etc.) Milk for Cheeses and Yoghurts. I could go on.

My point.  

All these foods, without proper fermentation can cause severe digestive and auto immune issues for some populations. 

A study conducted by the University of Bari, in Bari Italy found that lactobacilli and fungal proteases degraded gluten content to < 10ppm during sourdough fermentation.

Eight patients with CD in remission were enrolled for the clinical challenge, and they daily consumed 200 g of sweet baked goods equivalent to 10 g of native gluten... patients showed normal values of haematology, serology, and intestinal permeability during 60 days of challenge.

Although the study suggests that sourdough is safe for patients with celiac disease, researchers do not recommend CD patients to consume, based on the need for further analysis. For those of us with intolerance, we may find that sourdough digests fine. In most cases, the standard level for a gluten free product, is < 20ppm. 

Another grain based food, such as Rabadi(Rabri), a traditional indigenous food of India, while not fermented as long as sourdough, we see an improvement of phytic acid levels and digestibility. An improvement of digestion suggests that gluten peptides may have started to become denatured. If fermented for a longer period of time, we may see a further breakdown of gluten peptides.

In a similar way, Soy products are very high in phytic acid and also contain high amounts of phytoestrogens(another topic for another day, lets just look at allergens for now).

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that fermentation of soy reduces isoflavones and phytic acid. In both cases, this would reduce systemic inflammation from digestion of the soy.

Moving to dairy, lactose being a prime culprit for gut discomfort. We see the addition of the enzyme lactase to produce cheese and yoghurts. This enzyme 'consumes' lactose and uses it as energy(yes, lactose is sugar). Part of the cheese making process(rinsing) also removes casein, another common allergen in milk. Interestingly, goats milk is anecdotally known to cause less irritation to the stomach, so those of you wanting to drink dairy may find that as a good alternate source. 

Fermentation, generally speaking leaves a lot of good bacteria in the resulting product, which for gut health and re-establishing healthy stomach flora is a must.  Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi, kombucha(a fermented tea), fermented cod liver oil, fermented butter are an ideal go to source and rarely cause stomach and intestinal issues.

Once going on a gluten free and/ or dairy free protocol, whether it be Paleo, Westin A Price, Atkins, Body Trim. I would strongly suggest finding which of these fermented foods work well with your system and include it in your protocol.