Fermented or “live” foods have played a central health role in many Blue zones that are noted for longevity. Alas, modern farm production and food distribution techniques work against live raw food that is bursting with life-enhancing, ‘ good ’ bacteria. Instead, most of the world is increasingly hooked on junk, nutritionally depleted, enzyme-dead convenience food. The major risk of prolonged exposure to enzyme deficient food is enlargement of the pancreas as it is constantly over-worked. In contrast, fermented foods are rich in good bacteria that generate enzymes and their regular consumption will reduce cholesterol levels, strengthen digestive and immune systems and improve overall health.
Bacteria are living cell factories which reproduce, consume wastes of different types and create enzymes. The best known bacterium is lactobacillus acidophilus found in probiotic yoghurt, but there are many other good bacteria.
Enzymes (see Chapter C1) are critical for breaking down food into its nutritional components and ensuring the nutrients get to where they are needed. Unfortunately, as we age the amount we can generate and their potency decrease with the passing years. In essence, without enzymes in sufficient quantities or strength, a person could eat a very nutritious diet but fail to absorb the nutritional benefits leaving them exposed to age-related diseases despite a good diet.
This chapter looks at nine traditional fermented foods briefly introduced below. It should be noted, however, food manufacturers have cottoned on to the demand for live food and are increasingly introducing good bacteria into foods like cereals, cottage cheese and sour cream . Brewer’s yeast, a byproduct of the beer making process, also contains probiotics. There is also the prebiotic category of foods like honey, fruit, raw apple cider vinegar, sprouted wheat and tomato. These help beneficial bacteria continue to grow and thrive in the gut.
Some types of cheese are probiotic, namely Aged Cheese. The probiotic cheeses are Cheddar, Emmental, gouda, parmesan and the blue cheese family of roquefort, gorgonzola and stilton. One to two ounces a day is sufficient.
Kefir is a slightly sour creamy drink originating from the Caucasus. It is produced by inoculating cow, goat or sheep’s milk with kefir grains, creating a product rich in a variety of beneficial bacteria. Kefir is superior to yoghurt in enzymatic quality.
Koreans serve Kimchi with practically meal and it is generally rated one of the top ten healthiest foods in the world. The main ingredient is cabbage mixed with other vegetables, radish , cucumbet, garlic, ginseng, peppers, mustard leaves, sesame seeds, etc. It is high in dietary fibre, low in calories, and rich in vitamins A, B1 and B2, calcium and iron together with Lactobacillus Kimchi.
The main ingredients of the traditional Japanese seasoning Miso include a grain base of barley or brown rice and fermented soybeans with an enzyme called “koji”, which contains live Aspergillus oryzae mouls, Miso is high in antioxidants, lowers cholesterol and helps prevent cancer.