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Health Benefits of Lacto-Fermented Foods

To understand the virtue of lacto-fermented foods, it's important to understand the digestive process itself. Two things happen when we eat. First, ingested foods are broken down. Second, nutrients are built up. If the breaking-down process is incomplete, the building up will not happen correctly.

In her book Making Sauerkraut and Pickled Vegetables at Home, Annelies Schoneck explains the role of lacto-fermented foods:

What is astonishing is that lactic acid contributes to both processes—that of decomposition and that of reconstruction. On the one hand it supplies digestive juices in the form of organic acids that help break down the foods we eat, and on the other hand it activates the metabolic processes whereby these foods are transformed into new living substances.

Lacto-fermented foods normalize the acidity of the stomach. If stomach acidity is insufficient, it stimulates the acid-producing glands of the stomach, and in cases where acidity is too high it has the inverse effect. Lactic acid helps break down proteins and thus aids in their assimilation of iron. The decomposition in the stomach of the organic forms of iron depends on the quantity of hydrochloric acid present as well as the amount of vitamin C, which is why sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented vegetables rich in this vitamin have such a favorable influence. . . .

Lactic acid activates the secretions of the pancreas, which is particularly important for diabetics. . . Sauerkraut contains large quantities of choline, a substance that lowers blood pressure and regulates the passage of nutrients into the blood. . . Choline has another interesting property in that it aids the body in the metabolism of fats. If choline is lacking, fats accumulate in the liver. . . Sauerkraut also contains acetylcholine, which has a powerful effect on the parasympathetic nervous system. It helps reduce blood pressure, slows down the rate of heartbeat, and promotes calmness and sleep. As acetylcholine is destroyed by cooking, raw sauerkraut and its juice is preferable to cooked.

Sauerkraut is easy to make. It requires a head of cabbage, sea salt, and a mason jar or other container. For those who would rather purchase it, I recommend the Bubbies brand available at stores like Whole Foods.

Sally Fallon points out in her book Nourishing Traditions:

Scientists are mystified by the proliferation of new viruses—not only the deadly AIDS virus but the whole gamut of human viruses that seem to be associated with everything from chronic fatigue to cancer and arthritis. They are equally mystified by recent increases in the incidence of intestinal parasites and pathogenic yeasts, even among those whose sanitary practices are faultless. Could it be that in abandoning the ancient practice of lacto-fermentation and in our insistence on a diet in which everything has been pasteurized, we have compromised the health of our intestinal flora and made ourselves vulnerable to legions of pathogenic microorganisms? If so, the cure for these diseases will be found not in vaccinations, drugs, or antibiotics, but in a restored partnership with the many varieties of lactobacilli, our symbionts of the microscopic world.

In the 1800s sailors made the connection between sauerkraut and the prevention of scurvy. Perhaps in our day we'll make the connection between gut health, toxicity, and lacto-fermented foods.

Quotes

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

Dedication