Humankind Grew Up with Fermented Foods,
and Our Bodies Still Need Them!
It’s easy to forget that refrigeration is a recent modern convenience. For most of humanity’s history, people relied on a totally different method of food preservation: fermentation.
There is archeological evidence of food fermentation dating more than 9,000 years ago. Clearly, we’ve been doing this for a while. Not long ago, in traditional diets, fermented foods comprised up to 30% of the daily diet. Our bodies adapted to eating fermented foods and, in many ways, we actually need them.
Enter the refrigerator. Suddenly, within just two or three generations, people eat far more refrigerated and processed food and rarely eat fermented foods. Most of us can count on one hand the nutrient-dense fermented foods we’ve ever eaten: yogurt, kefir, sourdough bread, maybe sauerkraut, maybe kimchi too. Some also eat Miso and tempeh, two fermented soy products. Yogurt is definitely the most common in the Western diet, but even yogurt has been tampered with by adding sugar, flavorings and colorings.
In general, fermented foods are rarities in the Western diet. Researchers are learning that the consequences to human health are way more dramatic than previously thought. That constant intake of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) helped us stay healthy in a big way. Fermented foods have countless benefits, including their ability to:
- Provide microbial diversity in GI tract and throughout the body.
- Concentrate the trace nutrient and antioxidant content of the original food—as much as 200 times more concentrated!
- Help us digest plant protein efficiently.*
- Maintain the integrity of the intestinal lining.*
- Encourage a balanced (not over- or under-active) immune response.*
- Even promote a healthy mood through what’s called the gut-brain axis.*
Now, here’s something really interesting. The probiotics that fermented the food don’t need to be alive to convey positive effects in the body. The presence of their body structures and their fermentation byproducts act as nourishment to the good bacteria already in your gut. Apparently the fermentation process itself creates phytonutrient byproducts, and it seems these byproducts boost your native probiotic population. That’s why sourdough bread can be gut-nourishing even though the baking process kills off the probiotic yeasts.
These ideas are just starting to get into mainstream awareness in the U.S. But at EFI, our beloved friend and mentor Dr. Ohhira, had been talking about these concepts for decades. He knew that the Western diet, with its lack of fermented foods, was going to have some serious whole health consequences.
That’s why he developed his probiotic formulas with a fermented whole food foundation. Dr. Ohhira never encouraged taking conventional freeze-dried probiotic supplements with their billions of CFUs. That’s not what the human body has adapted to. Instead, he crafted a highly concentrated probiotic whole food derived from diverse vegetable, fruit, herb, and mushroom super foods. The concentrated whole food nutrients are in there. So are the fermentation byproducts. It’s that fermented whole food form that the body knows and needs.*
In a typical modern lifestyle, it’s likely we can’t turn back the clock and get 30% of our daily diet from fermented foods. But we can make small choices to include a few more fermented foods in our diet each week. And then take Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics® on a daily basis for the added support we need to get back to a state of probiotic balance.*
This material inspired by a Natural Foods Merchandiser presentation by Alan Logan, ND; February 2016.