January 2, 2023

Fermented foods

Question:

Lauren, in a recent post, you said, “Occasionally, we might input a foreign bacteria – for example when eating rotten foods (aka fermented foods)” Why, I wonder, would people (so so many years ago) have “created” fermented foods, with the purpose of “helping” their health/digestion…. and now, there are many many people (including myself, until I discovered this list who are making kombucha, sourdough bread, kefir, all for the benefit of their health and healing their gut microbiome. I would love love to read any medical journals/research studies that have shown that these fermented foods (sort of funny to me that you called them rotten foods, b/c, well, alas, yes, I agree – they are in fact “rotted”) have been shown to actually support/help one’s health/gut microbiome… and of course, how would it even be “measured” as to whether or not these fermented/rotted foods are helping, or that they are not helping, or even harming.

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Terrain answer:

It would be interesting if there were any. I’d like to see what they have to say. The ones I have seen basically assume that because we have bacteria in our digestive tract that it’s good to supply more. It’s the usual more is a better fallacy. Just like when they say cooked tomatoes are better because they have more lycopene. Well, more lycopene does not make something healthy it just makes it have more bioavailable lycopene. But cooking tomatoes destroys the enzymes and vitamin C. More is less. The same logic sadly carries people into thinking rotting food is beneficial. More bacteria do not equal the right bacteria. More cabbage bacteria does not equal human bacteria.
Then they also ignore the fact that in order to make rotted food it must be doused in salt, which is a biocide. Salt has a lethal dosage of about 3.5 tablespoons for the average 150-pound person. In smaller quantities, it kills many cells and causes damage all around our bodies.
People started to preserve rotten foods with salt during times of siege. It was a survival tactic, not a health practice. Before there were refrigerators people needed ways to preserve food when they did not have a ready supply of fresh foods. Unfortunately, this practice caught on before people understood the health damage that resulted from it.
Another reason people believe that fermented foods help digestion is because they create diarrhea. When people are chronically severely constipated from eating animal tissues diarrhea mixed with severe constipation simply makes people have semi-normal stools. So those people with constipation think they are “getting regular” as the Activia commercial says, when in fact they are just getting diarrhea to push out their constipation.

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