by Sayer Ji
April 6, 2012
from GreenMedInfo Website
Between the hard and fast dichotomies of cooked and raw, dead and alive, is this beautiful thing called fermented.
A place where many of the digestive challenges associated with raw foods (e.g. enzyme inhibitors, antinutrients, lectins) are overcome in favor of not just preserving their benefits (e.g. enzyme activity, vitamin content, life energy), but amplifying them.
Also overcome are the adverse consequences of cooking, e.g. enzyme destruction, vitamin activity degradation, oxidized fats, denatured proteins, etc., while still benefiting from the enhanced digestibility and assimilation that certain cooking applications offer.
Fermented food is in many ways the
complementary union of cooked and raw, as well as their
transcendence - an image, not unlike the Tai Chi, comes to mind.
In fact, fermentation has almost
heretical power in the realm of both medicine and nutrition, being
quite capable of literally "raising the dead," as well, revitalizing
and infusing with living and breathing energy a food ingredient that
has been cooked into oblivion, or, a human whose body has been
poisoned close to the point of death with antibiotics, or similarly
biocidal drugs or chemicals.
In fact, one could consider fermented foods like,
...and even - in moderation,
...‘medical foods’ of sorts.
We have been indexing these functional
applications in disease prevention and treatment straight from the
research housed on National Library of Medicine, and have found over
140+ diseases that may be prevented or ameliorated by their use.
But for this short article we will focus on Asian traditional preparations, since there is already such a huge body of clinical research demonstrating their amazing health effects:
This is, of course, only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to illustrating the remarkable properties of fermented food.
We encourage our readers to take a look
at our extensive database on the subject of the health benefits of
There is something known as the food metabolome. It is that set of small-molecule metabolites of foods - numbering over 3,500 - that are byproducts of our organism interacting with food to produce novel new byproducts.
For example, flaxseed contains high levels of lignans, which once thrown into the fermentive crucible of our digestive process, are broken down into at least two important metabolic byproducts: enterolactone and enterodiol - both which are phytoestrogens, and are largely responsible for flaxseed’s tumor regressive actions in estrogen sensitive cancers such as breast and prostate cancer.
These two compounds only exist in between the human organism and the flaxseed organism, and would not exist without the “third organism,” if you will, which is the vast populations of beneficial bacteria within our alimentary canal.
So important are these microflora to our
existence, that some scholars have suggested we reclassify ourselves
as a “meta-organism,” as we are a composite of a wide range of
organisms - in fact, 10 times more numerous are these “other”
organisms than our own cells. Indeed, as we discussed in a previous
article, even our own mitochondria - the powerhouses of our cells -
were once bacteria living outside of our bodies.
There are profound challenges that stand in our way, of course. The modern world nukes its food, yes, with literal nuclear waste. We microwave, we cook, we fry, we dehydrate, we spray our food into certain death. And now new research shows that even the very food starter bacteria normally found within healthy soil are being decimated by Monsanto’s ROUNDUP herbicide glyphosate, which is destroying its microbial biodiversity and hence fertility.
Certain regions of the world that have
depended on these indispensable dairy-culturing organisms for
countless generations now have none to be found.
And furthermore, that one cannot
separate out personal or human health from planetary health; they
are, and always have been indivisible.