This excerpt is from our new book “Cultured: Learn to Make Fermented Foods at Home” which contains over 70+ fermented food recipes. Click here to learn more!
Your experience with inflammation probably hasn’t been a pleasant one, be it a bruised swollen toe or inflamed gums. What you probably don’t realize is that this is a beneficial reaction your body uses to respond to infection or injury; it’s a natural healing process that we should be thankful for.
Too much of a good thing is often bad for you, however, and this is certainly the case with inflammation. Many people live with chronic low-grade inflammation throughout their body, and increasing studies such a recent one done by Virginia Tech show that this can lead to the cause of many health conditions such as health disease, diabetes and arthritis. According to the university’s research, some of the main inflammatory agents in the body are bacteria called microbial endotoxin, and they have been found in mildly elevated levels in the systems of many patients with major diseases. 
Fermented foods are strong weapons in the fight against inflammation due to their ability to help rebuild your immune system, thus reducing the strength of the minor infections that keep the inflammation in your body at a sustained level. Furthermore, the beneficial bacteria that find their way into your gut through fermented foods are able to displace and destroy the microscopic, harmful bacteria that your body may constantly be at war with, a fight that makes you more susceptible to diseases of all sorts.
Fermented Foods Create B Vitamins
If you take a daily multivitamin, take a quick look at the back of the bottle. You’ll notice that there isn’t just one B vitamin, but several. Here’s the whole gang, as well as their individual specialties:
- Thiamine (B1) aids the body in producing energy and stimulates the enzymes that affect the nerves, heart and muscles.
- Riboflavin (B2) functions much the same as Thiamine.
- Niacin (B3) also produces energy for the body and plays a major role in skin and digestive health, in addition to promoting a properly functioning nervous system.
- Pantothenic acid (B5) is necessary for growth and development.
- Pyridoxine (B6) aids maintenance of healthy red blood cells, the nervous system and sections of the immune system. It also helps to break down protein.
- Biotin (B7), like B6, helps to break down protein as well as carbohydrates and aids in the production of hormones.
- Folic acid (B9) helps the cells in the body make and maintain DNA and is essential for the production of red blood cells.
- Cobalamin (B12) regulates how the body uses folic acid and carbohydrates, and is critical for growth, the production of red blood cells, and the healthy functioning of the body’s nervous system.
In short, they’re absolutely essential for a healthy body.
You can find B vitamins in foods such as spinach, eggs and many types of peas and beans, but they’re especially abundant in fermented foods, forming as the healthy microbes that are present begin to mature. As if that wasn’t fantastic enough, these microbial cultures, once present in the gut, spur on the body to naturally produce its own stock of B vitamins.
Bet your multivitamin can’t do that.
As it stands, pill form is not the best way to get any kind of vitamin. Although multivitamins aren’t useless, they’re inefficient, presenting vitamins as mere chemicals, typically in limited amounts. The body is used to recognizing vitamins as constituent parts of whole foods, ‘prepackaged’ with enzymes and nutrients that help them to get to work in your body correctly.
As such, it’s always preferable to make sure you’re eating a diet full of healthy, whole foods that provide you with the many different types of vitamins you need.
With this being the case, what better way to do so than through fermented foods? Not only do they contain the vitamins you need, they practically turn you into a B vitamin factory!
Fermented Foods Encourage Protein Absorption and the Delivery and Creation of Amino Acids
Everybody’s heard of amino acids, but few people know how they truly work. They’re some of the body’s secret weapons, essential building blocks in the creation of every animal that has ever walked the face of the earth – including us humans. They really don’t get enough credit.
What does get a lot of attention is protein, in all its myriad forms. Proteins are absolutely necessary, but not in the way that most people think they are. We have the fitness industry to thank for the widespread appreciation of a protein-rich diet, but there’s still a basic misunderstanding in the general public about just why proteins are so essential.
Proteins do help your body build muscle and repair itself on a daily basis, but it’s an intricate process. Proteins are actually constructed from amino acids. When digested they’re broken back down into amino acids, which are then whisked away to the parts of the body where they’re needed… which is everywhere!
- Amino acids are responsible for the production of neurotransmitters which regulate brain function and various aspects of your mental health.
- Amino acids are essential for the production and maintenance of many different types of tissues, glands, hormones and enzymes in your body.
- Amino acids are responsible for the construction of blood protein, and the reconstitution of protein throughout the body.
- Amino Acids serve as a source of energy for the body.
There are 23 amino acids in all, eight of which are essential. This is a bit of a misleading term, as it’s used to denote the fact that we can only get these amino acids from a food source. The remaining 15 are absolutely necessary as well, however, but will be produced by our body provided you are receiving a steady dose of essential amino acids.
So where do fermented foods come into the picture?
One of the great benefits of fermented foods is that they are “pre-digested”, meaning our body doesn’t have to expend any energy breaking them down to unlock the goodness contained within. For people who may have a compromised digestive system, digesting proteins can be problematic as their microflora are not diverse or strong enough to break down the proteins they eat in order to receive the amino acids they need. For these people, fermented foods are a godsend as they allow them to absorb protein, and ultimately amino acids – as well as other nutrients – very, very easily. Even if your digestion is functioning pretty well, fermented foods still provide the benefit of sparing your body the energy intensive task of extracting amino acids from your meals. They’re just there and ready to go.
I want to know your thoughts: Have you had any issues with inflammation in the past?
 “Biologist studies possible link between chronic low-grade inflammation, major diseases.” Virginia Tech