Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fermented foods and Raw

I received an email from someone today asking whether fermented foods are part of a raw food diet and, if so, are they beneficial? Rather than send her a lengthy email and then regurgitate (possibly not the best choice of words) the information for someone else down the line I decided to address the topic in my blog.

First of all it depends on who you ask but isn't that always the case? So before we go any further I will refer you to the best nutritionist I know - you. Always check in with your body. The more raw food you eat the stronger your intuitive knowing will become. I am really starting to experience this myself and have heard it expressed many times from long-term raw foodists.

Now, having said that, here is my response. Fermented foods, so long as they are not the store-bought, pasteurized variety are considered raw. Many health food stores sell specifically raw saurekraut and other fermented foods (just look for "raw" on the label). Fermented foods have many health benefits.

Fermented foods have a very high level of enzyme activity. Enzymes aid in the digestion, assimilation, absorption and elimination of foods as well as one's metabolic activity. Cooked foods destroy enzymes and although a much healthier alternative, freezing foods still kill off 30-66% of the enzymes (The Sunfood Diet Success System by David Wolfe). Fermented food, on the other hand, not only increases enzyme activity but also contributes valuable intestinal flora to the colon, bowel and digestive tract.

Dr. Ann Wigmore, creator of the Living Foods Lifestyle was a strong advocate of fermented foods and they play a large role in her programs at the Ann Wigmore Institute and Hippocrates Institute. Many people recommend fermented foods when looking to speed up the healing process because of the large number of enzymes present and the beneficial intestinal flora.

Some types of fermented foods eaten by raw food folks are: seed cheeses, kefir, and sauerkraut. My husband is actually in the middle of making homemade sauerkraut with our green cabbage. (I pity the person who descends into the basement - the smell is not for the faint of heart). Tomorrow I'll pass on his recipe and a few pics.

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