Fermented food and diabetes


the 1950s, marketing has turned bacteria

into a universal evil to be killed off at all

cost. However, due to recent research

into the microbiome, we are beginning to

understand the positive impact of our gut

bacteria on all sorts of diseases.

Healthy digestion is clearly linked to

a healthy gut, particularly the range and

breadth of our gut bacteria. We are also

beginning to link the increase in allergies

to a decline in our gut bacteria, and early

exposure to various pathogens.

Fermented foods have been part of

our diet for millennia and we may just find

out, in time, that they are a necessary

element that we have reduced too far.

Fermentation should not be just another

passing fad. The acceleration of the

pace of our lives, what can be viewed

as a slow decline of our cultures and

communities, as well as the rise in mental

health problems in society has led some

of us to reflect on past times. A particular

movement that has emerged from this

is Slow Food. And what, we ask you, is

slower than fermentation?

The fact is that we should reduce

our dependence on sugary and

salty foods, processed fats and low

glycemic index carbohydrates, learn

to love straightforward fruits and green

vegetables, raw or lightly-cooked and

unadulterated, and aim to eat free-range

meats; dairy and eggs. Why not spice

all of that up with a big dollop of kimchi

or sauerkraut, or accompany it with a

fermented drink like one of those from

Real Kombucha, which is naturally low in

sugar and alcohol.

Real Kombucha's Dry Dragon is

brewed from Dragonwell, a pan-roasted

green tea from Zhejiang Province in China,

while Smoke House is brewed from a

black tea from Yunnan Province and has

an apple and caramel undertone and has

a warm golden colour. Best-selling Royal

Flush is brewed from fragrant Darjeeling

teas with notes of rose, vanilla and quince

and should be served very cold.




Writing for American website dLife,

Elizabeth Keyser looked at the effect of

fermented foods on blood sugar control,

"Foods that have been fermented deliver

umami, and they also have unique

health benefits, especially for people

with diabetes. Fermentation is one of

the oldest methods of preserving food.

It's what transforms milk into yogurt;

cabbage into sauerkraut and Korean

kimchi; soybeans into miso; and fruit into

vinegar. The best part is that research

shows that these foods are good for your

blood sugar levels. The acids in fermented

foods-lactic and acetic acid-interfere

with carbohydrates' turning into blood

sugar, thereby reducing spikes."

One of the best and easiest things you

can do for your health is to eat one cup

of full-fat yogurt a day. (Whole milk yogurt

has 11 grams of carbs versus more than

17 in low-fat.) Along with being a great

source of protein and calcium, yogurt

comes with myriad health benefits, thanks

to the friendly bacteria produced during

fermentation. Buy plain yogurt that says it

has "live, active cultures" or is "probiotic."

Check the fine print for Lactobacillus

casei, L. acidophilus, and bifidus.

Sauerkraut is a Northern European

dish made from shredded cabbage

fermented with salt at a low temperature

in a covered jar. The salt draws out liquids,

creating brine that keeps the cabbage

in an oxygen-free environment. There,

beneficial bacteria transform it into a tart

and healthy side dish that makes a tasty

companion to rich meats, like sausages.

Kimchi, the Korean dish, is made

from whole cabbage leaves fermented

with salt, garlic, hot pepper, and fish

sauce (a fermented condiment made

from anchovies). Spicy, garlicky, and

sometimes fizzy, kimchi goes well with

grilled beef.



Olives, which are too bitter to eat right

from the tree, are made edible and savory

by soaking in lye and fermenting in salt

brine. A bowl of olives is an easy addition

to a platter of appetizers. Or buy a jar of

tapenade-this chopped olive spread is

great with raw vegetables.

Asian cultures use fermentation to

transform soybeans into foods like soy

sauce and miso. Japanese in origin, miso

is a paste made by fermenting soybeans

(or sometimes barley or rice) in a twostep process

that converts the beans'

carbohydrates into lactic acids. Rich,

roasty-flavored miso can be used in salad

dressings or marinades, but one of the

tastiest ways to enjoy it is in miso soup.

Vinegar is fermented alcohol. It can be

made from pure alcohol (white vinegar),

wine (red wine vinegar), rice (rice wine

vinegar), malted barley (malt vinegar), or

fruit (apple cider vinegar, for example).

Vinegar is created when bacteria causes

alcohol to convert into acetic acid. The

health benefits of vinegar were heralded

even before the ancient Romans, who

drank it mixed with water and honey. Use

vinegar in dressings and marinades, or

drink it diluted as a tonic.


See our regular


COUNT feature

for more on the

health benefits of

cooking with kefir, a

fermented food made

from milk. P.


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