How Cheese is Good for You

cheeseIf you are a turophile (cheese lover), good news! If you have turophobia (fear of cheese), get over it! It turns out that cheese is actually good for you. We were steered wrong. Sacré bleu!

I have written about why we need to eat more fermented foods and natural cheese is a perfect example. Natural cheese, especially the part right under the rind, is full of probiotic bacteria essential to good health.

So far, we know that research subjects who ate natural cheese produced more butyrates, short-chain fatty acids that literally feed the cells lining the colon. Butyrates create an environment that suppress inflammation in the colon and that may help conditions like ulcerative colitis and colon cancer. In addition, 70% of our immunoglobin cells are made in the colon and they act all throughout the body. Studies show that butyrates created by eating cheese enhanced natural and acquired immunity. (Acquired immunity is when antibodies develop in response to exposure to an infectious disease or through vaccination.) More butyrate was also associated with a reduction of “bad” serum cholesterol. It seems like good gut bacteria was more important than saturated fat.

Read about the healthy bacteria in cheese in Science Daily:

Your thoughts: Does your life include enough cheese?

The Fascinating History of Beer

Beer has a fundamental role in the history of civilization. I wrote about it for Calorie Count a few years ago after hearing the story from a friend, a technical kind of guy who remembers every detail and then relates it back. You’ve been there; still, it was captivating. I’ve already made The Case for Fermented Foods, the essence of decomposition and metamorphosis and so, all of life. Nowadays, my daughter’s boyfriend brews beer and mead in bubbling cauldrons in their Brooklyn apartment. Stay tuned for more about that. The definitive guide to beer history is A History of Beer and Brewing by Ian Hornsey. I’ve condensed it here to a one minute read.

The History of Beer, Condensed

  • Around the world, prehistoric man discovers fermentation by chance occurrence as decaying fruit mixes with yeast, molds and bacteria in the air to produce alcohol.
  • 12,000 BC: Nomadic hunters and gatherers settle down to farm grain (presumably to make beer because bread-baking is unknown)
  • 7,000 BC: Brewing (i.e. intentionally making beer from grain or bread) is practiced in Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Israel, China, and South America.
  • 500 BC – 500 CE: Wine takes over as the preferred drink in the Western world.  Beer is for peasants.

Continue reading about The Fascinating History of Beer….

You thoughts: Are you a beer fan?

The Case for Fermented Foods

I am convinced that we should be eating more fermented food. I mean, how could humankind eat fermented food for 10,000+ years and then stop in one generation? And now probiotic pills and food additives are supposed to fill the gap?  Gimme a break! Eat fermented food.

Fermentation is an ancient method of preserving food that predates recorded time. Fermentation introduces essential microorganisms into food and then into the GI tract. During food fermentation, bacteria or yeasts break down carbohydrates into easy-to-digest carbon dioxide, alcohols and organic acids. When the living bacteria enter our bodies and reproduce, they become our intestinal flora. (I call it my internal compose pile.) In the gut, the bacteria digest food to make it more absorbable. For example, fermentation changes indigestible lactose into digestible lactic acid, and in grains, fermentation destroys phytic acid, a substance that blocks the absorption of calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. The bacteria in the gut actually produce nutrients as the food is digested; B-vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids are synthesized during the fermentation process. And in addition to their digestive benefits, the bacteria confer primary immunity all throughout the body.

Any Food Can Be Fermented

Familiar fermented foods include brined vegetables, like sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers, beets, onions and garlic, kimchi, capers, and olives, and pickled meats, fish and eggs; dairy ferments, such as yogurt, cheese, kefir, sour cream, and buttermilk; the bean ferments, miso and tempeh; fermented grain products, including beer and porridge; fruit juices fermented to wine, cider and vinegar; honey mead and the fermented tea kombucha – plus, all sorts of foods that we’ve never heard of from faraway places. To get the benefits, fermented foods should not be pasteurized.

Fermented Foods ARE Prebiotics

Read this powerful 2007 statement from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in their Report of the FAO Technical Meeting on PREBIOTICS:

“…Modern day humans do not ingest sufficient quantities of lactic acid bacteria or their growth stimulants including non-digestible carbohydrates. In addition, there is a growing recognition that events taking place in the intestine and influenced by microbes, have major consequences for human health.”

What About Sodium?

But Mary, you might say, “What about the salt in fermented food?” Well, fresh food has very little salt, and about 75 percent or more of the sodium in the American diet is added by the food manufacturer. There is sodium benzoate, sodium propionate, sodium nitrate, and 50 other sodium-based additives, not counting sodium chloride, table salt, in processed food. If we didn’t eat processed food, then we’d have room for the sodium in fermented food.

Your thoughts: Do you eat fermented foods?  Do you plan to start?