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Eating to improve your intestinal flora: Consumption of Fermented Foods

Eating to improve your intestinal flora:
Consumption of Fermented Foods

Oftentimes, we consume fermented products without even realizing it, including yogurt and certain types of cheeses (Gruyère, Emmental, Beaufort, Comté). For the last few years, we have witnessed a multitude of yogurt campaigns promoting healthy intestinal bacteria, as well as the probiotic supplement craze that certain people experienced. This is perhaps due to the fact that more and more studies have shown the benefits of eating fermented products with regards to improving gastrointestinal flora (microbiota), which could be linked to overall enhanced health. For example: someone who is obese, has unhealthy bacteria in their intestinal flora; compared to somebody of a normal body weight who possesses good intestinal flora.

There have even been researchers in Holland and Finland who have studied fecal transplants from a healthy patient to someone with recurring intestinal issues, in order to improve their microbiome. This study proved notable progress with regards to the patients’ microbiome as well as the resolution of their previous gastro-intestinal complications.

In any case, the consumption of fermented products in the Western World, not just limited to dairy based foods, have been a rising health trend that people have been following in order to improve their gut bacteria. However, if you look at certain areas of Asia, such as Japan and Korea, individuals have been eating fermented foods as a part of their daily diet for a long time, which has often led to theories and explanations as to why the Japanese population has a longer lifespan.

The following is a list of non dairy based fermented products:

  • Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean sidedish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. There are hundreds of types of kimchi made from Napa cabbage, carrots, radish, scallion, red pepper, white onion, shrimp, ginger, or cucumber as a main ingredient. We tend to associate kimchi to fermented Chinese cabbage with a mixture of red pepper, garlic, ginger, and salty fish sauce. However, there are different types of kimchi such as kaktugi, which is made with radishes and l’oisobagi, stuffed cucumber as a base. Kaennipse is made with layers of marinated perilla in a soy sauce mixture, including peppers, garlic, green onion, and other spices.
  • Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis var. natto. It is typically served with soy sauce, karashimustard and welsh onion.
  • Miso is a traditionalJapanese seasoning made from fermenting soybeans with salt and a fungus known as Koji. The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup. High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, Miso is typically salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process (between a few weeks up to 3 years). Miso has an even saltier than some blue cheeses and can be used in the following cases:

                        – Seasoning or stock for soups

                        – Base for sauces

                        – Element used in meal preparation

                        – Condiment

  • Tempeh: Tempeh is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. Tempeh has a taste reminiscent of mushroom, nut and yeast flavours. It is rich in vegetable protein and low in fat. Tempeh is generally sliced and fried ​until its surface becomes crispy. It can also be prepared in the same way as tofu. After being chopped and browned, it may be used in the making of sauces (vegetarian Bolognese sauce).
  • Soy sauce: Soy sauce is a condiment of Chinese origin, produced by the fermentation of plant protein, it posses aromas similar to meat. It is traditionally made ​​from soybeans in China and Korea, and from a mixture of soy and wheat in Japan. It is created thanks to the release of enzymes emanating from a mold called Aspergillus oryzae, which hydrolyzes the ingredients followed by a powerful fermentation caused by lactic acid bacteria and yeasts…Soy sauce is a dark reddish brown amber liquid and rich in free amino acids. It has a strong and salty flavour and is a popular seasoning that allows the enhancement of white rice or for marinating meat and fish before grilling. It is considered an essential condiment in Eastern Asian cuisine.

This year at the biennial ANUGA food fair in Köln, Germany, I visited several Japanese kiosks, and had the chance to discover new and fascinating products such as kabosu, sake, and Wagyu beef. However, only one of them really caught my attention due to its uniqueness; black garlic. Originally from Korea, black garlic was developed as a health product and is still prized as being elevated in antioxidants. In Thailand it is even claimed to increase the consumer’s longevity.

The garlic becomes black due to a caramelization process called the Maillard reaction, by heating the bulbs during several weeks, which results in a black colour. Black garlic is mistakenly referred to as being fermented, but since there is no microbial metabolism, this is technically incorrect. Rather, the color, flavour and texture of black garlic are due to enzymatic breakdown, from the slow conversion of the natural sugars in the garlic over time.

Here are some of the health benefits that have been associated to the consumption of black garlic:

  • Cancer Protection
  • Cholesterol Benefits
  • Infection Protection
  • Disease Protection

Black garlic has hints of balsamic vinegar, which progresses into an umami taste that is simultaneously sweet and savory. Black garlic is available as whole cloves, dried, and as a paste. It can be consumed in a raw or cooked form, and can be eaten on its own or in different dishes. It can be a good ingredient for stock, and provides and great base for sauces. In North America, this originally Asian food item has become more and more used in high end cuisine.

The following is a list of ways black garlic is used in high end cuisine by different chefs around the world:

  • Black garlic added to terrines with pork or chicken liver
  • Black garlic deviled eggs
  • Savory black garlic ice cream
  • Black garlic confit that is then used as a sauce or purée for fish.
  • Black garlic aioli used in steak sandwiches
  • Black garlic hoisin sauce to put on roasted meats such as chicken, duck, or pork
  • Black garlic with lamb, yogurt, or shellfish dishes that have dairy in them
  • A vinaigrette for mushrooms with black garlic, sherry vinegar, a little soy, oil, some Dijon mustard
  • Black garlic with mushroom salad and strawberries or raspberries

We were already aware of the anti-cancer properties garlic possessed and that were recently put forth by Professor Khayat in his latest book “Preventing cancer, it also depends on you “. Reginald Allouche, a nutritionist and medical doctor, gave a lecture at the Tenon Hospital in Paris regarding alternatives and complementary Medicine, speculating that individuals of the Southwest of France would certainly have more health benefits consuming garlic rather than goose fat. Black garlic could potentially take this further…










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