For the same product, there can be different values
The website "Ekomedicine" introduces fermentation as a new topic, although it is an ancient technique widely used by ancestors. Despite the lack of modern storage methods, fermentation was common. The chemical food industry has largely overlooked this method, possibly because pickling and adding preservatives are more economically viable. This field is now pursued by enthusiasts, including bloggers on social media offering a wide range of recipes, often guided by intuition, though incorporating biochemical and medical aspects could enhance outcomes. In Latvian media, Baiba Rudoviča stands out as a leading blogger on fermentation, sharing a diverse recipe collection.

The preparation and presentation of a product can drastically change its biochemical properties. From a biochemical and health perspective, fermentation, alongside souring and raw consumption, is a leading preparation method, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Fermentation differs from souring as it occurs in an anaerobic environment, similar to the gut, using similar bacteria. Essentially, the process replicates in a container what happens in the gut, resulting in a product ready for assimilation.

For example, table beets can be consumed in various forms: raw in salads, marinated, boiled, baked, dried, frozen, soured, and fermented. Factors like soil mineral content, cultivation methods, and storage conditions can significantly impact the product's value. Whether mass media dietitians and medics adequately address these factors remains a question.

Sauerkraut has been a staple food since ancient times, rich in minerals and nutrients beneficial to many body systems. Properly prepared sauerkraut contains a high amount of vitamin C due to fermentation by symbiotic bacteria, which also produce essential amino and fatty acids. It's a simple source of vitamin K1, which, with the help of good bacteria in the gut, converts to K2, promoting calcium retention in soft tissues and bones and supporting cellular mitochondrial function. Sauerkraut also contains vitamin U (S-methylmethionine), crucial for gastrointestinal health, preventing inflammation, ulcers, and gas, and aiding in the management of non-specific ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and overeating by producing the satiety hormone leptin. Its lactic acid acts as an antiseptic, preventing infections, while acetylcholine is necessary for pancreatic enzyme production and good bowel peristalsis. A 100g serving of sauerkraut meets the daily sulfur requirement, important for preventing saggy skin. If made without salt and sugar, it can help normalize high blood pressure and reduce the risk of breast and gastrointestinal cancers, thanks to the high content of glucosinolates, which minimize DNA damage in the cancer development process.

When fermenting sauerkraut, adding horseradish, cranberries, and lingonberries is beneficial, but sugar, salt, citric acid, and acetic acid should be avoided. Oils, preferably flaxseed, hemp, or sesame, should be added before consumption.

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What is fermentation?
Fermentation is a process in which microorganisms modify the functional and organoleptic properties of food products, affecting their appearance, color, taste, and smell to stimulate human sensory organs.

During fermentation, bacteria and fungi produce enzymes that create new products with altered taste, smell, and nutritional value, resulting in improved microstability and safety. Fermented products contain nutrients not available in fresh and unfermented products.

Biochemically, fermentation is a metabolic process generating energy from organic compounds, converting carbohydrates like starch and glucose into alcohol and organic acids. The fermentation process depends on the correct balance of temperature, humidity, and oxygen, including three processes:

    oxidation in the presence of oxygen,

    fermentation in an anaerobic environment due to microorganisms or their enzymes,

    changes due to the action of the product's own enzymes.

Fermentation preserves products by forming inhibitory metabolites like carbon dioxide, bacteriocins, diacetyl, reuterin, ethanol, and organic acids. Product safety can be enhanced by reducing water content, drying, adding salt, removing toxic compounds, and inhibiting pathogens. Fermentation not only enhances organoleptic properties and nutritional value but also makes products easier to assimilate by breaking down complex chemical compounds into simpler elements.

The most well-known product associated with fermentation for many is sauerkraut. Interestingly, in the 18th century, the English sailor James Cook circumnavigated the globe, thanks in part to sauerkraut, which was a solution to scurvy—a disease linked to vitamin C deficiency among sailors. Sauerkraut, being an excellent source of this vitamin, proved to be a lifesaver.

However, fermentation is not limited to sauerkraut. Nearly all vegetables can be fermented. In fact, a third of the products we use daily have undergone fermentation at some stage of their preparation, enhancing specific flavor properties and extending shelf life.

Fermentation includes processes like pickling, brewing, and fermenting (as in beer). A product is considered fermented if it has been prepared without heating, pasteurization, added sugars, industrially produced vinegar, or various preservatives.

Through fermentation, carbohydrates and sugars are converted into organic acids by bacteria and fungi. This process allows lactobacilli to proliferate, enabling the long-term storage of the product. Fermented products are easier for the body to assimilate and introduce new biologically active substances.

Bee bread, essentially fermented pollen, is another example of a fermented product, created by bees without human intervention.


Butyrate significantly improves nutrient assimilation.
Butyrate is an important metabolite in the gut, produced through lactic acid fermentation and involved in the metabolism of gut epithelial microorganisms. Unfermented vegetables do not contain butyrate.

Fresh carrot juice is sweet, but its storage time is just over one day. Through fermentation, the sugar content decreases by nearly half, making the juice less sweet and not increasing blood sugar levels. The amount of biologically active substances, such as carotenoids and vitamins, increases in fermented juice, as well as its shelf life - up to more than a month. Lactic acid fermentation produces organic compounds like lactates, propionates, acetates, and butyrate, which can be derived from almost all vegetables only in this process. Butyrate acts as a lubricant and promotes intestinal peristalsis, improving nutrient assimilation. It makes a person more energetic and optimistic.

During fermentation, lactic acid bacteria produce antimicrobial compounds and create an acidic pH environment, thus extending the product's shelf life. Achieving acidity at pH 4.5 inhibits pathogenic microorganisms, such as the botulinum spore (Lat. Clostridium botulinum). Adding 2% saline solution during the preparation of the fermenting product prevents the formation of acetone and the proliferation of pathogenic microflora until the product reaches a pH of 4.5.