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Home / Why You Need to Eat Non Dairy Fermented Foods Every Day

Why You Need to Eat Non Dairy Fermented Foods Every Day

Do you eat non dairy fermented foods? Do you eat them every single day? Probably not. We talk about the benefits of non dairy fermented foods in our Clean Cuisine book on page 277, but my mom suggested we talk more about them on the blog than we have done in the past. So here you go mom! 
non dairy fermented foods

What is Fermentation?

Not only is fermentation an age-old process, but it is actually the oldest method of storage and preservation of foods. Eons ago, before electricity was harnessed and refrigeration became ubiquitous, people relied on various methods of preservation, one of the most important being fermentation. But as small farming led to large scale farming, along the way most families dropped the chore of preparing non dairy fermented foods in their homes. They also stopped eating these foods as part of their daily diet. And because the scientific community didn’t really understand the real health benefits to fermentation, the whole concept became more or less outdated. 

Until now.

Non-dairy fermented foods are making a BIG comeback. Not only are foodies falling in love with their signature tang (a wee bit sour and a smidgen savory), nutritionists and doctors are praising their incredible whole body and gut health benefits.

But what exactly is fermentation?  Biologists call it the anaerobic metabolizing of sugars.  There is a broader definition, as described by Sandor Katz, of Liberty Tennessee: “the transformation of food by various bacteria, fungi and the enzymes they produce.”  Breads undergo a fermentation process  but the good microbes are dead via baking, by the time consumer gets them.  That’s because heat kills probiotics. Live fermentation is a totally different story. 
non dairy fermented foods 2

“Alive” Food

Pasteurization, and the process of killing bacteria has been helpful in reducing the transmission of diseases (such as typhoid fever, tuberculosis, scarlet fever, polio, and dysentery), but it has led people to believe all bacteria is bad.  Not so.

We now know good bacteria are a critical component to enjoying great health. The fermentation process generates an important source of friendly, health-giving good bacteria. We need this good bacteria in our guts to fight off the harmful bacteria, restore the balance of our immune system and help our body to work at its best. The “good bacteria” are called probiotics, which literally means “for life”, because of the incredible health promoting job they do. (You can read more about the benefits of probiotics HERE.

Allowing bacteria to form in a sealed jar of vegetables over a few months might not seem like the most appealing way to create an appetizing dish, but fermentation really has a lot going for it. Just ask the Koreans and Japanese, who have been fermenting vegetables and beans for generations. They even ferment their fish!

By shredding, salting (i.e. brining) and packing cabbage in jars, cabbage will last more or less indefinitely and develop an incredibly delicious tangy flavor along with LOTS of beneficial good bacteria. Unpasteurized fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha have trillions of live good bacteria that scientists now realize play a major role in promoting good health. 

Benefits of Non Dairy Fermented FoodsHealth Benefits of Non Dairy Fermented Foods 

The good bacteria in non dairy fermented foods absolutely improve gut health, aid in digestion and support a healthy immune system. But did you also know they can help you manage your weight and even improve your mood? And for someone who has a neurological disorder like me (if you don’t know my story, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998 at the age of 22), the benefits of probiotics on brain health are especially intriguing. My former neurologist and four-time NY Times bestselling author, Dr. David Perlmutter (who wrote the forward to our first book, by the way), talks a great deal about the benefits of probiotics in his book, “Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain for Life.” 

More Probiotic Perks

What’s more, the probiotics in non-dairy fermented foods help to make the foods you eat more nutritious. How so? Probiotic-rich foods enhance digestion and absorption. For example, eating probiotic rich kimchi or sauerkraut can increase the availability of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as vitamins from the B-complex group.

Probiotic rich foods also help decrease inflammation and there is some research showing they may even help protect against certain types of cancer.

Non Dairy Fermented Foods to Start Eating Today!

Beyond yogurt, here’s a list of some of the incredibly healthy fermented foods that need to be on your radar (and in your stomach!) Starting today. Ideally you would eat one non-dairy fermented food with every meal. I realize that’s a bit much to ask though (and even I don’t do that), however I do make it a point to eat one serving of one of these foods every single day.
  • REAL unpasteurized Sauerkraut
  • Pickled carrots
  • Pickled beets 
  • Pickled cucumbers (yup, good old pickles!! But they have to be REAL pickles in order to get the probiotic benefits.)
  • Kombucha (Here is a blog post I did on the health benefits specific to Kombucha)
  • Miso 
  • Nama Shoyu (this is an unpasteurized soy sauce)
  • Tempeh (originally from Indonesia, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans. It has a slightly mushroomy taste and makes a great substitute for meat. We eat it a lot on Meat Free Mondays!)
  • Kimchi
  • Coconut Kefir 
  • Natto (Made from fermented soybeans, Natto contains the extremely powerful probiotic Bacillus subtilis.)
***You can read more about these foods in the Clean Cuisine Challenge Day 23: Non Dairy Foods Rich in Probiotics ***

How to Make Your Own Non Dairy Fermented Foods 

Fermented Vegetables

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The foods listed above can all be easily bought at any well-stocked natural foods store. However, if you really want to get serious about things, you can certainly make your own non-dairy fermented foods. There are many DIY articles online, but I think these articles by three different bloggers below are the most comprehensive and easiest to follow.

Resources for How to Make Your Own Non Dairy Fermented Foods at Home:

How to Ferment Vegetables on the “Running to the Kitchen” blog

Natural Fermentation and How to Ferment Vegetables on the “Cultures for Health” blog

Fermenting Vegetables by Sarah Wilson

There are also plenty of books on the subject, but “Fermented Vegetables” (see photo) is my favorite.

One of my biggest food philosophies is that it is SO much easier from a psychological standpoint to make an effort to add nutrient rich foods to your diet rather than to obsess over all of the unhealthy foods you shouldn’t eat. I have LOTS of foods on my must-try-to-eat-each-day list and non dairy fermented foods are definitely on the list! I started adding them to my diet about 5 years ago and although initially I wasn’t super crazy about their tangy flavor, I now crave it. They definitely grow on you! And the more variety you get the better. That’s because not only do you want to consume a lot of probiotic rich foods, to really reap the maximum benefits you also want a lot of diversity.

 P.S. If you have a non-dairy fermented food that you love please tell us all about it in the comments below…

Ivy Larson

In 2010, Clean Cuisine was launched because Ivy Larson wanted to share her anti-inflammatory lifestyle and delicious recipes using ingredients in their most natural and nutrient-rich state. In 2020, Ivy passed the website to Aimee and Madison. Since then, they have been adding new recipes and nutrition posts while updating old recipes and articles. Thanks for visiting Clean Cuisine!

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Carol Drali

Tuesday 20th of February 2018

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 1 month after I turned 50. My was is 96 and had it since she was in her 20s. I was on Copaxone, the first year was daily and later I was on 40 mg, 3 times a week. It made a tremendous difference for me. Although the fatigue was what really gets to me. When I do too much, I do start to feel weak.There has been little if any progress in finding a cure or reliable treatment. My multiple sclerosis got significantly worse and unbearable because of my cognitive thinking.. Last year, i started on a natural multiple sclerosis Herbal therapy from Green House Herbal Clinic, i read a lot of positive reviews from patients who used the treatment and i immediately started on it. I had great relief with this herbal treatment. I am doing very much better now, no case of Cognitive thinking or memory Loss,, my multiple sclerosis condition is totally reversed. Visit Green House Herbal Clinic website w ww. greenhouseherbalclinic .com. I am thankful to nature, the medics failed. Share with friends!!

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