Here in the United States, we have an obsession with freshness. We’ve been convinced that the sooner a food leaves the farm, the better it is. Sure, it’s a good policy, but it leaves out an incredibly healthful category of foods that can help keep you younger. Fermented foods are dishes that would seem spoiled by conventional definitions, but have been preserved through the introduction of beneficial bacteria. Good examples of these foods that have gone main stream are sourdough bread and yogurt, both of which capitalize on the biochemical processes that begin when wheat and milk begin to spoil. However, when carefully controlled, and kept from other contaminants, fermented foods can ‘mature’ into anti-aging super foods.
Fermentation can even render previously inedible foods more palatable and/or nutritious. Lectins, glutens and phylates in grains can be greatly reduced through fermentation (great news for those with gluten allergies). Similarly, fermentation breaks down lactose in dairy. But most impressively, fermentation can amp up the content of Vitamin K2 in certain foods such as soy, known as Natto when fermented. K2 is essential to bone, cardiovascular and dental health. Other fermented foods that may be worth a try include anchovies, kimchi (fermented cabbage), soy sauce, kefir, torshi (mixed vegetables), sauerkraut, crème fraiche, kombucha, pickles, dark chocolate and poi.