No, our paleolithic ancestors probably weren’t fermenting their food, but the diets of hunter-gatherers are more what ya call guidelines than actual rules, and fermented foods are a perfect example of this.
The Benefits of Fermentation
Fermentation is a natural process that does happen in the wild. As soon as humans figured out how to harness the power for ourselves, we started fermenting just about everything we could get our hands on. There are some proven health benefits that go along with this, the most notable being the probiotic effects.
Our bodies are full of tiny little micro-organisms that can either help us or hurt us, depending on the kind of organism. Before agriculture, we had no problem maintaining a healthy gut biome, just by eating lots of plants and animals.
The Down Side to Antibiotics
A lot has changed since then. When we started living in close quarters, we became subject to communicable diseases. Once we figured out that micro-organisms were at the root of these diseases, we began to disinfect everything, but this germophobia comes with a price. Antibiotics and disinfectants tend to kill off the good and bad bacteria alike, leaving us with impaired digestion and compromised immune systems.
The Health Benefits
Supplementing a healthy diet with fermented foods like sauerkraut is a great way to get some of those beneficial bacteria back into our systems. Sauerkraut also contains a lot of vitamins and minerals contained in whatever vegetables you happen to ferment. For cabbage this means vitamin C, manganese and vitamin B6.
Make Your Own
You can always buy pre-made sauerkraut at your local grocery store, but they likely used vinegar, rather than taking the time to ferment the cabbage, and that way you don’t get any of the probiotics. The good news is making your own is easy. Mark Sisson tells you how to do it right here.