Prior to refrigeration, freezing, and canning machines food was preserved through the process of lacto-fermentation. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying (bad) bacteria. Starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted into lactic acid by the many species of lactic-acid producing bacteria (lactobacilli). These are present on the surface of all living things and especially numerous on leaves and roots of plants growing near the ground.
The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented foods enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce their own numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Lactic acid also promotes the growth of healthy flora in the intestine.
Lacto fermented foods normalize the acidity of the stomach. Lactic acid helps break down proteins and aids their assimilation by the body.
Examples of a lacto-fermented food include raw sauerkraut (cabbage), kimchi, beet kvass, kefir, and sourdough breads.
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