by Lawrence Wilson, MD

© Dcember 2013, The Center For Development


            Fermented foods have been used throughout human history as a way to enhance the vitamin and amino acid content of foods, acidify the intestines, support healthful flora in the intestines.  They are also recommended to help resist intestinal infections, enhance the flavors of some foods, and as a way to preserve foods. 

The best known fermented foods are perhaps cheese and yogurt.  However, various human populations have fermented hundreds of foods, mainly vegetables and fruits, making various common food items such as pickles, miso, natto, tofu, tempe, kvass, wines, beer, pulke, kombucha, and others.

            Some health authorities today recommend eating a lot of fermented foods.  I find this harmful in almost all cases.  Most fermented foods are somewhat toxic and stimulating, and can even be addictive for this reason.  The exceptions are cheeses, particularly raw cheeses, yogurt and kefir.  Some saurkraut is also good. Here are possible reasons for this clinical observation.




1. Too yin for several reasons.  The reasons are:

a. Ferments, which are bacteria or yeasts, tend to be very yin organisms.

b. The food is eaten in an essentially raw state.  This also makes the food much more yin, in general, than if the food were cooked.

c. Most are eaten cold, which is more yin.

To read more about the important subject of the yin and yang aspect of foods, read Yin And Yang Healing on this website.


2. Aldehyde poisoning.  Aldehydes are a type of organic chemical compound that are produced by some fermenting organisms.  If the food is prepared correctly, aldehyde production should be minimal.  However, often it is high in fermented foods such as kombucha tea, some pickles, and others.

Aldehydes are quite toxic for the body, and this is a major problem with some fermented foods.  On hair mineral tests, we see the results of eating aldehydes.  The personÕs sodium/potassium ratio starts to decline and oneÕs vitality diminishes.  This is a consistent finding.  The more aldehydes one eats, the worse the problem.

The worst foods for the production of aldehydes are wine, beer, kombucha tea and Rejuvelac.  These must be avoided, please.  The least are produced in foods such as miso and some good quality sauerkraut.  For more information on aldehydes, read Aldehyde Toxicity From Fermented Foods on this website.


3. Possibly unclean.  It is true that fermenting a food often kills harmful micro-organisms and affords some protection against intestinal infections.  However, fermented food, because it is not heated or boiled to cook it, is still subject to carrying some unclean pathogens.  Fermenting, in other words, may not kill all the parasites, bacteria and viruses that are found in many raw foods.


4. Disadvantages compared to cooked vegetables. These include:

a.  Cooking tends to break down the fiber better than fermenting, in most cases, and this allows one to absorb more nutrients from vegetables and fruits.

b.  Cooking tend to concentrate most foods more than fermenting.  This allows one to eat more of the food, which is helpful today to obtain more nutrition.

c.  Cooking warms the food, which appears to be less upsetting to the digestion than eating cold fermented foods that the body must warm up.

d. As stated above, cooking makes the food much more yang than does fermenting.


5. Addictive (stimulative).  This is very common with many, though not all fermented foods.  One of the most common is Kombucha tea.


For all of these reasons, I recommend avoiding most fermented foods except some cheeses, yogurt, kefir and perhaps some sauerkraut and/or miso soup, if desired.



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