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 Cultured Foods 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Chef Teton's Essential Cuisine - 'Making Every Bite Count' by . View all columns in series

High amounts of sugar and processed foods will do the same thing. And chemicals and pesticides in the foods we eat could possibly be a more specific type of 'terrorist act', paralyzing certain types of the friendly bacteria and other flora.

Every food we eat contains a mixture of good and bad live flora. The bacteria on fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds colonize our intestinal tract, leaving species that implant themselves in the colon and create health. Unless there has been animal contamination in the crop fields or human contamination in the processing process, these foods and the flora they contain are safe.

Cultured Foods: The Answer to More Satisfying Meals…And Some Intestinal Problems
Researchers have found that good bacteria in the gut activates a substance in plant cell walls and fibers called SLC5A8 which transforms undigested glucose to energy. SLC5A8 acts somehow as a transporter of short-chain fatty acids in the colon, which the colon uses for energy. The SLC5A8 also is closely tied to colon motility. When the bacterial flora is wiped out and in cases of colon cancer, the SLC5A8 levels are decreased significantly.

It's the act of processing foods that starts to create an imbalance in the flora a food naturally contains. The food industry, concerned with food safety, uses different methods to 'sanitize' or 'sterilize' the foods it prepares for mass human consumption. Irradiation, the use of chemicals and preservatives, flash heating, microwaving, and pasteurization will all destroy the good, and bad, natural micro-organisms found in food.

Researchers have found that this destruction sets up the body for disease to follow: Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, asthma, lactose intolerance, food sensitivities, constipation, colon cancer, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other chronic illnesses.

In one Canadian study, researchers gave probiotic supplements, which are a combination of micro-organisms, to colonize the gut to 28 intensive care patients suffering from multiple organ dysfunction syndrome. Within a week, their immunity was greatly enhanced.

You need an intestinal SWAT team, and the easiest way to bring one in is with cultured foods. These foods are teeming with dozens of strains of micro-organisms that will replenish those armies of good bacteria that have been depleted or damaged. Once replaced, the friendly microbial flora is ready to stand in your defense, and this SWAT team isn't just helpful for gastrointestinal health.

In another study, mice were given an antibiotic, which wiped out the intestinal flora, then subjected to a fungi. Within a few days, allergic hypersensitivity toward the fungi appeared.

Research now shows us that it seems we have a second brain, one that emanates from the commander of the gut's army of microbes. The microbes produce hormones and other chemicals that influence the immune system, the brain, the reproductive organs, and every other part of the body.

Cultured foods can provide you with a complete spectrum of micro-organisms on a daily basis. One serving of a cultured food can be better than an entire bottle of probiotic supplements you find on the shelf at the health food store. That's because each cultured food will naturally provide you with dozens of species of bacteria, as compared to five or maybe 10 different species in a supplement. Natural health enthusiasts believe that in sauerkraut alone, there are close to 300 species!

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 About The Author
Susan Teton Campbell, a food professional with over twenty years experience co-authored the Healthy School Lunch Action Guide winning endorsements from USDA, California State Child and Nutrition Department and......moreSusan Campbell
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