Living foods may conjure up images of something dark and fuzzy lurking at the back of your fridge – a tub of yogurt that’s seen better days, or leftovers that are decidedly sketchy (have you ever wondered why that processed spread never goes bad??…. hmmmm). What may surprise you is that living foods are all the rage these days. We’re seeing a movement back to food that will eventually, in a normal time frame, rot. In an age where everything is pre-packaged and convenient, it’s a healthy reminder that whole foods are what human beings were meant to eat. It’s food that’s fresh, full of vitality, and well – life.
Out With the Old
The last twenty to thirty years have seen the rise of anti-bacterial, sterile food preparation. Bacteria was dangerous and to be avoided at all costs. This trend dovetailed with the rise of extensive food processing, and the result is a current foodscape that’s pretty darn anemic. Take a look at your daily diet: how much of what you eat is brimming with life? Your dairy is pasteurized (it’s the law), your pasta has gone through a dozen steps from field to packaged state, and your fruits and veggies have likely been sprayed with multiple insecticides – then covered in a preservative wax. Even popular “healthy” food supplements have been extracted, dried, and ground to a fine powder. Not surprisingly, food intolerances and digestive disorders have skyrocketed. If what we eat is sometimes devoid of nutritional value, it is also, in a word, dead.
In With the New
Let’s hear it for bacteria! Fermented foods have been around for millennia, and were a time-honoured method for boosting immunity. Foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, and kombucha were preserved with bacteria in an age without refrigeration, and it just so happens this process brought out the best in the bioavailability of the nutrients. What modern scientists have discovered is that some strains of bacteria, far from being harmful, are in fact essential to our health. The digestive tract represents a whopping 80% of our immune system. These powerful bugs help us extract and digest the nutrients in our food, fight harmful bacteria, and heal our digestive organs from the ravages of poor eating & lifestyle habits.
Mainstream food producers are starting to catch on to the science, as we see ads trumpeting probiotics in more and more products. If you want to take baby steps into the land of fermented foods, try plain kefir or bottled kombucha, available at many grocery and most health food stores. This article from the well + GOOD also offers a great list of delicious fermented options to bring healthy bacteria back into your diet.
Another popular version of getting a huge dose of freshness and vitality is by juicing. Juicing differs from smoothies in that it extracts the essence of fruits and vegetables into a powerful cocktail of enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Simply speaking, you’re extracting maximum “life” out of your produce, and since there isn’t any fibre involved, absorption occurs very quickly. Juicing represents an energy boost like no other, and is a fantastic way to undertake a detox or heal the digestive tract. Check out these recipes to kick off the New Year right.
Go with your gut (literally!!) – shop your organic grocery for food that’s bursting with life, bacteria, and enzymes. Food that will put a spring in your step, and keep YOU living much longer!