Let's Talk About Fermentation

field of grass
fer·men·ta·tion: /fərmənˈtāSH(ə)n/ noun fermentation
  • the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat.
  • the process of fermentation involved in the making of beer, wine, and liquor, in which sugars are converted to ethyl alcohol.
So what does this all mean and what does it have to do with health? A lot of people think of things like alcohol, rotting food, or bad gas when they hear a word like “fermentation”. The truth is, people have been taking advantage of fermentation for thousands of years to preserve their food, increase the nutritional value of the food, make it easier to digest, make it taste better, or, yes, just get a little tipsy. Fermentation involves bacteria or yeasts eating the sugars or carbohydrates (including the polysaccharides in fiber) in foods. When we do it intentionally, rather than just by accident because we’ve forgotten that bottle of juice in the back of the refrigerator for several years (it happens…), we get to choose beneficial bacteria (probiotics) and nutritional yeasts to do the job. This results in things like lactic acid, short chain fatty acids or alcohol depending on the food source and the type of bacteria or yeast. For example, we all know yogurt, sauerkraut, Kimchi, wine, and beer as some common fermented foods and beverages. It’s not only people that take advantage of fermentation –even animals like monkeys, moose, and bats have been known to enjoy partaking of the alcohol produced by overripe fruit fermenting in the wild. Fermentation also happens in the intestines when bacteria go to work on your food –especially the fiber portion. Unfortunately this can result in gas and bloating for some people, especially when it happens really quickly. Fermenting vegetables and fiber with probiotics before we eat them is a great way to break down the cell walls (cellulose) in the vegetables to allow easier digestion and access to nutrients. Fermentation is also known to increase B vitamin bioavailability in foods and produce other nutrients like short chain fatty acids that are beneficial for GI health. This is what we set out to do when it came to reformulating our Udo’s Choice® Green Blend. Udo’s Choice® Green Blend (Beyond Greens) is a combination of organic leafy greens, whole foods, herbs, superfoods, and probiotics which are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients. These premium quality, organic, all-vegetarian ingredients have been carefully selected to provide optimum nutrition. Green Blend contains barley, oat, wheat, and alfalfa grasses fermented with Lactobacillus plantarum and Saccharomyces boulardii. Lactobacillus plantarum is a probiotic found naturally in plant matter as well as in our saliva. Saccharomyces boulardii is a type of probiotic yeast originally found in tropical fruit that has been researched for its beneficial effects in supporting intestinal health. Because fiber and grasses like wheatgrass can cause gas or bloating for some people, we decided in reformulating this product that we’d use fermented grasses to make it easier for a wider spectrum of people to take it.