7 Little Known Reasons NOT to Avoid Bacteria

Healthy Bacteria?
Photo by Gerolf Nikolay

“Anti-bacterial. Kills bacteria in one spray. Removes unseen bacteria, protecting you and your family.”

That’s what all those sterilizing cleaning products promise. But what if bacteria wasn’t something to be feared and squashed at every opportunity? What if your body’s relationship to bacteria was a symbiotic one instead.

Let’s explore this relationship we have with bacteria, and uncover the 7 misunderstood reasons why bacteria are actually good for you.

1. Bacteria and Fungi Lead to Fermentation

Microscopic bacteria and fungi are responsible for the fermentation of foods and drinks. They produce alcohol, lactic acid, and acetic acid that act as preservatives so that foods retain nutrients.

Our ancestors used fermentation, and thus bacteria, to preserve excess bounty for the long winter months. Fermented foods were also very useful during long voyages at sea because they retained nutrition for a long time.

2. Bacteria Make Foods Digestible

I talk a lot about eating foods that are easy to digest, and fermented foods are certainly more digestible.

Essentially, bacteria are acting as little helpers that work to pre-digest foods for us. This is incredible, since we often expend a lot of energy on digestion. So eating more fermented foods will lead to increased energy.

3. Fermentation Creates New Nutrients

Wild Fermentation

How could it be possible that a little fermentation could increase the amount of nutrients in food? Well the interesting phenomenon of microbial cultures proliferating actually creates B vitamins and even antioxidants.

4. Toxic Foods Become Edible

Another surprising benefit to bacteria and fungi fermentation is the removal of certain toxic elements.

Grains contain a compound that blocks the absorption of minerals into the body. However, with a little bit of fermentation these grains are now neutralized and edible.

5. Eating Live Bacteria Is Good For Your Stomach

The term “live” in live foods refers to eating foods that have not been destroyed, and in this case the bacteria is still alive.

Eating fermented living foods gives your stomach the intestinal flora that is necessary for digesting foods and absorbing nutrients.

Watch out for pasteurized foods, since these do not contain any live microorganisms.

6. Healthy Bacteria Compete with Harmful Strains

By eating fermented foods, healthy bacteria like Lactobacillus compete with diarrhea-related bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli.

That’s like having your own army to fend off competing invaders, instead of leaving your body to fend for itself.

7. Fermented Foods Help Protect Us from Disease

There are tons of ideas on how to prevent disease, but how many of them use probiotic organisms to do the work for you?

The body is not an isolated test tube, it is an ecosystem with many different factors at play. That’s why supplying it with health-supporting bacteria is a sure way to give your immune system a hand.

Here’s to Fermenting!

Wild Fermentation

In the book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz, there are literally 100 recipes on how to leverage healthy bacteria to make yummy fermented foods.

I highly suggest you pick it up to get an even deeper understanding on how simple and delicious fermented foods can be.

What’s your take on fermentation and bacteria?

Let me know in the comments, and share your favorite fermented foods with me!

Love, Nathalie

Durian: King of Fruits – What are Durians?

What is Durian?
Basketfuls of durian on my trip to Singapore. Yum!

One of the things I’m so grateful for is discovering and trying out new fruits and vegetables. The raw diet has really opened my eyes to the variety and bounty of fruits out there.

This post will focus on one of my favorite fruits in the world. However, a word of caution: not everyone likes Durian. In fact, durian tends to cause a complete polarity between those who love ’em and those who hate ’em.

What is Durian Speech

In 2007 I gave a speech about durian to a class of University students, where I explained the pros and cons of durian. If you want to see what this fruit looks like, and why it causes so much controversy watch this video!

If you’re reading this via email, click here to watch the video.

Unfortunately, you won’t get to smell the fruit by watching the video. That’s something that only the audience had the pleasure or in some cases, displeasure of experiencing themselves.

Where to Buy Durian?

If you’re not in South East Asia or another location that grows durians, you should check out Asian markets like Chinatown. Major cities like New York City, Toronto, and Montreal have them in the Chinatown areas.

For places that don’t have concentrated Asian communities, look for big Chinese supermarkets. These may be in a more residential area, depending on the location.

Oh, and good luck with your first try of durian. ;-)

My Recent Experiences with Durian

Since I gave that speech about durian in 2007, a lot has happened. I had recently been converted to a durian lover, but now I’ve taken my love of durian to a whole new level.

In January 2009 I traveled to Singapore, as part of my trip to South East Asia, and tasted my first fresh durian. Singapore is very close to Malaysia and my boyfriend and I were so lucky to be able to buy fresh durians!

Durian lovers out there: the taste and texture of durians really differ depending on where they are grown and if they are fresh or frozen. I was actually surprised by my first taste of fresh durian.

It was also interesting to see that there are so many different types of durians with names like D90 and D10. There are also local nicknames for different variety of durian fruits, like “red prawn” for fruits with a more red interior.

My boyfriend and I have our eyes on living somewhere within closer proximity to durian trees. Only time will tell if our love for durian will have us relocating to Asia.

Which Camp Do You Fall Into?

Do you love durian or do you hate it? What is it that makes you feel that way? Let me know in the comments! I love hearing about, talking about, and of course eating durian!