Is it reaaally safe to eat fermented foods? Here’s one great article on how the specific bacteria produced in fermented sauerkraut, raw milk yogurt, and Kim chi can cure/kill botulism. Thank you, Health Impact News for publishing this study!
So, we immediately have a puzzling contradiction: if the spores are everywhere and will grow anywhere with no air, why are illness cases so very rare?
For the answer, quick rewind to our friends, the microbiome: our gut bacteria routinely detoxify BoNT by several subtle but effective mechanisms. Gut bacteria release proteases and “bacteriocines” (short peptides) which digest or deactivate the protective proteins around the BoNT, and even destroy the BoNT molecule itself .
It is tempting to point out here, this produces one more exception to the US FDA ruling about “cures”: the bacteria found in fermented sauerkraut, yogurt and Kim chi can really cure botulism.
How? By neutralizing this most potent nerve poison and lowering the pH of the medium so the bacterium cannot grow or produce more toxin.
Yes, lacto-fermented foods can and do neutralize botulism, even though the FDA forbids anything (food or supplement) from curing anything (disease) unless it is a pharmaceutically registered, regulated drug. Perhaps the bacteria in raw milk also detoxify BoNT as many farm families and activists often claim.
Care of gut bacteria is both a new area of developing science and a rediscovered ancient art . Consuming healthy foods is a large part of modern (ancient!) restorative measures.
First prebiotics, then probiotics, in that order. Eat food your biome will like as it arrives, then add live bacteria of the right mix. Natural yogurts are famous for being the right culture, but there are doubts about live bacteria surviving the acid stomach. Naturally fermented vegetables, combining the cabbage-mustard family and the onion family (sauerkraut, Kim chi) which have not been pasteurized, are hard to find unless you make them yourself, but they have four unique survival advantages:
1. These foods have lots of organic sulfur, which has recently been found to be deficient in our diets . Sulfur eaten with flavenoids, such as carotenoids or turmeric, allow sunlight on your skin to combine cholesterol and vitamin D3 with sulfate, both of which help maintain healthy membranes (muscles and nerves).
2. The culturing process makes the batch turn “sour,” and by the end-point most of the original bacteria die off from this acidity. Clostridium bacteria are placed on hold. This is why these ancient processes were invented: to preserve healthy food values without refrigeration. Although the live bacteria diminish, they leave behind acid-proof spores, able to survive a trip through your stomach acid, and ready to spring into action as soon as the pH rises (aka, they reach your small intestine, as needed).
3. The fermented cabbage and onions are softened a lot in the fermentation process, but they are still very healthy roughage, able to make it through 90% of the digestive process to your lower gut, offering some protection to bacteria and providing surfaces on which those replacement bacterial spores can begin to grow.
4. As we age, our digestive tracts may lack adequate stomach acid for some meals; regularly eating lacto-fermented products provides an acid mix around pH 3.5, and is able to help digest proteins in meat and legume dishes without becoming overly acidic.
The regular consumption of this natural nutrition system has worked for thousands of generations. We even recommend it to our bewildered physicians, recently frustrated by C. diff. infection cases resistant to big pharma’s famous antibiotics, and with nowhere else to turn for healing.