By Dr. Mercola
Long before the beneficial bacteria known as probiotics hit store shelves, cultures around the globe have been enjoying the benefits of a microbe-rich diet courtesy of fermented foods.
Thousands of years ago, when fermented foods and beverages were first consumed, the microbial and enzymatic processes responsible for the transformations were largely unknown.1
What was known was that fermentation extended the longevity of foods and they came to be valued for their medicinal and nutritive properties. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO):2
“Fermentation is one of the oldest forms of food preservation technologies in the world. Indigenous fermented foods such as bread, cheese, and wine, have been prepared and consumed for thousands of years and are strongly linked to culture and tradition, especially in rural households and village communities.
The development of fermentation technologies is lost in the mists of history. Anthropologists have suggested that it was the production of alcohol that motivated primitive people to settle down and become agriculturists. Some even think the consumption of fermented food is pre-human.
The first fermented foods consumed probably were fermented fruits. Hunter-gatherers would have consumed fresh fruits but at times of scarcity would have eaten rotten and fermented fruits. Repeated consumption would have led to the development of the taste for fermented fruits.
There is reliable information that fermented drinks were being produced over 7,000 years ago in Babylon (now Iraq), 5,000 years ago in Egypt, 4,000 years ago in Mexico, and 3,500 years ago in Sudan…
Fermentation of milk started in many places with evidence of fermented products in use in Babylon over 5,000 years ago… China is thought to be the birth-place of fermented vegetables
… Knowledge about traditional
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