The Health Benefits of Lactic Acid Bacteria
Love your tummy, love your body, love yourself, comes from understanding the saying, ‘you are what you eat.’ The prerequisite for feeling good and healthy about ourselves is rooted in the quality of foods we eat. Our foods should provide basic nutrition, quench our hunger, be pleasant to our senses of smell, taste, touch,and sight, and promote overall health.
Let me introduce you to our newly created 'Sourdough Pasta' which we have coined 'Pasta Fermentata.' This pasta fulfils all of the above attributes and significantly helps with digestion. It is the re-discovered missing link to our past. Let me explain.
Recent scientific research into food biotechnology identified the importance of including ‘functional foods’ in our daily diet. Functional foods are those that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Sourdough precisely exemplifies a functional food. It contributes immeasurably to our ability to digest gluten containing cereal crops. These grain crops include all wheat varieties, including durum, spelt, barley, einkorn, emmer, Kamut®, triticale, and also rye.
Other well-known functional foods that have been identified for their health promoting characteristics are yogurt, cheese, kefir,kombucha tea, sourdough bread, and many vegetable based fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, and all pickled foods.One common trait that these foods share is that they are all naturally fermented foods and are certainly considered probiotic. Probiotic signifies that these foods are made from a live bacterial culture that bestow beneficial characteristics into the food. Besides superior flavour, they also provide higher nutritional values, and help in breaking down foods. Traditional fermented foods have always played a major role in the human diet. I like to refer to them as ‘Happy Tummy’ foods, for their health promoting qualities.
The presence of Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) along with wild yeasts in sourdough was identified back in the mid-1800s. The important role these bacteria play in foods prepared from cereal grains is only coming to light because we face epidemic food borne illnesses related to these cereal crops.In the past 100 years many new food products have been invented from these grains, but sadly without including sourdough fermentation. This neglect, coupled with the misuse and overuse of antibiotics has significantly contributed to many modern gastrointestinal illnesses. A wide variety of symptoms are associated with these diseases.
Microbiologists astoundingly admit the similarities of our own gastrointestinal flora to that of a viable sourdough culture. It seems that modern microbiologists are only now re-discovering the powerful health promoting characteristics of these bacteria. It can be said that we are currently emerging out of the antibiotic era into the probiotic, reverting back to traditional food preparation methods that our ancestors employed.
In one of the latest scientific books on sourdough, calledThe Handbook on Sourdough Biotechnology (2013), edited by professors Marco Gobbetti (Italy) and Michael Gänzle (Canada), the first chapter is titled ‘Sourdough: The Ferment of Life.”It recognizes the importance of sourdough in our diet and states:“The history of sourdough and related baked goods follows the entire arc of the development of human civilization, from the beginning of agriculture to the present (pg.1).”In fact, our ancestors thrived for thousands of years on gluten containing cereal crops. It provided the essential food security that allowed us the transformation from hunter-gatherers to farmers, being able to domesticate animals, and to build permanent houses and towns.
Since the number of people affected by wheat allergies, gluten intolerances, and Celiac Disease are more prominent today than ever before, it stands to reason that sourdough must play a key role in digesting these grains.
Research into sourdough fermented foods that were carried out in Italy with patients that had Celiac Disease are conclusive that sourdough is essential in ‘gluten degradation’, meaning the breaking apart of the molecular bonds that hold together the gluten proteins. Further, Gobbetti and Gänzle write:“Food processing by selected sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases (enzymes) may be considered an efficient approach to eliminate gluten toxicity” (pg. 248).In our online archive you will find more specific scientific research papers published on this topic at http://pastafermentata.com/archive.html.
There are several other health promoting attributes built into our sourdough pasta which I would like to highlight for you.
The Canadian Prairies are renowned all over the world for growing some of the very best cereal wheat crops on our planet. The hot dry summers are perfect growing conditions for wheat varieties like durum,which is used for making pasta flour called semolina. Semolina flour is considered the ‘primo’ for making authentic Italian pasta. Canada does not allow genetic manipulation with wheat grain varieties. We proudly support our country's farmers and try to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible. Furthermore, all of our speciality flours are sourced from organic growers, emphasizing our commitment to responsible farming.
We adhere to traditional Italian pasta ingredients of flour, water, and a bit of olive oil. All we do additionally is apply our in-house sourdough technique and transform a health compromising food into a health promoting food.
There is no salt, eggs or dairy in our pasta; we leave those additions up to your personal preference.Generally, a bit of salt is added to the boiling water just prior to adding the pasta, in traditional Italian pasta.
The water we use for our pasta comes from our own mountain spring. Crystal clear all year round,due to the natural filtration provided by massive Mount Holmes (8,858 feet or 2700m elevation), the water exits in a fissure of limestone—bedrock at the foot of the mountain. We pipe this isolated stream of water directly to our little pasta factory on the valley floor.
Another unique characteristic of our sourdough pasta is that it cooks much faster than any conventional pasta. ‘Al Dente’, Italian for “cooked thoroughly, but still firm,” is usually achieved in approximately five minutes.
We invested in the finest Italian pasta machinery in order to create this health promoting,mouth-watering pasta. The shapes of the pasta are made with genuine bronze plates giving them the authentic quality and texture.
Now that I listed some of the unique quality features of our sourdough pasta, it is your turn to create unforgettable meals. They don’t have to be very complex because our pasta already provides an exceptional flavour experience on its own, with all of the health advantages built in.
Finely grated cheese melting on top of the hot pasta, and possibly adding some exquisite condiments can provide a simple, gratifying meal. Our sourdough pasta also lends itself nicely to complex dishes with fish, meat, roasted vegetables or any combination thereof. Let your imagination be your guide, there are no limits. The sourdough provides for good digestion and your stomach is going to feel good, resulting in a‘Happy Tummy.’
The combination of carbohydrates and plant proteins inherent in these cereal crops make them the ideal food for our planetary survival. As I have stated in previous articles, it is not the grains that are at fault. Rather, we neglected or lost the way these grains need to be prepared in order to consume and enjoy them without negative consequences. It is my hope that with our newly invented sourdough pasta, we contribute to the exciting new frontier of healthy, happy, functional foods.
More information and articles can be found on our website, www.microsour.com.
If you understand and appreciate the information that I have written, please feel free to pass it on. This could go a long way in preventing many of our modern ailments.
Kaslo Sourdough Pasta
Summer Solstice, Kaslo 2013