Did you know that you are more bug than human?

Yup, it’s true; we are living in a bacterial world. Your trillion odd cells are outnumbered 10 to 1 by the bacterial cells that live on or in you and your 30,000 genes pale into insignificance next to the 3 million genes you are carrying around that belong to the bugs. So that means each of us is 90 to 99 percent bacteria, depending on which way you look at it.

Bacteria generally get bad press for making us sick and western culture is somewhat germophobic. What doesn’t get so much press however, is how important our resident bacteria are. We actually need them for a whole host of things, including keeping inflammation under control. According to molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler, bacteria “are incredibly important, they keep us alive. They cover us in an invisible body armor that keeps environmental insults out so that we stay healthy. They digest our food, they make our vitamins, they actually educate your immune system to keep bad microbes out.”

Now how do we ensure that we have enough of the good bacteria?

Well, you could take probiotics but that seems silly when you can culture your own by making fermented foods. A decent serving of sauerkraut can supply you with 10 trillion beneficial bacteria. When you culture food you magically transform it into something completely new that is teeming with vitamins, enzymes, minerals, amino acids and the good bacteria we all desperately need.

Don’t just think yogurt, think kimchi, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, miso, kvass, chutneys, relish, pickles – the list is almost endless. There are loads of traditional recipes about because fermentation is an ancient art that has been practised since time immemorial. Next week, we’ll cover an easy fermented veg recipe.

What’s your favourite fermented food?