Fermentation, Friendsgiving and Food

All across the nation old college buddies and high school friends will be sitting down to a less formal but likely more enjoyable event known as Friendsgiving. For anyone who has been out of the loop over the past 6 or 7 years, Friendsgiving is the celebration of Thanksgiving that occurs with your friends usually taking place a few days before the actual holiday. It’s a lot like the real thing without running the risk of being locked in conversation with your drunk uncle. I, like many of you, proceeded with what is becoming a staple in the yearly events of millennials. This past weekend and found some interesting conversation came from it.

The host of our Friendsgiving was one of my closest friends from college Trevor. Trevor, a Fermentation Science major, and the love child of Ron Swanson and Cheryl Strayed was a guy who loved his beer. Inevitably my college friends had seen through social media that I was now the go-to person for nutrition and fitness questions and took the opportunity to get any and every question answered. Trevor being the home-brewing beer guy that he is started in with the toughest question of the night–So, what about alcohol?

In a desperate attempt to keep the conversation light and not rain on the already wine-soaked parade I pivoted.

“Fermented foods,” I started; “can actually be really nutritious.”

This is more than true according to an article titled “Fermented Foods” published in the Nutrition Journal “Superfoods.”

“Preserving foods through fermentation creates conditions that allow health-promoting microbes to survive and outcompete food-spoiling microbes. Every food group on the plant (fruit, veggies, grains, milk, mushrooms, etc.) has been, in one way or another (generally using salt, smoke, vinegar, sugar, oil or alcohol). Besides extending shelf life fermentation also contributes many delicious new flavor compounds as well as those helpful bacteria. These “probiotics” produce new B and C vitamins and improve immunity and digestive function.”

Some foods that fall into this category include: Pickled cabbage, kimchi or sauerkraut which contribute to breast cancer prevention.

Coffee is full of antioxidants and the drip kind has been shown to decrease the risk of some throat cancers.

Studies have also shown that moderate wine drinkers have a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more. So, wine drinkers rejoice. Now if we can only nail down a definition of moderate.

Finally, moderate consumption of beer, especially antioxidant-rich ales, protect against heart disease. Thankfully I had this nugget of wisdom ready knowing that I would someday be asked the question.
So, all was well at another Friendsgiving. The plates were full; the glasses even fuller. I entertained with my dad jokes: Is the turkey vegan? And someone’s drunk uncle showed up. Happy Holidays Everyone.

To Your Continued Success,

Don Gilbert


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