1. The author rightfully mentions it, but I'll repeat it nevertheless because fermented foods are often only characterized as "healthy" without any mention for their taste properties: it can simply be delicious. I stopped drinking soda in favor for water kefir , and I'm not missing Coke/Fanta/... It takes me 10 minutes to brew every two days and it's yummy.
2. When you make it, you know what's in it. My homebrew kefir is just water, sugar, figs, lemon, sometimes ginger, sometimes maple syrup (and kefir, of course). No concern for unknown colorants/conservatives/additives.
Yogurt is also extremely easy to make - just put a spoonful of yogurt in a smallish container of milk, and wait. It's also pretty easy to add things to, just like kefir. Fresh yogurt often tastes way better than storebought, and you know the bacteria are active!
I usually make 1.5kg of yoghurt that way, and it keeps for about one to two weeks — but it never survives that long (2-person household), so I make yoghurt around every three days. We use it for breakfast cereals, yoghurt with jam (home made jam for added benefit :-) and ayran. It's fantastic!
It is best prepared with just a couple of tablespoons of yoghurt (3-4) in a liter-sized bottle of water, with a teaspoon of (ordinary, white) salt added to it. Shake well, enjoy :-)
But I found it difficult to get a thermal pot down to the right temperature range to begin yogurt and switched to making only kefir. Kefir is less likely to lose to a contaminant at room temperature as it is a diverse cocktail.
I let the milk cool naturally to 115F, then I mix a tablespoonful of the warm milk with two tablespoons of my starter yogurt (for a gallon of milk). I continue to mix a tablespoon of milk into the starter until the starter is pourable. It then gets added to the pot of milk and stirred. If I'm making skyr, the rennet goes in at this stage.
The pot is usually at 112F-114F and get wrapped in towels and thrown into a warm oven, I usually heat the oven to it's lowest setting (200F) while the milk is warming, then turn the oven off while the milk is cooling. The milk sits in the oven overnight. The 105F-115F range is the "ideal" temperature for the bacteria.
In the morning, the curds get sliced, strained, and jarred.
Once you get used to it, making yogurt once a week takes an active 30 minutes of my time.
I believe that traditional skyr is made from bacteria in baby goat stomachs; the rennet is substituting this. Additionally, skyr is usually pretty thick, so I strain the curds until I get softened cream cheese consistency.
I switched to milk kefir for that reason - I don't want to drink sugar every day, as my SIBO returns quite quickly if I do.
This is probably the simplest and easiest guide I've found, and it's the one I've used to greatest success: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/11/how-to-make-so...
If someone in bay area would like to try baking their own bread, but they don't want to grow the fermentation starter from scratch, let me know, I can share mine. it's based on whole-grain flour, and it's pretty stable (6 months old now!).
Unlike what most people think it is also very safe and easy to do at home. Making sauerkraut or Kimchi is a fun experience and the result can usually compete with most of the produce you can find in supermarkets.
If you're interested in home fermentation make sure to check out Sandor Katz's "The Art of Fermentation", which is a great reference:
The point is that when I see numbers of test subjects, duration, measures of benefit, etc I feel more confident that some thought has gone into understanding benefits. However, Unless a test subjects only ate that one product or all test subject diets were controlled, it's difficult to measure benefits.
After reading this article, I was unsure of how rigorous this research was. Despite many references, the strength of the data wasn't analysed in a way that was quantifiable.
This article isn't alone. One of the few miracle vitamins (vitamin c) also has its critics when it comes to potential benefits.
In summary, I wasn't convinced one way or another by this research.
Well, apart from its being food, protein and fat. :)
I once spent part of an evening reading the labels of all yogurts in my local chain supermarket, looking for the smallest counts of "ingredients that aren't yogurt" and carbs (I'm type 2 diabetic, hence my interest in carb count over the day). For my supermarket, that turned out to be Fage greek yogurt. I eat their full-fat product almost every morning, and I can state without a doubt that it is food. :)
But my main takeaway from this was not so much about outcomes (I would need to look into those studies more closely as you suggest). Rather it is that studies show that fermented foods are capable of surviving digestion and altering gut flora.
Overall I am really happy to see an article based on research citations rather than that it was published in NYT.
As far as I am aware, the same compounds are present in e.g. vinegar-pickled cucumbers and can lead to esophageal cancers. That appears completely lacking from the discussion in this article, though perhaps the purely-bacterially-fermented vegetables result in different compounds.
Does anyone have any recent information about the relative risks of the nitrosamines present in pickled vegetables vs e.g. bacon? If bacon is in the hazard category of "causes cancer", aren't also pickled vegetables?
Nothing serves life and soundness of body so well, nor is so necessary as the smoke of the royal plant, tobacco. —Dr. Cornelius Bontekoe, 1685
Man, the creature who knows he must die, who has dreams larger than his destiny, who is forever working a confidence trick on himself, needs an ally. Mine has been tobacco. —John Boynton Priestley
[Tobacco] is the passion of honest men and he who lives without tobacco is not worthy of living. —Moliere
That's an incredible quote. Thanks.
Back when I worked from home, I kept a pot of stew going for months. It was pretty nice: depending on the ingredients I added, I could get a French, an English, a German, a Mexican or an Indian flavour, and when I wanted to be lazy I could just let it go down a bit further than usual.
Also, fermentation would render the stew sour, which I don't think is a good quality for a stew.
I think that the idea of the perpetual stew is the contrary: to keep the stew always boiling on the fire in order to prevent the microorganisms from growing and spoiling it.
I'm wondering if water kefir might be easier and how it compares to drink.
What they overlook is that probiotics are indeed that: 'pro' in that they prevent rather than treat. Do I eat yogurt because I like it? Probably not, but I feel wonderful 2-3 hours after eating it, and can almost feel the PH in my gut getting more balanced.
Science Based Medicine was also founded by scientific skeptics, so "refreshing skeptical assertions" will be the norm there.