Soothing oneself with a favorite sweet treat is a habit often developed in early childhood. Whether birthdays, holidays or special family events, sugar in all its forms — cake, cookie, candy, pastry or sugary drink — creates a tapestry of memories. An innocent offer of candy by a well-intentioned grandparent or loved one may produce a sense of well-being and emotional connection.
A small 2014 study, printed in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researched the brain-sugar connection and its physical impact on anxiety or comfort levels. Nineteen women were given sucrose or aspartame drinks three times a day for two weeks. Prior to their MRI scan, they were asked to solve complex math problems, in their head, to increase their anxiety level. As if the MRI experience wasn’t enough!
Researchers were surprised to find that instead of a typical brain anxiety response — increased levels of the stress-hormone cortisol, and reduced activity in the hippocampus — the opposite occurred. The hippocampus activity increased, while the cortisol was reduced. In turn? Reduced anxiety! More research is needed with larger groups, and the inclusion of men, but it is a good start to explain why sugar habits may calm cortisol-anxiety responses.
For those in recovery, this is one more piece of the puzzle on why it is difficult to break free of sugar. With good intentions, cupboards and cabinets are cleared of processed sugar, candy, cookies, bread, cake and pie. Out goes the highly-processed fruit juices and corn-syrup loaded beverages.
New friends are welcomed into our home — raw, whole, fresh fruit, and natural, fresh-pressed juices. But archeology and anthropology discoveries point out that we may be surprised by their findings. Today’s fruit has little in common with those of antiquity. Fruit, such as the mango and apple, were described as hard in texture, their flavor as bitter, sour, lip-puckering, and pungent. Take a bite of our modern Mexico-grown mango, and sweet, sweeter, and sweetest would be today’s description.
Ancient figs, discovered by archaeologists in the Jordan Valley, are only one-third the size of modern figs. Modern dates are also huge in comparison to dates discovered in an Israel tomb, which when fresh, would have been no larger than a raisin.
Industrial food growers will tell you they have crafted today’s fruit to meet consumer expectations. In 1915, the national annual average of sugar consumption was 15 to 20 pounds per person. Today, the average person consumes his or her own bodyweight in sugar, plus 20 pounds of corn syrup.
Juice — Important Part of History
Don’t throw out the fruit! Thousands of generations have valued fruit nutrients, described in French literature as, “essence, strength, and vitality.” Today, food biochemists know these attributes as powerful phytonutrients, beneficial organic plant components.
Alpha-carotene, the pigment in carrots, beta-carotene from sweet potato and pumpkin, beta-cryptoxanthin in citrus, peaches and apricots, as well as lycopene from tomato, watermelon and guava, are all pigments that offer protective benefits to eyes and hearts, and act against some cancers. Polyphenols, such as flavonoids quercetin and rutin, are abundant in beautiful red beets — a good, natural way to reduce excess histamine.
So what holds us back from eating more fruit? Sugar! For thousands of generations, our ancestors crafted anaerobic-fermented fruit juice as a way to preserve fruit nutrients, without creating alcohol. Why have we not heard about their techniques or practices? What tools did they employ that might have been as efficient as our twin-gear or masticating juicers?
Whether a covered unglazed crock, animal skin, calabash gourd, deep earth pit, covered oak barrel, or unglazed covered crocks, all ancient fermentation tools were secured, to restrict the inflow of oxygen. Animal skins had all their “loose ends tied up,” a phrase we still use. Unglazed crocks were covered, their covers sealed in place with a bead of wax, or animal fat, to eliminate oxygen. Whether skin, wood, gourd, or clay, carbon dioxide was produced by sugar-hungry microbes, which then pushed oxygen out through the vessel pores. Inside the vessels, water — the world’s most abundant solvent — went to work, to extract nutrients from the food fibers. Just as fermentation turns grape mash into wine, so too water, fruit mash and a little salt created flavorful, nutrient-dense sugar-free juices.
Today, the tradition continues with modern materials — fire-polished, hardened glass, petroleum-free grommet, and authentic anaerobic sealing system called the Pickl-It™ an anaerobic fermentation system, created in 2008, to borrow the wisdom of the ages.
Like the fermentation juice methods of olde, Pickl-It™ positive pressure eliminates atmospheric oxygen, pushed up and out the airlock. Immediately, lactic acid bacteria, which resides in all organic food material, goes to work eating the food sugar, a “fuel,” to create a wide range of enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, and over 150 different nutritional by-products.
Fermented carrot juice has been a favorite “health drink” through Turkey, Pakistan, and most of the Middle East, still widely-popular after many centuries. The World Health Organization has recently discussed the nutritional improvement and advantages of fermented tomato juice, sweet potato juice, and pumpkin juice.
Europeans and Koreans still enjoy, after many centuries, cabbage juice as a “health” tonic, created from sauerkraut or cabbage-based kimchi. Garlic juice, onion juice, beet juice, turnip juice — the list of possible nutrient-dense, sugar-free, naturally-created juices is endless:
Vegetable: Parsnip, rutabaga, green bean, tomato pulp, sweet potato, radish, onion, olive, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber and beet.
Fruit: Tomato, tomatillo, papaya, pineapple, mango, muskmelon, honeydew melon, banana, kiwi, watermelon, as well as a variety of berries.
Herbs: Carrot, sauerkraut, onion, leek, ginger, turmeric, nettles, jalapeno, daikon, horseradish, burdock and garlic are easy to ferment, their juice classified as medicinal as well as a “health drink.”
When grains and legumes are germinated, their nutritional availability increases 3 to 300%. When fruit, vegetables and herbs are fermented in the authentic fermentation Pickl-It system, they are more easily-digested, and nutrients become unlocked. Pickl-It makes a wide variety of fresh, raw foods, even better.
Numerous research studies have shown that anaerobic fermentation improves nutrients in raw foods, which are made more available, as well as pre-digested. Fermented vegetables, fruits and herbs are considered raw by even the most passionate raw food enthusiast.
It only takes a ripe watermelon, carrot, or cucumber three short days to become crisp, clean, and sugar-free. Sugars in all fruit, vegetables, and herbs are intended to feed the fermentation microbes. Not our brains!
Anaerobic fermentation enhances the organoleptic and nutritional quality of the fermented fruits and vegetables and retains the nutrients and coloured pigments (N. R. Dahal, T. B. Karki, B. Swamylingappa, Q. Li, and G. Gu, “Traditional foods and beverages of Nepal-a review,” Food Reviews International, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 1 – 25, 2005.)
Fermented berry juice inhibited activate-macrophage; nitric oxide production; induced tumour necrosis factor-a production (Martin, J. & Matar, C. (2006))
Kiwi-green kiwifruit digest appears to prime defense mechanisms in gut cells by enhancing the production of antimicrobial defensins (Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2012 Sep;67(3):208-14)
Phytic acid is of concern, but all vegetables that contain phytate, benefit from fermentation which is efficient in its removal. (Deshpande S.S. Handbook of Food Toxicology. Marcel Dekker; New York, NY, USA: 2002. Food Additives; pp. 219 – 284.)
Burdock-Significant increase in bifidobacteria growth (Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2013; 77(1):53-7)
Correlates with lower serum concentrations (Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 May; 97(5):1053-61)
Carrot-traditional drink (using purple carrot) throughout middle east and Asia; stabilizes blood sugar levels, iron levels (S. W. Bergqvist, , A. -S. Sandberg, N. -G. Carlsson and T. Andlid)
Provides rich source of natural β-carotene (Journal of Food Processing and Preservation Volume 30, Issue 3, pages 352 – 363, June 2006)
Beet-lactic acid fermentation enhances organoleptic and nutritional quality, and retains nutrients and colored pigment such as betanin, food color with biological activity (molecular nutrition- Wiley, purchased article)
Scavenger of reactive oxygen species
Exhibits gene-regulatory activity
Induces antioxidant defence mechanisms
Potential blood pressure lowering effects mediated by dietary nitrate
Apart from betanin, isobetanin, and neobetanin,(Kanner, et al 2001) the fermented juice contains: betanidin (5% of total red dye content) and isobetanidin (0.7% of total red colorant content). These compounds are not found in fresh beet juices, which was shown in a study by Czyżowska et al. .
Betanidine and isobetanidine are aglycones, which are thought to have high biological activity (just as betanin) with respect to neutralizing free radicals present in the environment [Kanner et al., 2001]. Betanidin and its isomer – isobetanidin – are formed in fermented beet juice as a result of the bacterial activity of β-glucosidase catalysing the transformation of betanin into betanidine [Stintzing & Carle, 2004].
1867 — Chemical News journals dated 1868, details the “production of nitric oxide during the fermentation of beet juice.”