The Many Benefits of Fermented Foods
Humans ferment foods for numerous purposes. The primary, and original, purpose of fermentation was to preserve excess food. If you lived on the land--in the days before industrial farming, industrial food manufacturing, and supermarkets--you pickled, canned, salted, cured, and smoked what you grew, raised, or hunted to survive the winter (depending on the climate) or to survive an unexpected drought or other reason for a food shortage. Other purposes of fermenting were to make inedible or poisonous foods edible, to make foods more palatable, or to create flavors, textures, and smells that the original food did not have. Finally, fermentation provides many health-promoting benefits. In fact, fermented foods are also called "functional foods," meaning they have a health-promoting and/or disease-preventing property beyond that of the food's basic function of supplying nutrients. (Farnworth at 12). Fermented foods are "functional" in many ways. They provide prebiotics and probiotics. The bacteria, mold, and/or yeast used to ferment a food often increases both the antioxidant content and the bio-availability of nutrients in the food. The fermenting bacteria, mold, and/or yeast often create nutrients such as vitamins. Finally, the fermenting microorganisms create by-products that help us fight diseases and other ailments.
Let's take a closer look at the many benefits of fermented foods.
Preservation via Fermentation
The original and primary purpose of humans knowingly fermenting foods was preservation. Once humans began settling down around 12,000 years ago, at the start of the agricultural revolution, they began depending more on what they grew and raised for calories, and less on foraging for wild plants and hunting and scavenging wild animals. Being stationary with greater population density, human communities needed to find ways to survive food shortages caused by winters, droughts, plagues, crop failures, etc. Fermentation was a great solution. Fermenting foods increases their shelf-life, and safety relative to un-fermented foods. The bacteria, yeast, and mold that ferment foods eat up, i.e., ferment, the carbohydrates in the food. This fermentation produces one or more by-products such as organic acids (e.g., acetic, lactic, propionic), carbon dioxide, diacetyl, ethanol (alcohol), and antimicrobials such as reuterin and bacteriocine. These by-products preserve the fermented food by either killing, or creating an inhospitable environment for, undesirable bacteria that would cause spoilage or disease. Over time, humans perfected fermentation methods, allowing them to save and fully utilize excess crops before the age of refrigeration. Fermentation also resulted in new flavors and new textures, adding to palatability of the foods. In regards to wine, beer, and other alcohol, humans found mind-altering substances. Finally, fermentation can detoxify certain foods, making them safe to eat.
Fermentation fell out of use and favor over the last century. There are a few reasons for this. After WWI, industrial agriculture started ramping up thanks to technological advancements in seeds, petroleum-based fertilizers, chemical sprays, machinery, etc. The food supply chain became faster, cheaper, and worldwide due to trains, planes, and the interstate highway systems. The U.S. government also began subsidizing crops, such as corn, wheat, soy, rice, and sugar cane, which led to cheap, processed food and inexpensive meat and dairy as a result of animals being fed cheap corn and soy. Furthermore, in step with agricultural "advancements" and more efficient supply chain logistics came supermarkets with their year-round access to products. As this was all happening, U.S. farms began emptying out as children raised on the farm began moving to towns and cities. To highlight this exodus, in 1910, farmers made up 31% of the U.S. work force. By 1980, it was down to 3.4%. Part of this exodus was due to small farms not being able to compete with large, industrial farms that began planting subsidized cash crops. People in suburbs and cities had no need to grow, much less save food. The art of fermentation became lost to many.
Farming is seeing a resurgence, however. Young people are trading in thankless, unrewarding desk jobs for a life that allows them to both reconnect with nature and to see daily, meaningful results, which include providing local, sustainable food. There is coincides with a grass roots movement to once again embrace real food that is minimally processed and devoid of chemical preservatives, colorings, flavorings, and added salt, sugar, and fat. Fermented foods fit the bill, on all accounts, which is why their sales are increasing.
Ferment Before Eating
Many times, fermentation takes an inedible, or even poisonous food, and makes it edible. In addition, fermentation also imparts flavors to food that the food never had on its own. You might be surprised to learn that some of the most-consumed food items in the world are processed, at least in part, by fermentation. Some might argue that this does not technically qualify as a "functional" quality, per the "functional food" definition. But I think it's pretty darn functional nonetheless. Let's take a quick look at the major examples.
Olives: Olives are, in their natural state, inedible to humans due to an incredibly bitter compound, oleuropein glucoside. The process to remove this compound involves fermenting the olives in brine, i.e., salted water.
Cassava root: Cassava root (a.k.a., tapioca, yuca, manioc) is grown in over 90 countries, and is one of the primary calorie sources in the world--especially Africa. The problem is that it is poisonous due to its high levels of cyanide (cyanogenic glucoside). Fermentation, however, removes most, if not all of the cyanide, making it safe to eat.
Dairy: Fermentation of dairy, into foods such as yogurt or kefir, results in much of the lactose (milk sugar/carbohydrate) being eaten by the fermenting bacteria. This often allows lactose intolerant people to consume fermented dairy foods.
Mycotoxins: These are extremely dangerous toxins created by mold (i.e., fungus) that can grown on nuts, legumes, grains, and fruit. One of these, aflatoxin, is one of the most carcinogenic naturally occurring substances known. Fermentation can help inhibit the growth of these toxic fungi, or even remove the toxins via binding with them or degrading them, using enzymes. (See also, Frias, at 660-61).
Tea: Fu Zhuan tea and Pu-erh tea are types of teas that are fermented with a fungus, which imparts a unique flavor to the leaves. (Frias, 6). Not only that, but the fermentation results in a large increase in antioxidants. (Frias at 8). More on antioxidants in a bit.
Cocoa beans: Do you like chocolate? If yes, then thank fermentation. Raw cocoa beans don't taste anything like chocolate. In fact, they're bitter and inedible. Where does the chocolate flavor come from? Fermentation. The beans are fermented for four days by yeast and bacteria naturally occurring in the immediate environment. These yeast and bacteria ferment the carbohydrates, such as simple sugars and pectin in the bean and the pulp surrounding the bean. The by-products of this fermentation give the beans their chocolate flavor.
Coffee beans: Do you drink coffee? If yes, thank fermentation yet again. Fermentation by bacteria is required to process the bean. And, similar to the cocoa bean, the fermentation process imparts flavors to the coffee bean.
The "Biotics" of Fermented Foods
Don't get this mixed up with PRObiotics. We're talking about PREbiotics here. Since the late 1980s, when the term "prebiotic" came into being, it has described indigestible carbohydrates on which our gut microbiota flourish. If you read the post, Our Gut Microbiota: Critical to Our Health, you understand how critical it is--for almost all aspects of our physical and mental health--that we provide our gut microbiota with lots of indigestible carbs, which are found almost exclusively in whole plant foods.
Now, what "prebiotic" means has varied a lot over the years. The definition has changed frequently as research in the area of our gut microbiota and body microbiota advances. Here is a "consensus definition," from 2017: "[A prebiotic is] a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit." This definition comes from ISAPP, which is the International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics, founded in 2000. The need for a standard definition is, it appears, required in large part for science and industry who study, manufacture, and sell "prebiotics" for human and animal-related studies, food additives, and supplements. The 2017 definition, however, also embraces all, health-promoting resident microorganisms inside us and on us. We have communities of microorganisms all over our skin, inside all of our orifices, and inside our digestive tract, from mouth to anus. Another good thing about the more general definition is that it can encompass not only indigestible carbs, such as oligosaccharides and polysaccharides (a.k.a., fiber), but also plant polyphenols, which new research shows to be very important to a healthy gut microbiota.
For our purposes, and eating healthy, knowing details about what is or is not currently considered a prebiotic is not that important. Most important to remember is to just eat lots of whole plant foods. They're packed with "prebiotics." And don't waste your money on "prebiotic" supplements. Spend your money on real food, particularly whole or minimally processed plant foods. But let's get back to what we're discussing: fermented foods.
We can get prebiotics from eating fermented foods. But we can also get prebiotics from un-fermented foods. So what added benefits do we derive from eating fermented foods? What, exactly, do fungi (yeats and molds) and bacteria do to certain foods that make these foods not only more palatable, but healthier and "functional"? Let's take a look.
The consensus definition of probiotics is “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Probiotics are supplied or obtained in essentially three ways: food, supplements, and additives (to either food, e.g., baby formula, or products, e.g., tampons).
Probiotic foods have been defined as "foods containing live microorganisms, which actively enhance the health of consumers by improving the balance of the gut microflora when live microorganisms are ingested in sufficient viable numbers." (Tamang at 69). Notice the definition says "live microorganisms." Pasteurization of foods, such as mass-produced sauerkraut and kimchi, during the canning and bagging process, for example, results in the destruction of the probiotic microorganisms. Also the pickles you usually eat do not contain beneficial bacteria because they're preserved and bottled in vinegar. They have not been fermented. That is why we need to seek out raw, fermented foods. Look for the words "naturally fermented." They'll be in the refrigerated section.
In addition, to qualify as a probiotic, the microorganism must be able to actually make it to the large intestine. This means it has to survive the hydrochloric acid in our stomach and the bile in our small intestine. (Farnworth at 26).
Raw, fermented foods contain many of the same bacteria that are found in our gut. Many of these live bacteria and microorganisms can survive passage through our digestive tract, and help replenish and/or diversify our gut microbiota. Essentially, many of the bacteria that ferment indigestible carbs in our gut, ferment the indigestible carbs in the foods that are fermented. Currently, the most common probiotic foods are dairy-based, such as yogurt and kefir, with yogurt taking up the greatest share of the market. The demand and popularity for non-dairy fermented, probiotic foods, however--such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, sour pickles, etc.--is growing.
Another way to get probiotics is via supplements. We went over probiotic supplements a bit in the previous section, Our Microbiota: Critical to our Health. Here is short recap: Probiotic supplements consist of a selection of bacteria that, ideally, help re-populate gut bacterial populations to create a diverse, healthy gut microbiota. Check out this article, regarding the efficacy of probiotics in treating IBS, and another study regarding the use of probiotics, generally. And as scientists' understanding of our gut microbiota increases, the ability to create more effective probiotics increases. That said, consult your doctor (preferably a gastroenterologist) and do your homework before taking probiotics. There is an ever-changing, myriad of supplement products out there, with a myriad of bacterial combinations and, since the supplement industry is unregulated, products often do not contain what they claim.
Products that mix prebiotics and probiotics, with the idea that the two products will work together to be more effective. The term has been defined as "a mixture of prebiotic and probiotic that beneficially affects the host by promoting the survival and implantatoin of live microbial dietary supplements in the gastrointestinal tract, by selectively stimulating the growth and/or by activating the metabolism of one or a number of health-promoting bacteria." (Farnworth at 38).
Fermentation Increases Antioxidant Content
We hear a lot about antioxidants. We probably know that plants, especially fruits, berries, and veggies have very high amounts of antioxidants. But what, exactly are antioxidants, and why do we need them? Essentially, antioxidants neutralize, i.e., make ineffective, free radicals, preventing them from reacting with, and causing damage to our cells, DNA, lipids, proteins, and other important molecules in our body. The damage caused by free radicals can result in accelerated ageing, cancer, and numerous other diseases and ailments.
Fermentation of foods increases their antioxidant power in a couple of ways. One way is by increasing the bioavailability of antioxidants in foods. In other words, plant foods are loaded with antioxidants, but fermentation makes many of the antioxidants more usable for our bodies. For example, bacteria used to ferment cabbage can release bonded phenolic compounds (found only in plants), and also hydrolyze them, making the phenols even more effective as antioxidants. More than 8,000 phenolic compounds have been discovered in plants. They have an incredible array of health benefits, mostly in connection with the antioxidant properties. Fermenting helps our bodies get the full benefit of these compounds. (Frias at 63-68).
Fermentation can also result in creation of antioxidants that were not present in the food originally. Specific examples of this are seen in studies done on red cabbage, milk, herbs, sweet potato, and rice.
What Is a Free Radical?
A free radical is an oxygen-containing molecule with one or more unpaired electrons orbiting around it. Free radicals are formed when a molecule is broken during a chemical reaction, with each fragment getting a "free" electron. These fragment molecules, i.e., free radicals, are "unstable" because the free electron makes them very reactive with other molecules in our body. Similar to free radicals are molecules called oxidants, which easily create free radicals. They contain at least one oxygen atom, and are a bit more stable than a free radical because they do not have a free electron. But oxidants are still very reactive, leading to free radical formation in living organisms.
Where Do Free Radicals Come From?
They come from a few places:
1.) inside our cells, via enzymatic and non-enzymatic reactions, with the latter mainly via aerobic respiration by our mitochondria;
2.) within our bodies via inflammation, intense exercise, infection, aging, etc.; and
3.) what we ingest or are exposed to (e.g., alcohol, cigarette smoke, polluted air and water, fat, smoked meat, radiation).
Are All Free Radicals Bad?
No. Not all, contrary to popular belief. Free radicals perform many critical functions. Our bodies actually use free radicals as weapons to kill pathogenic, i.e., disease-causing, microbes. Radicals are also used in cellular signaling systems, modulating blood flow and neural activity, killing tumors, and stimulating cellular division (a.k.a., mitogenic induction).
Finally, research shows that some free radicals are critical to "activating or modulating redox-sensitive cellular signaling pathways." Yeah. Your eyes just glazed over, didn't they? Mine, too. This sounds complicated, so I'm not going into it much. Basically, some free radicals are needed for this chemical pathway. The pathway controls cell differentiation, and normal cell death (a.k.a., apoptosis). This article goes into it.
Although some free radicals are critical, we run into problems when there are too many.
Too Many Free Radicals Are Bad. Real Bad.
Free radicals can negatively affect almost any cellular component; they don't discriminate. When our body contains more free radicals and oxidants than it can use and destroy, we suffer from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress results in alteration of cell membranes, lipids, proteins, DNA, and other structures. For example, the oxidation of cell membranes results in compounds that are both toxic to cells and cancer-causing. When proteins are oxidized, enzymatic activity (enzymes are made from proteins) is adversely affected, which can cause a cascade of issues. Oxidation of DNA can lead to mutations, which can lead to cancer. In sum, oxidative stress is bad, and, especially over the long-term, can lead to accelerated ageing, inflammation, and numerous diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease (e.g., Alzheimer's, Parkinson's), pulmonary (lung) disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, nephropathy (e.g., kidney failure), ocular disease (e.g., cataracts, macular degeneration), and fetal development issues.
Antioxidants Keep Free Radicals in Check
We need antioxidants so that free radicals and oxidants don't get too...well...radical! Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and oxidants, thereby preventing them from doing damage. Antioxidants do this in one of two ways: prevention or "chain-breaking."
Prevention means an antioxidant enzyme prevents the oxidation reaction from happening by neutralizing the free radical that initiates the reaction, or stabilizing metal transition radicals in the reaction, such as copper and iron.
Chain-breaking means that a (non-enzymatic) antioxidant breaks the chain of radical formation. In other words, a free radical stabilizes itself by finding a molecule and stealing, or giving, that molecule an electron. This, however, creates another radical, which then does the same thing to another molecule. This free radical chain reaction of damage can be stopped by an antioxidant that "breaks the chain" of radical formation.
Where Do Antioxidants Come From?
We get antioxidants from a few sources. Our body creates enzymatic antioxidants. These enzymes break down free radicals and oxidants. Our body also produces antioxidants by way of metabolic pathways. Finally, we ingest antioxidants by way of food. Deficiency of antioxidants from food is thought to be one of the main causes of chronic and degenerative diseases. Most antioxidants are found in plants, especially fruits, berries, and vegetables. Some antioxidant examples are Vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene (high in cooked tomatoes), and flavonoids. Some antioxidants are found in plant and animal foods, such as zinc, selenium, omega 3 and 6, and Vitamin E.
As mentioned earlier, a huge source of antioxidants come from plants, in the form of phenolic compounds. The most-studied type of phenolic compounds are the flavonoids. Over 7,000 flavonoids have been identified to date, making up about 2/3 of the known phenolic compounds. The number increases continuously, as does the research into the complex and intricate chemical pathways in which these compounds are used. They react easily with free radicals, thereby negating free radical damage. Flavonoids, as with phenolic compounds generally, have anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic (anti-mutation), and anti-carcinogenic properties. They also modulate key cellular enzyme functions.
Fermenting Microorganisms Synthesize Lots of Good Stuff
Our cells use something called the Nrf2 (a.k.a., NFE2L2) cell defense pathway to protect against oxidative stress and disorders such as cancer and neurodegeneration. For this pathway to function at full power, it needs chemical additives called co-factors. Some plants, such as brassicas (e.g., broccoli, kale, collards, and cabbage) contain one such co-factor called sulfurophane.
A recent study showed that certain chemicals--types of catechols--also trigger this Nrf2 pathway. Lactic acid-producing bacteria called Lactobacillus, which are found in fermented foods, convert phenols, which are found in plants, into these catechol co-factors. (Lactobacillus bacteria are the main ones used in making sauerkraut, sour pickles, kimchi, and other sour, lactic-acid forming fermentations.) The researchers postulate that the loss of fermented foods in our diets, and the resulting negative consequences to the Nrf2 pathway, may be a factor in many of the chronic diseases seen in modern society.
Also, during sauerkraut fermentation, the glucosinolates--found in great quantity in brassicas, such as white cabbage--are turned into indoles and isothiocyanates, which are highly-reactive, anti-cancer compounds. (Farnworth at 409).
Biopeptides are found in fermented dairy, legume, cereal, meat, and fish-derived products. Antihypertensive, antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, anticancer, antithrombotic, opioid, and antioxidant activities are some of the biological activities attributed to peptides of fermented foods. These peptides are produced, or rather released, when fermenting bacteria and other microorganisms break down animal and plant proteins, releasing peptides, which are molecules made up of between two and twenty amino acids residues. Biopeptides are involved in the health of numerous bodily systems, including cardiovascular, nervous, gastrointestinal, and immune. (Frias at 23-47).
Lactate, a.k.a., Lactic Acid
Lactic acid fermentation is extremely important. Most of the food we eat undergoes lactic acid fermentation. Bacteria ferment sugars and indigestible carbs, such as fiber, and produce lactic acid as one of the many by-products. If a fermented food has a sour taste (e.g., sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, sourdough bread, fermented pickles, soy sauce, miso...), then it likely is lactic acid. Lactic acid lowers the pH of the brine/solution in which the foods are fermenting, thereby preserving the foods by assuring that pathogenic (bad) bacteria are not able to grow.
In addition to preserving food, it is being discovered that lactic acid has numerous health benefits. Studies show that lactate may work to control inflammation in the intestine, help control immune function of epithelial cells lining our intestines as well as helping to maintain the intestinal barrier. Also, on the cellular level, lactate may influence gene expression, signaling pathways, and metabolic pathways, such as glycolysis. Lactate also serves as an energy source for some of our gut bacteria.
Bacterial fermentations can, depending on the strain of bacteria, result in the formation of B vitamins, including folate (B6), riboflavin (B2), and B12, in addition to Vitamin K. The amount of vitamins produced depends on the food being fermented, and the strain(s) of fermenting microorganisms.
Vitamin B6 (folate) acts as a coenzyme in the synthesis, interconversion, and modification of nucleotides, amino acids and other key cellular components. Lactic acid bacteria used to ferment vegetables, cultures used to ferment dairy, fungus used to make tempeh from soy beans, and yeast that creates beer, are all examples of fermentations resulting in higher levels of folate. Folate can be greatly reduced, however, during heat treatment and pasteurization. (Frias at 132-38).
Vitamin B2 is a powerful antioxidant that is also involved in supporting the immune and nervous system, forming cells such as red blood cells, and activating folate and pyridoxine. Again, the amount of B2 in fermented foods depends on the strains of bacteria fermenting the food. (Frias at 148-50).
Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in amino acid and fatty acid metabolism, and in DNA and hemoglobin synthesis. B12 is only produced by microorganisms. The amount of B12 produced during fermentation depends on the food being fermented, and the strain(s) of fermenting microorganisms used. (Frias at 150-51). (Humans get B12 primarily by way of meat and dairy from ruminants. Vitamin B12 is only made by microorganisms. Ruminants (e.g., cows, sheep, goats, etc.) get all of their B12 from the anaerobic bacteria in their guts that are fermenting the large amounts of plants, such as grass, that they consume. The B12 is absorbed and stored in the flesh and milk of the animals.)
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a critical role in blood coagulation, i.e., clotting. Studies into vitamin K content of foods is just beginning. In regards to fermented foods, vitamin K content depends on the strains of bacteria, with some strains of LAB, for example, producing high concentrations. (Frias at 139-48).
Three types of microbial polysaccharides are created during fermentation: lipo-, capsular, and exopolysaccharides (EPS). EPSs are of special interest because they protect against adverse environmental conditions, and help in adhesion, cell to cell interactions, biofilm formation, and also serve as energy reserves. (Frias at 50). EPSs are retained for an extended time in the digestive tract, helping ingested probiotics to colonize the colon. In addition, ESPs have significant roles in human health, including antimicrobial and immunomodulatory properties, antiviral, anticancer, cholesterol lowering, antioxidant, and antihypertensive activities. (Frias at 49-59).
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acids (GABAs)
Our bodies produce some GABA on its own. Many plant foods contain small amounts of GABA. But fermented foods have a large amount of GABA. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and yeasts are the most important GABA producers. The full extent of what GABA does is not fully known, but it is definitely an important molecule. It has been used to treat anxiety, sleeplessness, and depression. It is found in high levels in the brain where it is thought to enhance cognition. It is thought to protect against chronic kidney disease. Many studies show that it reduces blood pressure. It is a powerful secretor of insulin, and therefore may help prevent diabetes. In regards to cancer, studies indicate that it can delay or prevent spread of cancer and stimulate cancer cell death. It can help cells maintain regular function under UV stress, and it can affect the control of asthma and breathing. It plays a role in thyroid functions, and, therefore, may play a role in obesity. It also plays a large role in the function of our gastrointestinal tract as evidenced by its abundance in the nerves inside our intestines, where it acts as an endocrine mediator and neurotransmitter. Therefore, eating GABA-rich fermented foods is a great way to increase GABA levels, and improve our health. (Frias at 85-103).
Melatonin is found in all living things, with plant tissue containing the highest amount. In humans, it was thought that the only source of melatonin was the pineal gland, which was stimulated to create and secrete it based on light exposure to the eyes. We now know that various cells and organs in the body produce melatonin (e.g., skin, bone marrow, red blood cells, etc.). The intestinal tract also produces it.
Melatonin performs numerous functions. In animals, melatonin affects mood, sleep, sexual behavior, immunological status, among other things. It is a powerful antioxidant, reducing ageing, UV damage to skin, and enhancing resistance to infection and diseases such as cardiovascular disease. There is evidence that melatonin is crucial in inhibiting cancer initiation and growth. It may play a role in obesity due to its role in regulating energy expenditure. Low, insufficient levels of melatonin have been linked to Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, and insomnia.
The research into melatonin creation in various foods is just beginning. There is difficulty in melatonin extraction and measurement techniques. That said, melatonin production via bacterial fermentation has been patented in the United States. Also, increased melatonin in yeast fermentations, such as wine, beer, bread, and fermented orange juice has been confirmed. (Frias at 105-29). In sum, plants naturally have melatonin, and fermentation most likely increases it. Good reasons to eat fermented plant foods!
LAB bacteria have been shown to create enzymes that break down carbohydrates. These enzymes are able to withstand the acidic environment created by lactic acid. They may also aid in digestion. These enzymes also impart flavors and smells, such as those found in wines and cheeses.
Fermentation can also result in the creation of amino acids. This in addition to GABA and peptides--created via fermentation--both of which also consist of amino acids. (See, generally, Frias for more information on types amino acids created during specific fermentations.)
The health benefits of fermented foods are vast. These benefits are great reasons to include fermented foods into your diet, aside from the new flavors and textures that they offer. For more detail on the subject of the health benefits of fermented foods, check out this detailed book:
Frias, Juanas, et al. Fermented Foods in Health and Disease Prevention. Academic Press, 2017. (Available online, here.)
● Preservation via Fermentation
● Ferment Before Eating
● The "Biotics" of Fermented Foods
● Fermentation Increases Antioxidant Content
What is a free radical?
Where do free radicals come from?
Not all free radicals are bad.
But too many free radicals is bad. Real bad.
Where do antioxidants come from?
● Fermenting Microorganisms Synthesize Lots of Good Stuff
Lactate, a.k.a., Lactic Acid
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acids (GABAs)