Got several emails last night from various readers, asking about my remark on fermented foods and satiety, or the feeling of fullness (or at least the feeling of not being hungry, which is probably most precise). How exactly do fermented foods create that sensation? they all want to know. If I knew the answer to that question I wouldn’t be here manning this cyber-popsicle stand, I’ll tell you that. I’d be a millionaire food product designer, captain of the weight-loss industry, with my own multi-billion dollar line of books, supplements, bars, snacks and entrees. The world would be at my feet! The Joe Pastry Diet!!
Back on planet Earth, food scientists the world over are looking for the answer to the question: what makes us full? That or the converse question: what makes us want to eat? The answers aren’t as obvious as one might think, especially when you dig down into the realm of biochemical signals. But fermented foods have definitely captured the attention of food scientists in recent years, with more than a few hoping to strike the motherload in the diet foods gold rush.
Theories as to why fermented foods seem to fill us up are legion. Some claim that it’s the live microbes that do it, stimulating our guts to produce certain peptides that tell the brain it’s time to stop eating. Others claim it’s the by-products of those microbes, particularly acetic acid, which one German scientist found to be particularly satisfying among his experimental eating group. Trouble was that group, which consumed not sourdough bread but foods containing vinegar (a condiment rife with acetic acid), was made up of only twelve people. Not exactly a definitive study. So the search goes on, with more scientists feeding more people bits of fermented this-and-that and asking them how full they feel. That would drive me crazy, which is why odds are remote in the extreme that you’ll ever see a package of frozen lasagna with my smiling face on it.