Have you ever wondered how people used to look after their guts in the old days? Well the answer was pretty simple: They ate fermented foods that kept their gut flora happy, and this was, pardon the pun, the culture. Over processed foods did not exist and you can bet that digestive diseases such as colon cancer, diverticulitis and Coaelic disease were a lot less prevalent than now.
Foods that have been fermented have been partially broken down by live organisms, making them easier to digest. As a result, they are good source of natural probiotic bacteria, as well as enzymes that further aid the digestive process and can help clean up the gut and keep it in good working order.
The gut is often referred to as ‘The 2nd Brain” so keeping it in good health can transform your emotional health too. Did you know that it has the same biological tissues as the brain and actually produces MORE serotonin? And it goes without saying that any toxic build up in the gut will be detrimental to all bodily processes, especially the all-important immune system. The good news is that there has been a recent return to these ancient traditions and its possible to not only buy fermented goods, but can easily make your own at home. There are basically 3 types: Fermented Milks, Fermented Vegetables and Fermented Breads.
Fermented Milks: Live yoghurt and kefir, the stronger drinking version, originated in Eastern Europe and India. You can find kefir in Polish supermarkets, but to make your own, buy some kefir grains on-line or from a health food shop and add to organic milk in a large sterilized jar. The kefir grains will feed off the lactose in milk and help breakdown the proteins, making them easier to digest. Follow the instructions and within 2-3days you will be able to strain off this precious liquid and enjoy an amazing pro-biotic boost, which is great in smoothies.
Fermented Vegetables: Containing an extraordinary range of probiotic bacteria, sauerkraut and it’s spicier Korean version kimchi can be simply made from any vegetable, such as cabbage, cucumber or carrot, salt and spices, such as turmeric, dill or chilli. Studies show fermented vegetables can also reduce blood pressure and promote more regular bowel movements due to the cleansing effect. Look out for stalls at farmer’s markets, which might also sell the fermented health drink kombucha, and stock up. One pot will last several weeks in your fridge.
Fermented Breads: Sourdough is teaming with good bacteria & natural wild yeasts which makes them easier to digest. The average supermarket loaf contains bakers yeasts, which simply allow the bread to rise and as well as being super-refined, the grains are often contaminated with preservatives and conditioners. So don’t give up on bread just yet: find an artisan bakers that makes its own sourdough bread and enjoy the occasional slice for breakfast. Alternatively, ask me for some of my sourdough starter and grow your own!
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