Many people don’t realise how fermented food helps your health but there is an ‘underground’ society of people that do and this movement is getting stronger 🙂
I’ve been into probiotics for some time and have always wanted to learn how to make my own fermented foods like kefir, sourdough bread, sauerkraut and the fermeted drink, Kombucha. And recently I went on a workshop in Shoreham, West Sussex to do that so I will share that with you in this post.
Did you know your gut is referred to as your second brain? Your gut is very important to your overall wellbeing. There is ever growing evidence to the effect it has on your mental and physical health. Improving your gut health will give you better immunity, more efficient digestion and less stress. Because your digestion is better you will have more energy – yay.
In your gut there are trillions of bacteria that help you process food, produce nutrients, and fight disease. You might remember seeing adverts on TV about ‘healthy bacteria’ and this is what I am talking about here.
A great book on the subject is Gut by
There are three things you need to do to look after your gut bacteria
- Make sure you have enough good bacteria
- Make sure that they survive
- Don’t deplete them
1 – You put healthy bacteria in by eating probiotic foods that contain them.
2 – You preserve them by eating probiotic foods that support them.
3 – You protect them by being aware of what depletes them and that is stress, antibiotics, steroid medications and stomach bugs.
So what can you do to improve your gut health?
You can take a probiotic supplement or eat probiotic food like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, coconut kefir, yoghurt, kefir and apple cider vinegar.
You can eat prebiotic whole foods. Certain foods feed and support the growth of good bacteria. Raw onions, garlic, dandelion greens, artichokes and bananas are some of the best.
Keep hydrated. Your gut needs water to keep bacteria and waste moving through your digestive system, which will help prevent constipation and bloating. Dehydration affects your bacteria balance.
Eat less sugar as it feeds bad bacteria and you are more interested in the good ones.
Reduce your stress levels. Stress makes your brain go into fight or flight mode, causing your digestion and blood flow in the gut to slow down and digestion is not as effective.
Making fermented foods which help your gut bacteria
Making fermented foods is an interesting experience and when the scoby comes out that’s exciting! I learnt at a workshop with my local Homoeopath, Therese Eriksen
During the workshop we made:
Sauerkraut – a kind of pickled vegetable. We made red cabbage and another of carrot and ginger. You can have a little bit on the side of practically any meal to add some lovely flavour. It keeps well too.
Sourdough bread – a bread make without yeast which some people find easier to digest. Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe the world is your bread basket as you can add herbs, cheese, sundried tomatoes. YUM
Milk Kefir – A ‘live’ drink that you make from grains (main blog picture). You can drink it straight if you are hard core or make smoothies with it or flavour it.
Kambucha – Is the tea teetotallers champagne! It’s made with a scoby which I have put a picture of below. It’s a weird disc thing that you put in tea to make the Kambucha but then it takes on a life of its own and grows!
In Copenhagen Kambucha is readily available, they know it helps them get Hyggey 🙂
Let the fermenting commence!
So now my kitchen is full of kilner jars doing their different things. I’m so excited about having fermented foods in my life that I’ve made myself.
One of my guiding principles of life is to cradle my health (mental and physical) like a newborn baby. Not in an obssessive way, but it’s very high up my values list. I want enough energy to fulfil my dreams and enjoy my family. But I am conscious this takes effort and thought. Effort in the sense of eating right and making time for exercise. And thought recognising when thinks are out of balance and addressing it.
In life, the effort has to be worth the reward. I am going to try to maintain my fermented food supplies as the reward is better health and more energy. That has to be worth it!
If you want to learn how to make fermented foods with the Therese you can book through her website or Facebook page.
Our third guest blogger is Claire Hunt from Worthing. Claire is at Breathing Spaces Garden Therapy which is a Community Interest Company in Worthing. Here Claire shares healthy eating that works for her.
Healthy Eating – 10 Things That Work for Me by Claire Hunt
1. Start the day with a home-made probiotic smoothie
Pictured – kefir
My digestion and health has improved massively since I started eating milk kefir for breakfast. It’s quick and easy to make your own from a starter culture of probiotic bacteria and yeast. Just add whole milk, leave for 24 hours, strain and top up again with fresh milk. I add seasonal or frozen fruit, green leaves, ground seeds like hemp, linseed or chia, bee pollen, coconut oil and almond butter. A great start to the day for your gut. I have been known to take it with me when I am away, but you can rest it in the fridge for a couple of weeks. You pass on some kefir grains to other people as they multiply. (People with a lactose intolerance would need to take advice.)
2. Reduce sugar intake
Pictured – plate of fruit
I had to do this because of recurrent candida but it is increasingly accepted that sugar is bad for your health, addictive and makes us put on weight. It’s added to so many foodstuffs, even savoury ones. Refined sugar is worse, but all sugar, even naturally occurring ones, have the same effect on your brain and body, so go easy on all forms. I eat mainly low-sugar fruits, like berries and apples, and over time your sweet tooth loosens its grip. I occasionally relax the rule for something special or an occasion but I don’t enjoy really sweet things now.
3. Take a break from wheat and gluten
Pictured – My ‘superfood bread’
The debate about gluten intolerance rumbles on, but I found that when I stopped eating wheat and gluten grains I felt better, my digestion improved, I had more energy, and I stopped having arthritis-like pain in my hands. I love bread, pizza and pasta, so it has been hard. I sometimes eat home-baked spelt bread and quality sourdough but mainly make a substitute ‘Superfood Bread’ from ground almonds, brown rice flour and seeds (‘Deliciously Ella’). Brown rice pasta is not too bad, but on the whole I prefer to eat something else rather than feel disappointed. Beware gluten-free ready-made products, they can contain a lot of sugar, and starch that quickly turns to sugar. For reference, read ‘Wheat Belly’ and ‘Gut’.
4. Do more cooking
Pictured – tray baked code with vegetables and pizzas going into a cob oven
If you want to avoid sugar, wheat and gluten it becomes inevitable that you have to do more cooking and baking so you can control what you eat. You have to find ingredients and some recipes that you love, get into a mindset that enjoys and makes time for cooking as a priority, rather than feel it is a chore. There are some great books available – Deliciously Ella, Eat Nourish Glow, Medicinal Chef. By Ella Woodward, Dale Pinnock and Amelia Freer
5. Find some go-to treats
Pictured – energy balls
You need some things up your sleeve for when you need a treat. Mine are home-made muffins (Wheat Belly), fruity flapjack (Medicinal Cook)., raw cacao energy bombs and homemade almond butter (Deliciously Ella).
6. Grow and eat a rainbow
Pictured – homegrown vegetables and apples
I am not vegetarian but I eat a lot of veg, when it is in its season, and trying to get as much of the rainbow into each meal as possible to cover all the different nutrients that those colours represent. I use a local veg box scheme and I try to grow some of my own. Growing, cooking and eating well go satisfyingly together and each complements the other. Mental Health Awareness Week, Offington Park Church, has a Gardening and Health theme on Monday 10th October and a Food and Mood theme on Wednesday 12th October.
7. Embrace different grains
Pictured – quinoa
Quinoa is tasty once you learn to cook and flavour it well and it is full of protein not gluten. Use cold water, twice as much water as grain, and cook until all the water has gone (about 10 mins). I mix in tahini, lemon and olive oil when it has cooled and you can add herbs, spices etc to taste. I make a batch that will last three days so it is ready cooked when I need it. Buckwheat flour makes great pancakes, and you can toast the grains and then cook like rice.
8. Eat more mindfully
Instead of eating on the move, watching TV, reading a book or chatting, try eating at least one meal a day when you are fully present and doing nothing else than experiencing eating. Really notice what is happening, the smell, taste, texture. Also notice what effect different foods might have on your body and mood. Read ‘The De-Stress Effect’, Charlotte Watts.
9. Explore fermented food
Pictured – Making sauerkraut
Kefir and sourdough are fermented food but there are lots of others to try and the health benefits are well documented. I am currently making and drinking beetroot kvass by fermenting beetroots in salt water for 6 days. I have started brewing kombucha, a delicious fizzy drink made from tea. Sauerkraut and kimchi are easy to make, probiotic and tasty alternatives to pickles and chutney. Apple cider vinegar is a great way to use windfall apples and retains the goodness of the fermentation process, the ‘mother’.
10. Enjoy food
I mostly don’t feel it’s a sacrifice or that I am denying myself to avoid food that isn’t good for me. I enjoy food and drink made from good quality ingredients with time, care and passion. For more ideas about gardening therapy, food and wellness, come and see Breathing Spaces We Are Food Pioneers and other foodies and growers at Green Dreams, October 2nd, Field Place.
A note from Honey….
Thank you Claire for those fantastic ideas and pictures.
What this blog is:
- This is a 30 day blog about health eating where different people will share their thoughts and experience
- This is a non-judgmental place of inspiration
- This is a place to learn, pick up tips and think about your own eating
What this blog isn’t:
- This isn’t a weight loss plan. Although losing weight is often a by-product of eating a healthier diet! I do help people lose weight with Hypnotherapy but that is not the purpose of this blog.
- It isn’t a place to feel regret about the situation of your health right now. Today is a chance to make changes!
Do you know what you are eating?
Yesterday’s product was caramel digestives.
Can you guess today’s product from it’s ingredients?
Let us know in the blog or facebook comments! I will let you know the answer here tomorrow.
Here’s the plan:
- Read the blog each day. Get involved. comment, share your thoughts and wisdom
- If you want to be accountable and use this as an opportunity to improve your diet and see how much better you can feel in just 30 days then go for it
- Find me on Facebook, my website, on twitter
- Sign up to my newsletter at the bottom of this blog for a free relaxing download and special offers
See you tomorrow.
Healthy hug 🙂