Fermented Foods – Looking After Your Digestive System
The way that food is produced together with the changes of behaviour around cooking and eating, have profoundly altered meal times. Often we are too rushed to think about the consequences of what and how we are eating.
Recent cutting edge Western research has given Traditional Chinese medicine a new perspective on thousands of years of ancient wisdom. We now know that the origins of many diseases are in the gut and in today’s world we can no longer ignore the effects of superbugs (anti-biotic resistant), toxic foods, and changing lifestyles.
The digestive system in Chinese medicine has always been seen for centuries as a vital key in treating many health disorders, now we have the evidence. The gut is at the centre of the development of complex modern illnesses such as autoimmune diseases, AIDS, chronic allergies, leaky gut syndrome and food sensitivities. Together with digestive imbalances such as IBS, constipation, heartburn, reflux, Crohns Disease, and Celiac Disease, to name a handful.
Kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso and kefir – all fermented foods and drinks – have been around for centuries, but suddenly they are all the rage. The reason? They are supposedly packed full of gut-healthy microorganisms, and we are finally waking up to the trillions of microorganisms that live in our guts (AKA the gut microbiome).
Harbouring a flourishing gut flora has been linked to lower obesity, fewer autoimmune conditions and digestion problems, longer lifespan, and good brain function. Read on to find out how to improve yours…
Make & Eat Probiotic Foods Daily
Kefir is one of the highest probiotic foods you can eat to support our guts ‘microbiome ‘- our personal mix of gut bacteria – and homemade kefir far outranks any store-bought variety. Current research supports the use of Kephir daily to improve IBS and digestive issues, mood and energy levels and to dampens down inflammation throughout the body, such as in allergic skin conditions like excaema. It also boosts immunity which can impact the state of your daily life and health dramatically.
Kefir is made using starter “grains,” which in reality are a combination of bacteria and yeasts that interact with the milk to make the lightly fermented drink that even lactose intolerant people can drink! It can be made from any source of milk, such as goat, sheep, cow, soy, rice or coconut. It can even be made using coconut water. kefir is a probiotic food that contains many bioactive compounds, including as many as 30 strains of good bacteria that help fight against ill health and disease.
Life Rituals Kefir Making Kits are easy to use and perfect to brew your own PRO BIOTIC DRINK milk kefir and water kefir. The kit combines a specifically designed glass jar, with swizzle stick, and printed booklet with 30+ recipes and squeezer to get you started making your own pro – biotic drink.
The Kefhir Making Kit has been specifically designed to make home kefir making as simple as possible. Simply add kefir grains and your liquid of choice (milk or sugar water).
Eat Fermented Foods – Kimchi, Sauerkraut – Daily
Fermented foods, have finally started to get the mass media attention they deserve. We are very excited because we’ve got our hands on some Fermenting Starter Kits. The kit is a great way to get started and takes the ‘fear’ out of the fermentation process…..zero maintenance.
The live bacteria or probiotics contained in fermented foods are certainly great for our digestive tracts – they restore the proper balance of bacteria in gut (diminished from years of gobbling antibiotic drugs and chlorine-laced tap water); are rich in enzymes, vitamins and nutrients; and because they’re already breaking down, ferments are easier to digest and help the digestive system run much more smoothly. In that respect, eating fermented foods is a bit like having an oil change for your stomach. You can create all kinds of fermented foods from kimchi to sauerkraut with our starter kits.
Let’s start with one of the easiest recipes to make with the starter kit; Kimchi; Its packed full of antioxidants and has 1000 times more lactobacillus than yogurt so it’s amazing for your gut and digestion; Many Koreans credit kimchi for their long lives and statistically, Koreans boast one of the lowest cancer rates in the world. Baechu, or napa cabbage, kimchi is made by lacto-fermentation, the same process that creates sauerkraut and traditional dill pickles. In the first stage, the cabbage is soaked in a salty brine that kills off harmful bacteria. In the second stage, the remaining Lactobacillus bacteria (the good guys!) convert sugars into lactic acid, which preserves the vegetables and gives them that wonderful, tangy flavour.
Kimchi with our starter kit…
Simply shred a napa cabbage, add chilli (we used Korean Choripdong Red Pepper Powder for Kimchi (Coarse) , garlic, ginger, scallions, brine (salt & water), fish sauce to flavour. Next we pushed down in the jar so it’s covered, then … now we leave it out for a month. The one-way valve allows CO2 to escape, while preventing oxygen and contaminants from reaching the cabbage, so it can’t mould. The flip–top lid makes the jar really makes it zero-maintenance – there’s no daily “burping” and you can easily unscrew and test for taste; when it’s tangy enough, push the lid down and refrigerate.
The kimchi keeps for a year – start eating it every day!
**Fermenting Kit Includes: Silver Wide reCAP POUR Cap, 24 ounce Mason Jar, reCAP Fermenter (waterless airlock + stopper), 4 ounce Mason Jar Weight, 2.5 ounce packet of Himalayan Pink Salt, instruction guide and 3 recipes for beginners (Ginger Carrots, Hot Sauce, & Salsa) + free download to eBook with 9 unique fermentation recipes!
Feed Your Gut Biome with Pre Biotic Food
If you were to view your microbiome as a garden, fibre would be your fertiliser. Foods containing the best fibre types for your microbes are called prebiotic foods which include artichokes, jerusalem artichokes, leeks, celery, chicory, onions and garlic. Variety is the top priority – the person who eats more diversity of plants in a week is the key…eating a rich diversity of food with occasional meat. This could just as easily be a way of describing the Mediterranean diet, with its kaleidoscope of fruit, veg, nuts, grains and legumes.
If you are inspired to consume more fibre, it’s best to start slowly especially if you have digestive problems – or you could end up with uncomfortable bloating and wind. Each gut is unique and one diet doesn’t fit all, so if you change your eating habits to no avail, try something else. You are on the right track, if you notice a change in your bowel habit. After a couple of days, your stools will get softer and you’ll be going more regularly. That’s a sign your microbes have changed for the better, and though they are working harder, they are happier.
Drink more Green Tea
One of the most exciting things about green tea is that its antimicrobial activities appear to be highly selective—so it goes after undesirable organisms, while leaving beneficial flora unscathed ! A number of studies have been undertaken to determine how green tea affects the gut, and the results either showed no harmful change, or that microbial composition was significantly improved with increased numbers of desirable species, including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.
One important reason green tea may help boost probiotic numbers (in addition to antimicrobial selectivity) is that it turns out to be an effective prebiotic—providing the perfect nutrition for your good bacteria to thrive. Green tea lets you enjoy the best of both worlds—supporting the good guys in your microbial community, while eating rid of the other unwanted bacterias.
We use Sencha Organic Green Tea in our Energising Ritual Tea combined with other carefully selected ingredients to help keep your mind and senses sharp and operating at optimum levels during stressful periods. Apart from the ‘super’ anti-oxident green tea, there are other reasons why this blend supports adrenal health and calms the nervous system, making it beneficial for alleviating stress in people who feel strung-out, and exhausted at the same time.
So, hopefully inspired to make your own probiotic food and drink we highly recommend the book Fermented with delicious recipes that are easily achievable at home. Chapters covering fruit and vegetables, milk, pulses, sourdough baking and drinks will introduce you to unique new flavours as well as traditional fermented vegetables such as German Sauerkraut and Korean Kimchi. The author Charlotte Pike is a UK based food writer. Charlotte’s recipes are simple, delicious and really work.
And Finally Relax
Your digestion begins when our body is anticipating food. The smell and sight of food activate our salivary glands and prepare the pancreas to release digestive enzymes. Digestion is facilitated by the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated by relaxation, the sympathetic by action. When we eat food ‘on the run’ or come to the table stressed the sympathetic nervous system is dominant and energy and blood are shunted away from the digestive system toward the brain and muscles. Eating in a relaxed state benefits digestion, if we eat mindfully, savouring and appreciating our food, we notice when we are full.
Relaxation can also include attending to posture. If we eat slumped in an armchair or lying down we can interfere with the simple mechanics of digestion. The digestive organs don’t like to be compressed.
In Chinese medicine we understand that emotions and states of mind impact our Qi. Worry, the emotion associated with our digestive system, binds the Qi. This manifests as tension in the digestive system and inhibits our ability to digest information or emotions and indeed our food. Anger causes our Qi to rise. As digestion requires downward movement Chinese medicine eating when angry is not good for you.