I’ve been a fan of bacteria for a long time. I gave probiotics to my son and they helped him recover from waaaay too many antibiotics given to him as a baby (repeated ear infections).
The bacteria that survived these antibiotics ate his little baby teeth in short order. As in “Oh, Honey, you have a little cavity, we’ll have to take you to the dentist soon.” Then, a month or two later, he had cavities down to his gums. It was not a proud mommy moment when I had to take my son to get 4 crowns when he was 4 years old.
His digestive symptoms were horrible. And he also got a bad case of warts all over his hands and other areas of his body, including his chin! When I gave him probiotic supplements for all of these issues, the warts went away in a few months. 80% of your immune system is actually located in your digestive tract!
So while I knew about probiotics, it never occurred to me to grow them in my own kitchen. It sounds kind of risky, doesn’t it? But then my friend gave me some kefir grains to make my own kefir. When I was doing research about kefir, I found out that most traditional cultures prepare fermented foods.
Fermenting preserves food and helps digestion. I talked to people who weren’t raised in this country and I found out that most of them eat some sort of fermented food and swear by the health benefits. Sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, kvass, kimchi, cortido, and homemade yogurt are examples. But we “civilized” people prefer to be sanitized :).
I heard about kombucha, and I was just getting ready to try some when they pulled it off of the market. I decided I HAD to try it to see what the big deal was, right? So as soon as it reappeared in my Fred Meyer health food section, I bought some. I was pretty sad when I tasted it. It just tasted like vinegar to me, but I had paid $3.00 for it so I decided to drink it anyway. About half way through I suddenly got this relaxed yet energized feeling. I was hooked! I know what you’re thinking, it was NOT the teensy bit of alcohol in it. This energy and good feeling lasted for the rest of the day. So I hunted down a SCOBY on Craigslist and started brewing my own. I like it with ginger juice. Yum!
I also ferment organic vegetables like cucumbers, beets, cabbage, carrots, onion, etc. If they aren’t organic they don’t ferment well. Pesticides? Bleach?
My favorite veggie recipe is this one:
Cortido (adapted from: Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon)
- 1 large cabbage, cored and shredded
- 1 cup carrots, grated
- 2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and very finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves of pressed garlic
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
I chop everything up and put it in mason jars to ferment for 4-7 days. I wait until it tastes “pickled”, then I put it in the refrigerator when it tastes like I want it to. Some folks use air lock jars or crocks.
If you’re interested in making your own kitchen experiments, I suggest joining the Wild Fermentation Facebook group. They ferment everything imaginable.
You see, fermented foods like kombucha and sauerkraut can repopulate your gut bacteria (and beneficial yeast). And they also have detoxifying acids that can assist your liver. These two things alone are HUGELY important in managing depression/anxiety!
There is a lot going on in our gut that scientists have discovered just in the past few years. They’ve discovered that gut bacteria manufacture most of the serotonin in the body. GABA is manufactured in our gut, too.
Depression is also influenced by inflammatory cytokines. The inflammation is caused by things that stress the body. Heavy metals,toxins, and sub-clinical infection are a few things that can put the immune system on high alert to try to get rid of the threats to the body. Kombucha and fermented veggies contain acids to assist the liver in detoxifying these substances. Then good microbes in the foods safely shuttle the toxins out of your body.
Thanks, Detoxify Your Life, for the link love :). Go check out Karen’s blog on her experiences with brewing her own kombucha!
This post was shared on Healing with Food Friday.