fermented foods

THE "super" raw food: lacto-ferments

Ferments are everywhere these days! Go to any farmers market  and you will see booths selling everything from pickles to kimchi. People are starting to brew their own kombucha and pickle their carrots, turnips, and beets. Why are these foods suddenly trendy, when they have been a part of traditional diets around the globe for hundreds and thousands of years? Once again, science is backing up the wisdom of the past. There has been a shift in understanding about our bodies. Where once it was thought that the gut was sterile, science now points to it being a veritable wonderland of microbes and bacteria. Our health depends on maintaining a proper balance of intestinal flora. And lacto-fermented foods are a wonderful source of enzymes and good bacteria! This knowledge has sent people rushing back to eating fermented foods, since fermentation not only preserves the food, but also improves its nutritional content and the bio-availability of its nutrients.

Take cabbage, for example. It is a source of vitamin C. When it is fermented and turned into sauerkraut, the level of vitamin C is tenfold higher. It's been found that just 2 ounces of home-fermented sauerkraut has more probiotics than a bottle of 100-count probiotic capsules!

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This is why Sally Fallon Morell, the President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, calls lacto-ferments the SUPER raw food! Across the board, fermentation enhances the very life of the food. It pre-digests the food, in a manner of speaking, and increases vitamin levels. Anti-nutrients are neutralized or partially neutralized. Minerals are released. Ferments boost the immune system, protect against disease, and aid digestion. In sum, it is a beautiful, marvelous process that works with nature to preserve not only the food, but also our health!

For all of these reasons, including lacto-fermented foods is principle #5 of the Wise Traditions diet. Listen to Sally expound on the benefits of (and the traditions behind) these foods here, in the episode Principle #5 Lacto-fermented Foods.

Highlights include:

–    how lacto-fermented foods are nearly universal in traditional diets –    the two types of fermentation –    how sauerkraut is made –    the role of salt in the fermentation process –    how fermentation may have come about –    the wisdom of traditional cultures and the scientific reasons behind fermentation –    what specific fermented foods are enjoyed in various parts of the world –    just why Sally considers ferments “super” raw foods –    the story of one woman with IBS and how fermented food helped her –    how to tell the difference between fermented foods and those simply steeped in vinegar –    how fermentation can boost levels of vitamin C, minerals, B vitamins –    how lacto-fermented drinks are also a good source of enzymes and bacteria (and serves as an alternative to soft drinks and alcoholic beverages) –    how these foods inoculate the gut, in essence, with good bacteria needed to resist disease –    how these foods are protective against cancer –    how the fermented foods shore up the “biofilm” that lines the intestinal tract –    how to eat the right balance of fermented food –    how these foods replace enzymes lost during cooking and help with the digestion of fat

You will certainly want to begin including some of these foods in your diet, once you understand how beneficial (and delicious) they are! You may even be inspired to try your own hand at preparing them--becoming an alchemist in your own kitchen! Whatever you do, here's to relishing this SUPER raw food!

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Google play, and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Get to know Hilda and her approach to health by visiting her website chispainc.com.

It's all about kombucha

This is how I feel right now. It's all about kombucha. I am absolutely crazyabout it. It is my go-to drink. I have blogged about it from time to time and have gotten a fair number of friends hooked on it, too. It is not a drug (ha, ha) but rather a fizzy, tasty drink with health benefits (so I guess in some senses it acts like a drug)! Kombucha is a fermented drink, born from a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). Its roots go back about 2000 years, but it is VERY 2016. You can buy it at a store in a glass 16-oz. container (at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and even Safeway), or you can try brewing your own at home! Here’s my attempt. I’m just starting out. Don't judge.

kombucha home
kombucha home

Last fall I had the privilege of meeting Hannah Crum, the "Kombucha Mamma," at the Wise Traditions conference in Anaheim, California. There, I got the chance to pick her brain to learn more about this alluring drink known as the "immortal health elixir!" She told me about its history, benefits, and how to get started making my own!

If you want to learn what all the hype is about, listen to this 30-minute interview, the Kombucha Craze. Or just go out and buy a bottle. Once you try it, you’ll understand why so many are raving about it. Still unsure about trying it? Check out some of its healing properties below!

K- Kicks cancer – Studies have shown that glucaric acid (found in kombucha) has cancer-fighting properties.

O – Oh, the weight you’ll lose! Kombucha speeds your metabolism and improves gut health.

M– Makes your immune system strong. It is rich in anti-oxidents which boost immune systems and help prevent colds, flus, etc.

B – Boosts your energy with enzymes and vitamins; brings balance to your gut's bacteria.

U – Unique nutrients such as acetic acid, enzymes, and polyphenols improve your body's functioning.

C– Cleanses and assists with detoxing the body, through gluconic acid and probiotics.

H – Helps the digestive system (populating your gut with needed probiotics).

A – Arthritis can be warded off and joint pain eased by the glucosamines in the drink.

So join the KOMBUCHA craze! And drink a toast to your health with this unusual but uber-beneficial all-natural fermented drink!

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Hilda Labrada Gore, a long-time DC resident, is an Integrative Nutrition health coach and fitness professional. She is the host and producer of the Wise Traditions podcast. Wise Traditions can be found on YouTube, Apple podcasts, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Overcast, Google Play Music, tunein, and at westonaprice.org. Basically, you can find it wherever you get your podcasts!

Yogurt and I didn't "meet cute" but now we're enjoying our "happily ever after"

You know how couples "meet cute" in the movies? Yogurt and I did not meet cute. The first yogurt I met was very plain and lumpy and sour. Not impressive. Kind of blah. So, yeah, zero chemistry. No chance of ever hooking up. plain-yogurt

When I got older and had kids, they seemed to like yogurt. I indulged them by buying unnaturally pink (or bright blue) yogurt in plastic tubes decorated with happy animated animals. This was "cute," alright, and great for them (or so I thought till I discovered how much sugar was in each tube) but I still couldn't swallow the idea of a real relationship with yogurt of my own.

And I thought I was doing my kids a favor!

I knew deep down that yogurt had some health benefits, but I was fuzzy on the details. And I still hadn't met "Mr. Right."

Fast-forward a few years, and I fell head over heels. Here's what I learned that turned the tide and led to my new-found bliss:

Yogurt is packed with probiotics (live bacteria) that are "good guys" in the micro biome of our bodies. Here's the back story: scientists say that we are crawling with bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that live on and in us and that they play a vital part in keeping our bodies well. These millions of organisms (yes, millions!) defend us from infections, even creating their own antibiotics to fight off attacking organisms. They strengthen our immune systems. They even help regulate our metabolisms, the energy we burn, and the fat we store.

But not all of the organisms are good. Some are, but some are also bad, and some are neutral. What we need to do is shore up the good guys by eating plenty of foods with live, active cultures and enzymes.

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Wanted in a gut near you!

Say "hello" to yogurt---chock-full of the "good guy" bacteria that our bodies need. But, what if, like me,  you've never been a yogurt fan?

Try any of the following world-wide traditionally fermented foods:

kimchi - a spicy traditional Korean side dish, made of vegetables and seasonings kefir - a fermented milk drink, originally from Russia, made from kefir grains sauerkraut - finely chopped fermented cabbage, from Germany curtido - dubbed "Salvadoran sauerkraut," a salsa-like condiment from Latin America kombucha - an ancient fermented Chinese tea miso or nato - traditional Japanese fermented soybeans pickles or pickled beets - cucumbers (or beets) soured by fermentation (Check your brands and look for those that have genuinely been fermented. Some pickles and sauerkraut and such haven't been fermented. They are prepared only using vinegar.) yogurt from a farm - It may be that the supermarket brands are too processed for your taste. I recommend finding alternatives from local farms, often available at farmers markets. I get yogurt smoothies from a farm in Pennsylvania that are sweetened with raw honey or genuine maple syrup. They also add a little cream. Bingo! I went from "blech" to "yum" with yogurt.

Farm yogurt with homemade granola and berries!

If you can't stomach any of the above (no gut pun intended), consider a probiotic supplement. On days when I don't believe I've had enough fermented food, I take one capsule of Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics. (One way you can evaluate your gut health is by how well your internal plumbing is working.)

Do you enjoy a fermented food that didn't make my list? Please comment below! And make sure to tell me about your relationship with yogurt. Did you "meet cute" by any chance?