Today's blog post on fermented foods comes to you from Bachelor Qualified, gut health Nutritionist, Sofie van Kempen. Sofie completed her degree at the Queensland University of Technology in 2015. Her love and interest for gut health began 4 years ago when a trip to Thailand resulted in her contracting a parasite, causing ulceration to Sofie's intestines. From then it was a long process of trialling and testing everything on herself to rebuild her gut health and microbiome. Sofie now, fortunately gets to teach and help others to do the same. Click here to find out more about Sofie and the services she offers.
What if I was to tell you that within 2 centimeters of your gut you have more bacteria living than there are people in this World… What if I said that studies have recently discovered we are a ratio of 10:1 bacteria to human cells, proving we are actually made up of 90% bacteria and 10% human. Or what if I told you that scientists are identifying our micro biome is what chooses our life long partner not Tinder (thank God!). Last but not least how about if I enlightened you with the fact that faecal transplants are now taking place inside people who have barely any good bacteria left in their guts, to establish new colonies off others poop… I wonder if you get to choose your poop partner? Imagine not knowing their first name but knowing what bacteria resides in their stool. Talk about a serious relationship. However, I do always say, don’t knock it before you try it.
Talk about taking Gut health to the next level! But what exactly is ‘gut health’ and more specifically fermented foods! Your GUT also known as your digestive tract is what breaks down, digests, absorbs and removes all the products you put in your mouth. I say ‘products’ because the amount of crap found in food these days is very far from being grown in your own backyard however, that is a rant for another time! When your broken down slow cooked lamb shoulder and kale salad reaches your small intestines your gut micro biome (bacteria colonies) residing in your gut not only feed off the food you consume, however it allows the bacteria living within that food to establish more colonies within your gut as well as provide your body with nutrients, vitamins and minerals to seep into your blood stream.
This is why it is very important to eat all the ‘right’ foods and drink lots of water. By right foods I mean all real food grown in the ground full of rich, healthy bacteria which predominantly if not all is certified organic! Why certified organic? Because you are consuming all of the bacteria that resides within your food and comes from within the soil in which your food grows. So if you are consuming food ridden with pesticides not only are you consuming all of those pesticides but when you ferment your food you are supercharging all of those pesticides, bad pathogens and bacteria which once consumed will start to establish in your gut. This results in an influx of bad bacteria and a decrease in good gut bacteria. In addition, when you consume the ‘wrong’ foods (like processed foods and sugar) or alcohol and some medications (like antiobitoics) you feed all of the bad bacteria residing in your gut. This then allows the bad bacteria to thrive, establishing larger colonies that overpower the good bacteria. Futhermore, research has proven it can take a minimum of 3 to 12 months to reestablish your gut bacteria once you have been on just one course of antibiotics.
So what do you do to increase your good gut bacteria? You incorporate fermented foods and probiotics! Probiotics are live bacteria strains which come in a powder or capsule form that you can consume in order to release large quantities of good bacteria to assist in helping the everyday processes of your gut.
The other way to produce your own potent probiotics is to ferment certified organic vegetables as during the fermenting process they breed and establish healthy gut bacteria. One of my favourite probiotic rich fermented foods I incorporate into every meal is sauerkraut. I am going to explain below how you can make your own sauerkraut at home without costing you an arm and a leg. Just a cabbage really and your imagination.
Sauerkraut is a German word meaning picking cabbage and fermenting it. Simple huh! If you're not sure how to incorporate sauerkraut into your diet, you can start by adding it to a Nourish Bowl.
- 1 green cabbage
- 3 carrots
- 2 apples
- 1 knob ginger
- Finely chop the carrot and apple, place in a bowl and set aside.
- Grate the ginger and add to the carrot and apple.
- Remove the limp outer leaves from the cabbage. Wash these leaves and set aside for later on in the process.
- Quarter the cabbage and remove the core. Thinly slice the cabbage crosswise to shred. Add to the bowl of apple, carrot and ginger.
- The amount of sea salt needed is 2% of the combined weight of all ingredients. So for example, if the combined weight of ingredients is 800 grams then 16 grams of salt is needed. Salt is the workhorse for the ferment, it pulls water from the vegetables and creates a salty brine environment for good bacteria to breed and grow. It also inhibits the growth of bad bacteria.
- Massage all of the ingredients until you have created a descent amount of brine at the bottom of the bowl and until the vegetables feel soft (especially the cabbage).
- Put all of the ingredients into a crock (if you have one) or a glass jar and compound the vegetables with your fist or a rolling pin as you go. Once all of the vegetables are in the jar, pour the brine over them, making sure it covers all of the vegetables. This is where I find a crock and the clay weights come in handy as the weights keep the vegetables below the brine at all times during the fermentation process. You can also place the leftover cabbage leaf on top of the vegetables and use the cabbage core to compress the veg down and then clip the lid on.
- Once the vegetables and brine have been added to the jars or crock, seal them up and leave to ferment, depending on the climate of where you live will depend on how long to ferment for but a rough guide is around 30 days.
- Once fermented to your desired taste, keep in the fridge in glass jars while consuming. It will store in the fridge for up to 12 months.