Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, said disease begins in the gut. True, and so does health. There is growing research showing that the state of your gut health impacts everything from your immune system to the glow of your skin. We know that having lots of good bacteria taking up residence in your gut leaves little room for the bad bacteria (i.e. candida) to proliferate. All this healthy gut flora inoculates your intestinal tract keeping you happy, healthy, balanced and beautiful.
One easy way of giving yourself a regular dose of healthy bacteria is by taking a probiotic supplement. There are lots of them on the market, but the best ones have 80+ billion CFU per capsule. I like this brand. They're pretty expensive, though! A much cheaper and more delicious way of getting your daily dose of healthy bugs is to eat fermented foods! There are lots of different ones to choose from: kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, raw apple cider vinegar, kombucha, pickles (the refrigerated kind), and tempeh. All are awesome! And you only need to eat a little bit to get the benefits -- I'm talking a couple tablespoons of kimchi / sauerkraut, or a small glass of kombucha or kefir.
Below are some amazing health benefits that you can experience by adding more fermented foods to your life!
Better Digestion and Elimination
Having more good bugs in your intestinal tract will aid digestion and nutrient absorption so you are able to get more nutrition from the foods you eat. They also play an important role in keeping elimination easy and regular.
Fermented foods balance your blood sugar by helping your body create a more steady release of insulin so you don't store fat.
Inner health = outer beauty. When your gut is happy, your skin will have a natural radiance and glow. Fermented foods can help heal acne, psoriasis, eczema and other chronic skin conditions.
Bolstered Immune System
It is estimated that 80% of your immune system is in your gut. Without lots of friendly micro-organisms in there to be the first line of defense, your gut is left wide open to pathogens and disease-triggering inflammation.
Fermented foods are powerful detoxifiers. The lactic acid bacteria formed during the fermentation process helps your body break down and excrete stored pesticides and heavy metals.
All those health benefits AND they're delicious!
So are you feeling inspired to make your own ferments at home? Awesome! They're a lot easier do than you might think (I was intimidated too!). There are some great books out there dedicated to making all kinds of crazy and cool cultured foods at home. Check out Donna Schwenk's book, Cultured Food for Life: How to Make and Serve Delicious Probiotic Foods for Better Health and Wellness.
Here is a recipe for my favorite fermented food, kimchi, to get you started!
Steph's Spicy Kimchi
Yields 2 quarts
- 1 head green or Napa cabbage, cored and diced (reserve 2 small whole leaves from outside)
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped
- 1 cup carrots, grated
- 1/2 cup daikon radish, grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh turmeric root, minced
- 2 red chilis, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
Place vegetables, ginger, turmeric, garlic and chili flakes in a large bowl and mash down with a wooden pounder to release juices. In a blender, place 1/4 cup mashed vegetable mixture and salt and blend until liquified. Stuff the vegetable mixture into 2 wide mouth quart jars and press down. The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Pour the liquified vegetable mixture into the jars. Add additional water if needed to bring the liquid up to cover the vegetables. Stuff one whole cabbage leaf on top of each jar (this keeps the kimchi from floating up out of the liquid). Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days to one week. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Enjoy a few tablespoons of this spicy, probiotic goodness once or twice a day with your meals!