For thousands of years, people have been fermenting everything from milk to cabbage –as a way to have food during spare times, and as medicine.
As it turns out, these tangy foods have a restorative, healing impact on your health, both physical and mental. And there are a lot of these true health foods to choose from.
Traditional fermented foods include…
- lassi (an Indian yogurt drink)
- kimchi (spicy Korean cabbage)
- kombucha (sour tea-like beverage)
- pickled vegetables
- yogurt (with active cultures)
Probiotic power boosts your immune system
The main source of the health benefits brought by adding fermented foods to your diet is their probiotic power: Where probiotic supplements offer billions of good bacteria, fermented foods start in the trillions.
Plus, they come delivered in a very absorbable form, so your body can put them to good use right away, re-balancing the bacteria in your gut to ramp up your immune system.
That’s why it’s crucial to make sure you’re eating live fermented foods, giving those positive bacteria a chance to work.
Destroy MRSA, fight cancer, and so much more
Among other benefits, live fermented foods can…
- improve digestion and increase nutrient absorption
- balance stomach acid production, so you don’t produce too little or too much
- soothe diarrhea and constipation
- increase production of acetylcholine, a crucial neurotransmitter
- kill off pathogens, like MRSA
- decrease allergies
- relieve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome
- ease depression
- fight cancer
- promote weight loss
- reduce inflammation
To reap all the benefits, the food has to be fermented in the right way, with lactic acid, and that can be tough to find commercially – no matter what it says on the jar. Fresh, live fermented foods can be very pricey when you get them at a specialty shop… but very low-cost if you make them yourself. And it couldn’t be easier.
Create your own probiotic-rich superfoods
Lacto-fermented foods rely on a beneficial bacteria familiar to many of us: lactobacillus. This bacteria feeds on sugar to produce lactic acid, giving fermented foods their sour taste. You can ferment practically any fruit or vegetable – and the higher their sugar content, the more quickly they’ll ferment.
Making your own fermented foods is simple: You just need some cut up vegetables (or fruit), salt, water, and a large glass or ceramic vessel to put them in. The crucial key here is to make sure the vegetables stay completely submerged in the brine liquid – the salt water.
A note of caution: If you’ve never eaten live fermented foods before, start slowly, with about one tablespoon of your food of choice along with a meal, and see how your body reacts. If you eat too much too soon, you can experience a “healing crisis” as pathogens are killed off by the beneficial bacteria.
So if you experience any upset, wait a couple of days before you try again – but this time use only a teaspoon of fermented foods, or just the juice, along with a meal. Once it’s going down well, you can gradually increase the amount you’re eating.
You can start with some homemade sauerkraut. It’s very easy – and inexpensive – to make. All it takes is two very simple ingredients and some common kitchen equipment. And before you know it, you’ll be dining on your own homemade superfood.
The following recipe is for one gallon of sauerkraut. It keeps for a very long time – at least two months – in the refrigerator.
|Simple Homemade Sauerkraut|
|Build up your healthy bacteria and build your immunites with this deliciously tart homemade sauerkraut|
• Shred your cabbage
• Put a little bit of the shredded cabbage and a sprinkle of sea salt into the jar, and pound or squeeze it vigorously to extract moisture.
• Repeat step two until all your cabbage is in the jar, mashed down, making sure to leave no more than one inch from the top empty – the cabbage will expand during fermentation, but you don’t want to leave too much room.
• Make sure that the liquid extracted from the cabbage covers it entirely. If it doesn’t, make some brine out of sea salt and water in a proportion of one tablespoon of salt to two cups of water. Then add as much brine as you need to completely cover the cabbage.
• Press the cabbage down so it’s totally submerged in brine liquid, then put a plate on top of it to hold it down. Put a weight, like a rock, on the plate to keep it weight down.
• Put your jar in a spot that stays at room temperature (about 70 degrees), and let it ferment for one week.
• Check on the sauerkraut periodically to make sure the cabbage remains completely covered with brine. If it’s not, add enough brine to cover.
• If any mold forms on the surface – which can happen, don’t worry – simply skim it off the top.
• After about seven days, taste your sauerkraut to see if you’re happy with the way it tastes. If it’s not quite there, taste it again the next day. It can ferment for up to ten days.
• When your sauerkraut is ready, put a cap on your jar, and move it into the refrigerator.
A few helpful hints:
- You can put one of the outer cabbage leaves over the cabbage, under the plate, to help keep it submerged
- Cover the whole jar with some cloth held on by a rubber band to keep buts out but still let air flow in and out
- To make smaller batches, make sure you keep the same ratio of cabbage to salt, and use a smaller jar. A smaller batch will ferment faster, so check the taste after three or four days.
Selhub EM, Logan AC, Bested AC. Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry. Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 2014;33(1):2. doi:10.1186/1880-6805-33-2.
Logan AC, Venket Rao A, Irani D. Chronic fatigue syndrome: lactic acid bacteria may be of therapeutic value. Med Hypotheses. 2003 Jun;60(6):915-23.
Logan AC, Katzman M. Major depressive disorder: probiotics may be an adjuvant therapy. Med Hypotheses. 2005;64(3):533-8.
Sikorska H, Smoragiewicz W. Role of probiotics in the prevention and treatment of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2013 Dec;42(6):475-81. doi: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2013.08.003. Epub 2013 Sep 7.
Michele Cagan is the Editor of the Health Sciences Institute Members Alert, a monthly health newsletter with approximately 200,000 paid subscribers, dedicated to presenting natural and alternative cures. The Members Alert covers a wide range of diseases and conditions including depression, weight loss, insomnia, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, aging, Alzheimer’s disease, adrenal fatigue, and dozens more.
Ms. Cagan tracks down the sources of these natural cures in the Amazon rainforest, along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, in the Siberian tundra, and atop the Himalayas. From medicinal mushrooms to Traditional Chinese herbs to Ayurvedic treasures, Ms. Cagan seeks the most trusted natural cures, backed by centuries of effectiveness and modern science.
Ms. Cagan also authored the alternative health book, Act 50 Think 40 Feel 30 - The Doctor's Secrets to Living Younger Everyday with Allan Spreen, M.D.
In addition, Ms. Cagan created the Health e-Living Letter (an online health column on the benefits of natural remedies), HSI On the Spot (an alternative health blog), and Code Red (an urgent e-letter informing subscribers about newly discovered adverse events), along with special in-depth reports on critical alternative cures. Ms. Cagan is also a featured contributor on HealthierTalk.com.
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