Creating A Forest With Fermented Foods

Over the past month a focus in our house has been improving the health of our guts.

Everyone now knows that having a healthy gut has benefits other than good digestion! Gut health has been linked to skin issues, immunity, thyroid health, brain disorders – including ADHD (not that I consider this a disorder), weight management… (and the list goes on).

One of the things we’ve done is add more fermented foods to our regular diet.

These foods are filled with “friendly” bacteria such as those promoted in probiotic products, as well as helpful enzymes. The bacteria “predigest” certain components of food, making them easier for your gut to handle and for nutrients to be absorbed when you eat them.

There are many different strains of good bacteria and ideally we want a “forest” of different types of probiotics in our intestinal ecosystem. The exact composition of each person’s gut microbiome is unique plus research has shown that some probiotic strains seem to be more effective than others for treating certain conditions, so it’s good to include a range of different sources of probiotic foods in your regular diet.

Don’t forget prebiotics too – indigestable fibre that feeds the good bacteria.

First up kombucha. I admit it was a fail when I tried brewing my first batch in the middle of winter – it was just too cold! I now know you can get special heating pads (or wraps) that keep them warm. Come spring tho, and I haven’t had any issues; I am now onto about my fifth batch and have even tried coffee kombucha – tho I prefer the traditional black tea version. It’s now an everyday drink for me – although my son hasn’t taken a shine to the “disgusting” scoby.

Next was miso. I found some made with brown rice (I prefer that over white) whilst in Dunedin for my little sister’s 40th. I am still finding ways to incorporate this, but so far have been using it as a salt replacement in certain recipes. Our whole family loves Japanese flavours so it goes down well.

Then this week there was tempeh. My daughter has decided we should have more vegetarian meals as part of a social studies project (reducing our environmental footprint) and she choose a teriyaki poke bowl recipe in which tempeh was an ingredient. It took the third shop to find some! And it was delicious!

Sauerkraut is another that we haven’t yet tried making ourselves. But there is a jar of it the fridge. I quite like the crispness. If you buy yours, make sure it is from the refrigerated section where it is less likely to be pasteurised (which means all the friendly bacteria have been killed).

I am still looking into dairy-free kefir ideas.  Although people who are lactose-intolerant can usually tolerate kefir, because the lactose sugar in it has been partly broken down by the bacteria in them. The same goes with yoghurt (which I know I can’t have too much of). Look for the words “contains live cultures” if buying yoghurt.

So which of these fermented foods are you using to grow your forest?

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