So, after much procrastination, I have finally put together an awesome new workshop on all things fermented!
For those of you who are not familiar with the terms microbiome, probiotics, prebiotics or fermentation, let me enlighten you!!
The microbiome could just be the most important indicator of our health on every level. It's so important that it is being classed as an independent organ, as important as the heart, liver, and kidneys!
For those of you not familiar with the term, it refers to our gut bacteria, the trillions of beneficial bacteria that live in our colon. We tend to group bacteria together as bad and something to be destroyed, hence the huge focus on antibacterial sprays, hand washes and of course antibiotics. Now while antibiotics are essential and can be lifesaving, they tend to be over prescribed, for simple infections our immune systems can deal with. A side effect of antibiotics is that they tend to kill off both good and bad bacteria so our immune system is compromised.
Our immune system largely exists in our gut and is massively affected by the foods we choose to eat, drugs we take, environmental toxins, chemicals, stress and alcohol. We are all familiar with the term "gut feeling" The majority of our happy hormone serotonin is produced in the gut, along with numerous other hormones.
Our gut bacteria are responsible for breaking down starches to simple sugars, proteins to amino acids, they produce B vitamins, folic acid and vitamin K, break down phytic acid which can bind with iron and zinc and make them unavailable. So the microbiome has a massive effect on the digestive system. Optimising gut bacteria can alleviate many symptoms of IBS, crohns disease, colitis and leaky gut.
There are literally no health issues that fermented foods can't help with,
autoimmune disease, asthma and allergies, skin problems, kidney problems, depression, the list is endless.
Fermented foods and drinks have been around for hundreds of years, every traditional culture has their own version. Fermentation was used to preserve food, long before the days of refrigeration and freezers. The interesting thing is that traditional processes result in a food with higher nutritional value, increased vitamins, beneficial bacteria and a lot of problem compounds, like phytic acid and gluten broken down.
In our so called modern culture we have introduced pasteurisation to kill off any pathogenic bacteria but at the same time destroying all the good bacteria which could benefit our health, along with countless other beneficial enzymes, which help us to digest and utilise the nutrients in the food. So in effect we end up with a food or product of lesser nutritional value than the one we started with. Add countless preservatives, mostly chemicals and you have another problem, these chemicals adversely affect our beneficial gut bacteria too!
So you can see how easily our gut bacteria can be destroyed and we suffer the consequences. Another important fact to consider is that these beneficial bacteria, if you are fortunate enough to have any, need to be fed and they need fibre, lots of it which comes from plants, fruits, veggies and wholefoods. So if your diet is lacking in fibre, which it will be if you eat a standard western diet, heavy on processed foods, meat and dairy, then your gut bacteria will be unbalanced in favour of the bad guys, which thrive on sugar!
So let me rewind and simplify this. We need to eat a diet with adequate amounts of fibre to support good gut bacteria. Stress, sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemicals, alcohol, antibiotics, environmental toxins all adversely affect the balance of bacteria in our gut.
So what can we do about it?
It's all very well to feed the existing strains of bacteria but what is more exciting and impacting is to eat foods containing lots of these beneficial microbes. It doesn't take long to recolonise the gut and the more fermented foods and drinks you consume, the stronger and more diverse your gut bacteria will be.
Just think of it as having your own wee army, fighting off foreign invaders, pre digesting food, reducing inflammation, increasing your energy, strengthening your immune system, boosting metabolism and creating vibrant great health for you!
Probiotic yoghurt type drinks like Actimel and Yakult, widely advertised as promoting gut health are not terribly effective and contain only a few strains of bacteria, which are mostly destroyed in the acid of our stomach and don't make it to the colon where they need to be to do their job. A much better idea is to learn to make your own much more potent and effective fermented foods and drinks at home!
The TV programme, Trust me I'm a Doctor a few weeks ago set up an interesting comparison of Yoghurt Drinks, Home made kefir and a diet high in prebiotics, on gut bacteria. Not surprisingly, the home made kefir group came out on top, followed by the diet group. The yoghurt drinks had the least impact on bacterial diversity. Home made kefir can contain up to 40 different beneficial strains of bacteria compared to yoghurt type drinks which contain 3 or 4. These drinks also contain added sugar which we don't need!
So this brings me back to my new Introduction to Fermentation Workshop, which covers fermented veggies, including sauerkraut and its spicy cousin Kimchi, Kombucha, a deliciously refreshing drink made from sweetened fermented green tea and Switchel, made from already fermented apple cider vinegar, ginger, lemon and maple syrup.
Kefir, both coconut kefir and dairy which can be easily made into a probiotic rich cream cheese. Coconut kefir makes delicious smoothies, ice cream and salad dressings.
Sourdough, the most delicious, nutritious bread on the planet, which lots of folks with gluten intolerance can eat without digestive upset. The gluten is broken down during the long fermentation process. Sourdough has only three ingredients, flour, water and salt. Compare that to commercially produced bread with all sorts of flour improvers, preservatives and chemicals added. It's no wonder people have problems digesting it!!
The point of the workshop is to introduce all the different types of fermented foods and drinks, along with equipment needed, cultures, recipes, with clear instructions and plenty of opportunity to taste all the foods and drinks, so you can make an informed decision about which foods and drinks best suit your tastebuds and lifestyle.
I can't lie and say that fermenting your own foods and drinks is a breeze, but I have been fermenting for years and have learned from experience so now I want to pass on my quite extensive knowledge, in the hope that it will inspire you to introduce these amazing superfoods and drinks into your diet. I have simplified and adapted methods to be as straightforward as possible. For example Switchel can be made overnight, using already fermented apple cider vinegar, into a delicious drink flavoured with lemon, ginger and maple syrup, with benefits similar to kombucha, which can take a few weeks to brew and requires a culture called a Scoby, which needs looking after and feeding, much like a wee pet!
Kefir can be made in less than 24 hours with live kefir grains and organic milk, its just a matter of getting the conditions right and knowing what the finished product is supposed to taste like and what to do if it goes wrong. Sometimes we can be put off before we get started so I hope you can learn from my mistakes!
I will be running regular Fermentation Workshops over the next few months so please contact me if you are interested.
It could just be the best decision you make for your health!
Dates for April are Saturday 8th and Saturday 22nd, from 11am till 3pm.
The cost is £65 and includes lots of delicious food, book recommendations, instructions, recipes, equipment costs and plenty of support and guidance to start your own Fermented Food Journey!
You can contact me here to book a place. Maximum of 6 people per workshop .
I look forward to seeing you...
...your health in your hands....
A healthy lifestyle blog with green living tips, plant-based recipes and natural health magic.