If you have ever had trouble stopping eating, eating when you’re not hungry, or dealing with cravings that have taken over your mind then please watch the newest Guts & Glory Blogcast with Susan Peirce Thompson, a good friend and psychology professor who has figured out some pretty cool solutions!
She’s giving a free webinar in which she’s going to explain how people’s brains are blocking them from losing weight…and what they can do about it. Once you register for the webinar you will get access to the quiz!
While many fermented foods have incredible benefits, from increasing digestion, nutrient assimilation, and gut rebuilding, not all fermented foods improve your health.
Some are pure deliciousness, but can have harmful side effects.
Now, of course I’m a fan of ferments. Incorporating certain kinds of fermented foods is a big part of what I recommend as one small, yet important step for people looking to rebuild their gut.
That said, I want to make sure people are aware that just because something’s fermented, doesn’t mean it has beneficial probiotics.
Look, I’m definitely a fan of shamelessly enjoying chocolates and cheese. So please know that what I’m sharing is in no way meant to cause guilt. It’s just to point out that not all ferments provide probiotic advantages and that all ferments—yes, even the super healthy ones—should be consumed in the appropriate amounts.
Here is a rundown of some common ferments that don’t have probiotics and their pros and cons.
Alcohol is an obvious example of a ferment that isn’t exactly “good” for you. But before you beer fanatics throw up a middle finger, know that even some alcoholic beverages can have health advantages! We all know that too much alcohol can severely harm the liver, not to mention cause intense remorse and embarrassment if you get drunk….
Many people converted to drinking red wine when they heard about the many health benefits.
The American Gut Project has claimed that:
“Alcohol consumption also affects microbiome diversity. Those who had at least one drink per week had a more diverse microbiome than those who abstained”.
The science behind how alcohol is fermented
Fermentation is the conversion of sugars to ethanol and carbon dioxide, with the implementation of bacteria—in the case of alcohol, yeast. Yeasts are single cell fungi that are necessary in producing ethanol. In a normal fermentation cycle, yeasts use oxygen at the beginning and then continue to thrive once the oxygen no longer remains. It’s during this anaerobic (without oxygen) period that ethanol is produced.
As with most yeast ferments, if Candida is an issue, I don’t recommend it. The byproducts in a yeast ferment support the growth of yeast – feeding the bioterrain for yeasts to grow – not ideal. Alcohol is essential straight ‘sugar’ that feeds yeasts in the body. In fact, when I was studying herbal medicine in school, my mentor told me that most alcoholics are actually consumed by a yeast overgrowth and can make major strides in their alcohol consumption by addressing the Candida first.
So there you have it. Perhaps the foods and drinks that are generally considered “bad” can in some ways be “good.” This is why I hesitate to call foods “good” or “bad” and instead look at food on a person by person basis.
Another example of a questionable-probiotic ferment is cheese. (And of course, cheese goes well with that glass of red wine.) But as we know, dairy consumption can also cause issues. High in fat and difficult-to-digest proteins, too much cheese (or other dairy products) can result in chronic inflammation, digestive issues, and a wide array of other undesirable side effects including weight gain.
I call cheese a ‘questionable-probiotic ferment’ because there at least a thousand different kinds of cheese and depending on whether it is pasteurized, raw, or aged will determine how many kinds of probiotics are in it (or not).
However, even without probiotics, the protein in cheese (if you can digest it) naturally helps to curb hunger. These proteins help break down absorption of carbohydrates, therefore helping balance blood-sugar levels and boost your mood!
Other nutrients in cheese includ zinc and biotin, both helping aid tissue repair, protecting skin, and strengthening nails and hair.
The science behind how cheese is fermented
To ferment cheese, a starter culture is usually used. Milk must be kept at around 90 degrees for 30 minutes in order to ripen. At this time, the bacteria grows and fermentation begins, lowering pH levels and developing the mature cheese flavor. You certainly don’t want to (ok, I do) eat an entire block of cheese, but these dairy products do indeed possess miscellaneous nutrients, mainly proteins and calcium.
For you coffee addicts, guess what? Coffee is usually fermented. A common method of processing raw coffee involves washing and separating the skin from beans before fermenting the beans in cement tanks. Fermentation is what causes this outer layer to break down and disappear, essentially de-pulping the seed and leaving behind the coffee bean. After fermentation takes place, the beans are then rinsed with water and the remaining mucilage is then dried.
We are sometimes in denial of the health concerns related to coffee, but in the back of our minds, I think even regular drinkers are aware that coffee isn’t always the most health-promoting beverage.
That said, while coffee can lead to cardiovascular issues and a myriad of anxiety-related problems, this non-probiotic ferment does have its benefits. Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants; it can protect against diabetes; it aids the liver and combats alcoholic cirrhosis, as well as prevents gallstones and kidney stones; it can prevent and revive any retinal damage; and coffee can potentially lessen your chances of certain cancers and Alzheimer’s. It also helps mental focus and productivity, which is the main reason most people drink it.
Other non-probiotic ferments
Various teas, chocolates, and vinegar. While all of these non-probiotic ferments have pros and cons, so do the “good”, probiotic rich foods.
Even healthy ferments can have negative side effects if consumed too often in too great of quantity. For example, kombucha—though it possesses a myriad of benefits and is high in vitamins and enzymes that help detoxify the body—can also contribute to Candida issues, dysbiosis, heartburn, and inflammation if drank too much too frequently. To read more on the pros and cons of kombucha, read this article.
The important thing to remember for these non-probiotic containing ferments is that they can still bolster the bioterrain, making the gut a happy place for probiotics to live, but they aren’t adding bacteria into the digestive system.
The main thing to keep in mind, even with fermented foods that do have probiotics, is that they work best when implemented into your diet, not when they become your diet. Having even one small servings of fermented food as a side item helps immensely. That’s when they work their magic best to help you digest your meals more fully! Whether it be a non-probiotic ferment, such as wine, or a probiotic-rich food like yogurt or sauerkraut, listen to your body first. Make sure you’re eating what your body is asking for and not overriding your physical needs with your mental knowledge of the health benefits of the foods. I teach more about how to listen to your gut in Gut Rebuilding where you clean it up and rebuild it from scratch.
To check out my favorite 11 probiotic-rich ferments, read here.
Maybe you’ve wanted to ferment, but think,
“This seems risky. There are so many things that could go wrong. Why should I make fermented food, rather than just buying it at the store?”
Kimchi, sauerkraut, miso…These are just a few of the easy-to-make, tasty fermented foods that contain probiotics. But one of the biggest debates is which system is the best?
When setting up your fermentation station, BEFORE FERMENTING organizing a clean fermenting environment is absolutely vital. In order to ensure safe, healthy practice, your fermentation station has to be top priority!
Read on to learn how easy it is to start fermenting safely at home.
WHAT THE CROCK?
Crocks are used to help prevent mold and lactic acid producing bacteria. That said, it doesn’t have to be a crock—it could also be a glass container like a mason jar. Whatever you end up using, make sure it has straight sides with limited possibility for oxygen.
When it comes to fermenting, oxygen is the well-known enemy. In an aerobic (oxygen) environment, yeasts can oxidize to form acetic acids—the same thing as vinegar. Sure, vinegar is a fermented product, but that’s not what we’re trying to make here. Also, if oxygen is present, candida-preventing yeasts—such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and all the gut-friendly probiotic bacteria—cannot prosper. If the oxygen is eliminated, these beneficial bacteria and yeasts can help clear your gut of harmful bacteria.
Don’t worry; owning a super fancy, expensive jar is not required. However, if you do use a mason jar or alternative option, setting up the jar properly according to your ferment is very important.
100% airtight jars can be harmful, as CO2 forms during the gaseous stage of fermentation. This can cause your vessel to explode! CO2 gasses must have a way to escape. If you feel comfortable setting up mason jars and making alterations, go for it! Otherwise, consider buying a high-end crock or jar with airlock sealing that can release the bi-product of fermentation.
The best jars have rubber gaskets, and my personal favorites have airlocks. This prevents mold spores from inoculating the ferment. I recommend spending more money on jars that will save you time and energy, while also ensuring quality of your ferments! If you’re an avid fermenter, it’s worth it.
OTHER KEY ITEMS YOU’LL NEED
Beyond the very necessary crock or storage item, there are several other tools necessary to create a safe, healthy, sanitary and proficient fermenting space.
- Knives: You’ll want a large, quality knife able to cut through thick foods such as cabbage. If you have a dull knife, sharpen it! If you don’t own a sturdy knife, invest in one. It could last you a lifetime and is totally worth the purchase! You also will want to have a small, quality paring knife for cutting smaller items.
- Cutting board: Plastic or wood is fine. If your wooden cutting board has black spots of mold on it, please throw it out and get a new one. We don’t want mold spores ending up in your ferment.
- Weights: Using anything from pickling pebbles to glazed ceramic weights helps keep your ferments compact inside your jar. I personally don’t recommend using rocks as weights because I’ve just had it fail too many times.
- Rolling Pin: You can use a rolling pin as a tamper for pushing your fermented goods into your crock. Or you can buy a dedicated tamper, made specifically for this purpose.
- A rubber band and cloth can be used to keep bugs away
- WHERE TO STORE SUPPLIES
When it comes to storage location, you want to make sure your ferments are in an area where they can evolve efficiently. You’ll want to keep you ferments in an area away from light, free from temperature fluctuation, and UV rays that can alter your food.
“How do I know if oxygen is in my crock? What are some signs of bad set-up?”
If it looks off, it probably is. Signs of a ferment gone wrong include:
- Brown cabbage
- Yeasty odor
VIDEO ON THE BEST CROCKS
I get asked a ton of questions about what kinds of crocks to use and how to avoid mold, so I made a video.
This mini tutorial explains my personal fermenting methods, shows off some of the most popular varieties of crocks, and lets you in on one of my favorite choices for making the best homemade probiotics with fermented veggies. Check it out!
Watch this mini lesson to learn more about the following:
- Something you have in your recycling bin that you can use right now
- Airlock vs. traditional style crocks and jars
- Size—does it matter?
- Where to score giant crocks, and the dangerous kind to avoid
- Which weights to use
- And my personal favorite system!
The process of fermenting may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s actually quite simple once you’ve gotten the swing of things. Also, it’s worth noting that homemade ferments generally have more than eight times the amount of probiotics as an entire bottle of store bought supplements!
The real question is why would you NOT make your own!
Comment below and let me know
What ferment have you been wanting to make at home?
Pros and Cons of this Magical Drink
Kombucha—fermented tea created from Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeasts (SCOBY)—is commonly hyped up as being a magic elixir. Regular consumers claim this tea potion aids weight loss and digestion, serves as an anti-aging regimen, helps prevent cancer, improves liver function and supports overall immunity.
However, like with many things, pros come with cons.
Although this incredible tonic is now popularly marketed on a large scale for its countless health benefits, kombucha can also have negative side effects if consumed too frequently.
Why kombucha is so great:
Bacteria and yeasts in kombucha work to eradicate most sugars from the tea, transforming the liquid into a fizzy, semi-tart, delicious drink.
Kombucha is high in Vitamin B—protecting the pancreas and liver.
It’s also rich in enzymes that help detoxify the body, high in glucosamine that helps joints and prevent arthritis, and packed with probiotics—helping to aid digestion and ensure gut health.
Hannah Krum of Kombucha Kamp shares in her new book, The Big Book of Kombucha:
“Kombucha is often referred to as a gateway food, because this one health-promoting choice can lead to a whole host of others, bringing balance to body, diet and lifestyle. With regular consumption, kombucha can be part of deep, positive changes in all aspects of life….We are living in a bacterial world, and I am a bacterial girl!”
So what’s the problem?
The main issues are frequency and quantity that people consume kombucha. A lot of health experts will advise drinking kombucha every day, but I strongly disagree.
While I love kombucha and appreciate its benefits, I believe everything should be done in moderation!
If you are taking medications, are an alcoholic, diabetic, alcohol sensitive, caffeine sensitive, sugar sensitive, or have Candida…kombucha may not be the drink for you. Symptoms of SIBO can be revealed or exacerbated through drinking kombucha. In some cases it can trigger acid reflux or heartburn and possibly irritate ulcers.
How to get all of the benefits with none of the buzzkills:
While kombucha is not a magical drink with wizardry powers, if drank in moderation this yummy concoction can provide health benefits like increasing your bacterial diversity, which helps prevent chronic disease.
(One of my Fermentationists, Gayle, calls kombucha the “designated driver’s drink” while out at the bar.)
The key to reaping the benefits of kombucha without the negative repercussions is to be aware of how often you’re drinking it and how it’s making you feel.
In general, I recommend drinking kombucha no more than two times a week.
Here are some of my clients’ personal experiences with kombucha:
Kevin Gianni of Annmarie Skin Care, “the only dark side of kombucha is when you run out…. lol… we have it on tap at the office here”
Elissa, “I used to drink lots of kombucha and loved the different flavors at the store. I also liked the idea that it was healthy, until I got a “baby” from a neighbor (that was super fun, like sharing sourdough starter) and realized how much sugar and caffeine it got fed! Yikes!”
Morray, “I have done kombucha on/off for a couple of years. I could definitely tell when it was not agreeing with my system (bloating and digestion just off), removed it for a time and have been drinking it again for a few months with no issues. I think the amount is key and I do better WITHOUT the second ferment. I have never really liked carbonation…”
Catherine, “I started making kombucha five years ago and loved it, drank it almost daily in amounts of 4 to 12 oz with no ill effects, I rarely used a second ferment. Then over time I developed SIBO and noticed increasingly that I didn’t feel as well after drinking it. This actually helped clue me in that I had SIBO. I was drinking it less and less so I stopped producing it at home. After a year or so without it I took a sip from my husband’s Celestial Seasoning kombucha as we were shopping in Sprouts Market one day and holy cow, one sip was enough to blow my gut up to basketball proportions. I think that brand has inulin added to it. I didn’t touch kombucha again until I got an all clear signal from my retest for SIBO. Now I respect the power of the ferment more and I limit my kombucha use to keeping a bottle of GT in the fridge on occasion and sipping from it as I’m passing through the kitchen. I do the same thing with Kevita Lemon Ginger Tonic. My sister also finds she feels best taking kombucha an ounce or so at a time. Hope this helps.”
Myra “The first time I ever tried it was in this program [FCP]. I thought it tasted like “hard” iced tea. I like that sort of thing!” 😉
Shawn, “Like Myra, the first time I tasted it was in this program. I only had one drink of it since I do not tolerate caffeine or sugar well. My daughter loves it however, so I am continuing to make it for her. She says it is so much better than any of the many different kombuchas she has purchased from stores, and that she never wants to buy any again! This summer she wants me to teach her how to make it so she can make it herself and experiment with different flavors.”
Marlies, “I drank a lot of it for about 2 years, about a year ago. I did not realize then that drinking it in large amounts ( as to was sold in large bottles) was not a good idea. My teeth started to ache and I suspected it was causing my candida problem to flair up. Now I have it on occasion.
Jennifer Delaney I can drink it on occasion, but if I start drinking too often I start getting headaches. I am prone to food related migraines and know certain things must be done in moderation for me.”
Jane, “We as a family like Kombucha . We go through a lot of it. I have a hard time keeping up to the making of it. I do not find the alcohol in it affects us in any way. I don’t know what the alcohol content is but I’m sure it has a low alcohol content. We have been drinking it for about two years now. I really like Kombucha and gingerale mixed together. My favourite way of drinking it. I was diagnosed borderline diabetic but was able to reverse that diagnosis. I think that the Kombucha may have a part in that. Im not sure. I know lifestyle changes affect that also. Eliminating processed foods, sugar etc. My daughter had a histamine reaction to it. She does drink it but less of it now.”
Laura, “My son, by drinking kombucha regularly, has gone from borderline constipated to 3 poops a day! He spends so much less time in the bathroom, it’s awesome.”
I’m a firm believer in fermentation—proper and appropriate fermentation, that is.
When made right, raw, unpasteurized ferments can restore balance in your gut, right belly issues, give your immune system a fighting chance, bring you to your ideal weight, and more.
Plus, these live foods beat probiotic supplements hands down for their probiotic numbers.
While purchasing quality ferments in the store is convenient, making ferments at home is much less expensive, plus you can control the flavors and ingredients (many store-bought ferments have sugar), and it’s a fantastic way to put you in control of your health.
The main concern when making fermented foods is the rare, but possible, threat of contamination with botulism-causing bacteria. Further risks include the development of mold and other unwanted bacteria.
Although the benefits of fermented foods far outweigh the risks, it is still necessary to be educated on what can happen if precaution is not taken. If done incorrectly, fermenting can lead to serious health problems. And let’s be honest, if you think you’re giving your mama a nutritionally packed, healthy jar of sauerkraut that is actually poisoned, you’ve got yourself a living nightmare.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR FERMENTS SAFE
First and foremost, sanitation and cleanliness are vital in preparing fermented foods, to ensure food safety and quality. Like with any food preparation, washing your hands, rinsing the produce, and cleaning your utensils is important prior to working with foods.
Additionally, to reduce the threat of contamination, you should routinely disinfect equipment and prevent crowding or overstocking your fermented products. Setting up a clean and efficient workspace lessens the possibility of contamination and toxicity. This means hot soapy water.
Don’t worry about over-sanitation in this circumstance. This is one instance where you do want to keep things as sterile as possible.
Sidenote: There are different precautions for each type of ferment, so make sure you learn about what the specific ferment you’re making needs. In this article we are discussing vegetable and lacto-fermentation, but we cover every types of ferment in the Fermentationist Certification Program.
OXYGEN IS THE ENEMY
It’s important to weigh down your products under the brine to keep the bacteria in an anaerobic environment. Keeping your vegetables submerged decreases the possibility of air getting in and altering your ferment. As you may already know, oxygen is the enemy when it comes to lacto-fermenting foods. Therefore, one of the most important steps in fermenting is to ensure an oxygen-free environment in the crock. Jars with airlocks are recommended to keep mold out and keep the smell down.
Similarly, if you have too low of a water or brine level, the veggies on top will oxidize and bacteria can accumulate beneath the surface. This also stimulates mold growth.
On the other hand, by packing your jar too full, there’s not enough space for the fermentation process to occur without causing overflow. A rule of thumb is to pack your jars 3/4 full, so that your foods have enough room to expand and develop. Less than 75 percent can let in too much oxygen, but much more than 75 percent will prohibit proper fermentation. Too full can also fill the airlock with brine.
CREATE AN OPTIMUM ENVIRONMENT FOR FERMENTS
Salt it! Keeping salt in your ferments deters bugs. The salt ratio should be three tablespoons to each quart of water. (Don’t use iodized salts though, as they can impede fermentation.)
Temperature is another critical factor. The good bacteria that provide health benefits and protect your gut will die if your ferment gets too hot, and fermentation cannot occur in a setting too cold. Controlling temperatures helps get your body those advantageous bacteria your body craves, allowing an appropriately timed and natural process. Keep your ferments away from UV rays, as well as from spaces where temperature fluctuation is likely to occur. Leuconostoc mesenteroides bacteria do best in temperatures of 65 to 72 degrees during the first stage of fermentation, so keeping the temperature set in that range is ideal for appropriate results within three to four weeks.
By keeping your foods high in acidic levels, your ferments are less likely to spoil. Low acid levels are more welcoming to foreign bacteria that cause decay. Use pH strips to test the acid levels and make sure you’re on the right track! For example, sauerkraut should have a pH of 4.6 or lower.
UM, SHOULD THAT MOLD BE THERE?
If you see mold, it’s probably best to throw it out and start again. This may seem wasteful, but mold is a sign that you’ve done something incorrectly the first time, and it’s no secret that there are severe risks in consuming molds. Some think that you can simply scrape the mold away, but unfortunately, the spores remain. You see, mold has roots, deeper than the obvious stuff you scrape away or cut off. Long before mold visually appears, spoilage has already begun. If cabbage turns pink, you probably have a yeast or mold issue that is caused from oxygenation. It could also mean you did not distribute the accurate amount of salt. If a creamy, smelly layer shows up on the top of your ferments, throw them out.
I don’t say any of this to scare you away from fermenting foods on your own, because homemade ferments have more probiotic power than anything you can buy in the store. (Plus it’s fun!) Just make sure you do research and give the right amount of care and caution to your fermented goods.
Taking the steps listed in this article will help you form nutritionally-dense, healthy foods that will please, not poison!
Want more step by step instruction? Join the Fermentationist Certification Program!
Why You Need to Eat Miso Daily
You’ve drank it with sushi.
Maybe you’ve even made the most outrageously tasty salad dressing with it.
And if you’re really wild, you’ve even made this culinary delight yourself.
I’m talkin’ bout miso magic. In all it’s lip-smackin’, nutrient-dense glory.
What is miso?
Miso is a traditional Japanese ferment made from soybeans and barley or rice malt, commonly consumed in stir fry or miso soup—is one of few ferments that is purely fungus. Its main benefits include the creation of novel enzymes and the ability to release essential nutrients. Additionally, it appears to possess prebiotic effects.
Miso is made with a yeast, Aspergillus oryzae, rice, and beans. After these things are combined, the ingredients convert starches to sugar and converts proteins into amino acids.
Miso, which translates to “fermented beans” in Japanese, has proven its nutritional worth for thousands of years in Asian culture, and has recently started to gain heightened recognition in the United States and beyond.
This particular fermented food has a long history, dating back thousands of years ago in Asia. Originally started in China, this ferment found its way to Japan as early as the 10th century B.C, at which time it gained immense popularity and became a standard piece of Asian cuisine.
At one point in miso’s complex history, people were able to develop a process that kept spores from Aspergillus molds pure and easily transferable. In implementing this process, word spread about the tasty and nutrient-packed wonder. Today, miso is a worldwide phenomenon!
Miso’s Nutritional Wonders
While soybeans have nutritional value on their own, many nutritional experts believe that when fermented into miso, the product is even healthier than stand-alone soy. Miso helps with the creation of enzymes, which boosts the supply of essential nutrients.
Despite its high-sodium reputation, miso does not negatively impact our cardiovascular system in the way that many other salty foods oftentimes do. In fact, quite the opposite is true! Recent studies show that Japanese adults who consume miso daily are actually at lower risk for cardiovascular-related issues.
Miso also helps the gastrointestinal system in numerous ways. Studies from the early 90s show that people who eat miso soup daily are less prone to stomach diseases, such as gastritis or varied ulcers. Genistein, an isoflavone found in miso, was found to be a strong inhibitor in ridding the body of Helicobacter pylori—a main cause of these intestinal diseases.
Miso is not only beneficial to the cardiovascular system and in preventing cancer, but it also aids the digestive system and is high in vitamin K, which boosts overall bone health. The Aspergillus and other microorganisms in miso help metabolize proteins, carbs and fats—converting them into easily digestible molecules. The Bacillus bacteria found in miso helps to produce high levels of vitamin K, which are incredibly helpful in building strong bones and maintaining mineral density within the skeletal system.
Other benefits of miso are found in its numerous antioxidants. In addition to conventional and well-known antioxidants such as zinc or manganese, miso also contains phytonutrients such as ferulic, coumaric, and kojic acids. With proteins, dietary fibers, and copper, the body gains a myriad of nutrients with each sip.
Miso’s Anti-Cancer Research
Miso is thought to possess anti-cancer benefits. While anti-cancer claims are generally controversial (as with any food), studies have proved that the isoflavone genistein found in soy miso is associated with a decrease risk of cancer.
In 1980, the Japanese National Cancer Center did an epidemiological study that claimed those who ate miso soup daily were not only less likely to suffer from cancer, but also stomach issues and heart disease. Since then, countless studies have revealed similar research, linking anti-cancer benefits directly to intake of miso soup. While it remains controversial, there’s definitely no harm in soy miso; and its countless other benefits make it undoubtedly worthy of consumption.
Interestingly, the number of these benefits only increase through the fermentation process! Studies show that the amount of antioxidants in miso increases the longer time period miso is fermented, and that probiotics are only found in miso that has fermented for a minimum of six months! So, if you leave your miso out for six months or more, you’re likely to get a brown or red-tinted miso that is has elevated quality over premature white miso.
Facts About Miso:
- The miso saltiness mellows out over time. And by using more koji and less salt, your miso will be sweeter!
- Miso ferments are best when kept in a place where temperatures don’t fluctuate. Try keeping your miso in a root cellar or house with stable temperature.
- Miso can be stored for long periods of time, delivering nutrients and novel compounds from soy.
- There are many varieties of miso magic. The main forms include red, barley, and soybean.
Miso is packed with nutrients that aid digestion and is an inexpensive source of protein, probiotics, and minerals!
If you are looking for more information about healing IBS, allergies, autoimmune issues, and more with fermented foods, consider my Gut Rebuilding Program. On the website you’ll find free resources and videos (after you enter your name and email).
How Lactic Acid In Fermented Foods Keeps The Body Happy
I don’t go a single day without eating lacto-fermented vegetables. They keep my immune system boosted (I get a cold less than once a year), give energy to think more clearly so I can kick butt in my business, keep my skin lovely, and keep my weight where it should be by reducing my appetite, sugar, and carb cravings.
The fermented foods I eat actually SAVE me time because I have more energy and focus all day long.
These foods are also the best resource I know of to heal the body after toxins, stress, and processed foods have wiped out the balance of beneficial bacteria inside our digestive tract.
Which, unfortunately, is almost everyone! So that’s why I’m sharing this quick overview of lacto-fermentation.
What is the best way to get probiotics?
The probiotics found in raw, fermented foods stock the body with healthy flora that serves as a protective lining in the gut and shields us against harmful pathogens — basically making it a real challenge for harmful bacteria to reproduce and cause illness. Our bodies’ immune systems necessitate “good bacteria”, or probiotics, which provide beneficial germs while crowding out the bad. It’s a pretty genius cycle that’s kept human health in check for millennia. In fact we can’t live (for very long) without this bacteria!
Store-bought probiotics vary greatly in quality — and often lose their potency as soon as they are packaged. Many tests have shown that probiotic supplements lose their strength by half by the time they reach your house. Unpasteurized fermented foods contain as much as 8x the number of probiotics as one bottle of probiotic supplements. Yup, even that bottle that costs $40 or $50 is nowhere near as potent!
So what is fermentation, scientifically speaking?
Though just a small part of the complex system of our nutritional needs, fermentation plays an essential role in keeping our bodies healthy and happy.
As you may remember from science class, fermentation is a process of producing energy in the absence of oxygen. During fermentation a chemical reaction in bacteria, yeasts and miscellaneous microorganisms break down and eradicate all sugars from a substance.
Bacteria in sauerkraut, for example, ferment when they eat up the sugars in an anaerobic environment. This is how the bacteria produce energy. The byproducts of this process are carbon dioxide (bacterial farts) and lactic acid (bacteria pee!) Ok, I know, I just made that really gross, but you’ll never forget it!
Here’s the coolest part.
Humans can ferment, too! And I don’t mean when you lift up your armpit after a long sweaty workout. Your muscle cells have the same contraptions that the bacteria have. When no oxygen is present, your muscle cells make energy using the process of fermentation. Guess what the byproducts are? Carbon dioxide and lactic acid! You know that sore feeling in your muscles after a workout? Yep, that’s lactic acid running amok.
6 Things You Didn’t Know About Lactic Acid
- Lactic acid is a natural antibiotic that kills off bad bacteria and helps end dysbiosis — an imbalance of probiotics.
- When you eat lactic acid, it does not make you sore.
- Lactic acid does not contain dairy. It is named after Lactic Acid Bacteria, which happen to thrive off of lactose (a sugar found in milk) and the carbohydrates in vegetables. http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/largegut/ferment.html
- Lactic acid is what makes raw unpasteurized sauerkraut sour, not vinegar. The sour flavor from vinegar is a different kind of acid — acetic acid. In fact, probiotic-rich kraut contains no vinegar whatsoever.
- The sour flavor in yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, and sourdough bread is also from lactic acid.
- Lactic acid is the byproduct of fermentation. Many bacteria can do this when there is no oxygen present.
Where have fermented foods been all my life?
In ancient times, people were constantly exposed to beneficial bacteria because they didn’t live in a sterile environment. They actually consumed plenty of naturally occurring probiotics by eating fresh foods produced from good, nutrient dense soil.
While most everyone is familiar with the fermentation process used to create alcohol, fermentation is still a foreign craft to many Westerners. Fermenting foods for their health benefits has gone on for thousands of years, and plays an essential role in holistic healing and nutritional practice around the world. However, widespread pasteurization and the shift toward eating processed foods has created a giant void in our diet, health, and culture as a whole.
Danger In Your Grocery Store
In today’s world, the majority of food is processed, which not only means it has little-to-no nutritional value, but it’s actually dangerous. Much of the readily available produce we buy today has quite a large amount of pesticides.
Unless it is organic, meats contain antibiotics, giving you a daily low-dose, which kills off the good bacteria your body needs. By adding probiotic rich foods into your diet, you’ll see improved digestion, increased energy, and an all-around stronger immune system.
Have you heard about my webinar multi-series called “Say Hello to My Little Friends”? If you enjoyed this article, you need to check it out. It’s happening right now! Get the most in-depth, up to date information that will make you snappier and stronger.
The real epidemic is growing in the intestines.
If you are looking for more information about healing IBS, allergies, autoimmune issues, and more with fermented foods, consider my Gut Rebuilding Program. On the website you’ll find free resources and videos (after you enter your name and email).
11 Most Potent Fermented Foods In Your Healer’s Toolkit
Wondering which fermented foods to use for Candida, weight loss, allergies, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions?
Whether you’re looking to increase your energy or heal a specific condition such as high blood pressure or IBS, certain fermented foods can get you results quickly and naturally.
You’ll want to use certain fermented foods depending on the desired result you want. And not all fermented foods are used medicinally, such as beer or chocolate.
(Even though you could make an argument for chocolate being medically necessary…It definitely is for me sometimes!)
Below is an overview of functional fermented foods— foods that are used for their nutritional and healing properties.
First mentioned in a Chinese poem nearly 3,000 years ago, kimchi is one of the world’s first lacto-fermented foods. This traditional Korean dish—made of cabbage and spices—improves the cardiovascular and digestive systems. Its antioxidants help lessen the risk of serious health conditions, such as cancer and diabetes.
Of all fermented products, yogurt is the most popular and most commonly consumed. Yogurt directly impacts diet quality, metabolism, and blood pressure. There is a new study that shows a major correlation between reduction in diabetes and intake of sugar-free yogurt. NOTE: When buying yogurt, check that the milk source is either grass-fed goat or sheep, and that it’s certified organic. Or, of course, you can make your own!
This fermented milk product is high in calcium, magnesium, and vitamins, with a similar taste and texture to that of drinkable yogurt. This sour-flavored fluid is made from milk and kefir grains, boosting immunity, alleviating bowel-related issues, improving digestion, and building bone density. It’s even been linked to killing Candida—a yeast-like parasitic fungus. Although it’s less popular than yogurt, it is actually higher in probiotics. (Coconut Kefir is a great dairy-free option that utilizes fermented juice of young coconuts to replace milk.)
Kombucha is a fermented beverage, composed of black tea and sugar that originated in China about 2,000 years ago. (The sugar can come from various sources, i.e. cane or pasteurized honey.) When the SCOBY is added, the fermentation process begins. Once fermented, the sugary tea transforms into a carbonated, fizzy drink, high in enzymes, probiotics, advantageous acids, small amounts of alcohol, and vinegar. Studies show that kombucha improves digestion, increases energy, supports immunity, aids weight loss, and serves as a full-body detox. To read more about the pros and cons of Kombucha, click here.
There’s two different kinds of pickles. When you preserve cucumbers in vinegar, you get pickles. But when you soak cucumbers in a salt-water brine, you get probiotic pickles!!! One pickle can contain up to 20 percent of your daily Vitamin K value—a vitamin essential to bone and heart health. NOTE: Because pickles are commonly processed and come in many forms (i.e. relish, dill pickle, sweet pickle, etc.), it’s important to look for organic or locally produced pickles to ensure quality. You also want to make sure that they say ‘cultured,’ ‘unpasteurized,’ or ‘lactofermented.’ Pickles are one of the most common ferments, and super easy to make yourself!
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage made with salt and often herbs, which enhance the flavor and nutritional content. High in fibers, vitamins, iron, copper, calcium, and magnesium, consuming sauerkraut strengthens bones, supports your natural, healthy inflammation response, reduces cholesterol, regulates digestion, fills the gut with much-needed Lactobacillus plantarum (a great probiotic), and assists circulation. It’s also dairy-free and can be made ‘wild’ which means no starter culture is required! Learn how to make your own probiotic factory on your kitchen counter!
Idli is a steamed, naturally leavened cake, made from ground rice, urad dal (white lentil) and beans. This gluten-free food is light and digestible, with high levels of calcium, potassium, and iron. Because idli requires steaming, it doesn’t have probiotics; however, its high iron content is crucial to oxygenating the blood.
Unpasteurized vinegar is considered an extraordinary stimulant. While the majority of vinegar in American grocery stores is a cheap, mass-produced product with absolutely no health benefit, traditional vinegars made with quality alcohols and live cultures possess various health benefits. Vinegar is among the world’s first preservatives, and apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been used as a home remedy for thousands of years. Raw vinegars—made from unpasteurized juice of fruits—contain all the nutrients and enzymes of the fruit used. (For example, ACV contains all the nutrients of apples: pectin, acetic and malic acids, B vitamins, etc.) All in all, vinegar is a tonic that aids digestion, lowers blood pressure, and relieves stress and fatigue. Additionally, consuming vinegar makes it more difficult to absorb sugars and starches. To read more about the variations of vinegar and their specific health benefits, click here.
Miso is a broth formed from fermenting soybeans, barley, or rice, and mold. This popular Asian dish has anti-aging properties, strengthens bones, allows healthy skin, helps lower the risk of cancer, and aids the nervous system. It is alkalizing and delicious – especially when homemade.
Traditionally an Indonesian cake-like dish is made from fermenting soybeans with live molds. Because it possesses the same protein qualities as meat, it’s a great option for vegetarians! It’s high in vitamins, reduces cholesterol, and quickens muscle recovery. Fresh tempeh is more delicious than the stuff you get out of the freezer, alas this is one of the more time-consumptive and difficult ferments to make at home.
This popular Japanese side dish is similar to tempeh, also made from fermented soybeans. The power of natto lies is in its high levels of vitamin K2, a vitamin that delivers calcium appropriately to the body. It’s common that those who take calcium supplements experience absorption problems. When K2 is not delivered to the bones, calcium is deposited into the cardiovascular system and can cause osteoporosis, but with the help of K2, the calcium is distributed properly to help strengthen bones. Natto also contains nattokinase an enzyme used to support cardiovascular health and blood clotting.
Raw cheese and Nut Cheese
Raw milk has not undergone the pasteurization process that kills many of the beneficial bacteria. Goat, sheep, and A2 cows’ cheeses are particularly high in probiotics, healing digestive tissues and studies show it is linked to relieving depressive symptoms and lifting neurological problems. Only raw and unpasteurized cheeses possess probiotics.
Nut cheeses can be made from a variety of nuts: almonds, cashews, macadamia, walnuts, etc. A great substitute for cheese made from animal milk, nut cheese is ideal for those with vegan diets, as well as those who are lactose intolerant. Though the nutritional value isn’t quite the same as raw cheese, nuts provide high levels of protein and healthy fats. By adding probiotics and fermenting them you get a delicious vehicle for probiotic delivery to the gut.
Sourdough starter is a leaven for making bread, comprised of fermented wild yeasts and bacteria. Sourdough has lower sugar levels than most breads, and it helps reduce damaged starches. Because the bacteria and yeasts in sourdough pre-digest the starches, eating it supports gut health and strengthens the bacterial ecosystem, making one is less prone to infection.
Kvass has been brewed in Eastern Europe for several thousands of years, traditionally created by fermenting rye or barley. Nowadays it is usually made with fruits and various root vegetables. Loaded with Lactobacilli probiotics, kvass is known for its ability to cleanse blood and the liver.
This traditional Ethiopian, yeast-risen flatbread can be made from different grains, but generally is made of teff. Packed with proteins, calcium and iron, injera serves to build strength and aid in recovery after illness.
Please keep in mind that many foods not listed here can also be fermented for nutritional value, if done appropriately. Some of these include pumpkin, hot sauces, salsas, daikon, dilly beans, olives and mushrooms. You can learn more about other highly nutrient dense fermented foods in the Fermentationist Certification Program.
For more information on how to use these foods for specific conditions, including recommended amounts, preparation methods, and current scientific research showing the benefits of these healing foods, consider joining us in the Fermentationist Certification Program.
Take the Mystery Out of Latin Names of Probiotics and Other Microorganisms
Don’t let the ancient Latin throw you! Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know about the latin names of microorganisms found in fermented foods.
When you are teaching a class or writing a blog post about microorganisms like bacteria and yeasts (or talking about it at the dinner table like we do all the time at my house!) you may want to double check that you are writing the names properly so you are professional in everything you do.
It may have been awhile since your high school science classes, so below is a refresher so you can have a working knowledge of these organisms at your disposal.
How To Write The Names of Bacteria and Fungus
All these microorganisms follows a certain set of rules called NOMENCLATURE.
When writing bacterial names by hand on a chalkboard or whiteboard, you will want to underline them. When typing the names, you will use italics.
The first name is the GENUS. It is always capitalized. For example, Lactobacillus is the genus. This is the generic name of the kind of bacteria. You may refer to bacteria by their generic name. The plural form of ‘genus’ is ‘genera’.
To get more specific, you will want to include the SPECIES. This is the second word in the name. It is always lowercase. You never refer to bacteria by their species without including the genus. In Lactobacillus casei, the second word, “casei” is the species.
Once you’ve mentioned Lactobacillus you may refer to it as L. casei and L. acidophilus. If you are discussing two different genera that start with the same letter, you will want to write out the entire name of the genus.
Using the genus and species is ideal when discussing bacteria and yeasts. Sometimes a microorganism will have three names. This means there is a subspecies, though for healing and teaching purposes, it is rarely relevant to get this specific.
Voila! You just got smarter!
Love the science? In the Fermentationist Certification Program we delve into the microorganisms that inhabit your favorite fermented foods and your favorite intestines.
Which Latin name for a microorganism do you wish you knew how to pronounce? Tell me in the comments below.
Kombucha is a fermented beverage made with tea, sugar, and a SCOBY—a thin layer of cellulose that houses bacteria and yeast. (Contrary to popular belief, the SCOBY is not a mushroom!) Kombucha is now on the shelves in almost every grocery store and on tap at every startup and tech company… but this drink ain’t new.
This ancient elixir has been consumed for centuries all over the planet because, besides being delicious and fizzy, kombucha’s certain kind of wonderful leads to better digestion, increased energy, and a clearer mind.
Today I spoke with Hannah Crum, author of The Big Book of Kombucha —the brand new book that’s basically the encyclopedia of Kombucha.
Join us for this Guts & Glory podcast where we talk about:
- The vital enzymes and beneficial bacteria strains in kombucha—and how they can help you
- Why Kombucha should be served on tap in every single bar
- How to make your own—and get the most vitamins and beneficial bacteria strains
- How much to drink each day for maximum health benefits
- The number of days to ferment it so it contains less alcohol (yes, this stuff can get boozy!)
- Who shouldn’t drink kombucha
On the podcast I talk about why I don’t personally drink kombucha, so you’ll want to swoop in and eavesdrop on our conversation of this popular fermented beverage.
In early 2014, Kombucha was a $122 million dollar industry. This year sales could be up to $500 million, according to Hannah Crum, who, besides writing the soon-to-be foundational text, [The Big Book of Kombucha], also started Kombucha Brewers International (KBI), an organization with a global membership of nearly 50 producers.
At $4 a pop, this drink can get pricey, but you can make it yourself for practically pennies. Kombucha is also super easy to make at home—though be forewarned…if you get into it, there is no end to the variations and tweaking. (Hannah’s book alone has 400 recipes, and offers troubleshooting, tips, and dozens of glorious photos of brews. This is like porn, for fermentationists.)
Comment below and let me know… What’s your favorite kombucha brand?
Welcome everyone. This is Summer Bock, and you are watching Guts & Glory. Today I’m really excited. I have one of my favorite people. This is Hannah Crum. Hello, Hannah.
Welcome. Hannah is … Well one reason we have her on the show is to go ahead and basically show you “The Big Book of Kombucha”. I’m really excited about this. We’re going to chat about this a lot today. If you don’t know who Hannah is, she’s the Kombucha Kamp’s main force, along with Alex … What’s Alex’s last name?
Alex LaGory. She and Alex are … They work together on this book as well. Kombucha Kamp’s mission is really to change the world one gut at a time by educating and empowering everyone to ferment food and drink safely at home, just as we have throughout human history. Research continues to prove that all living things are truly just bacteria powered, and humans need all the good bacteria we can get, especially in this day and age. Hannah Crum is also known as the Kombucha Mamma, and she’s been brewing kombucha since 2004 and educating others about how easy it is to make this delicious and healthy longevity elixir. This really began as a love of lip puckering brew. This enjoyable process has evolved into her passion, and her lifestyle. In addition to teaching, she installs large scale kombucha set ups and is a master brewer for numerous restaurants and shops in the LA area, as well as consult for many kombucha brands, from those just starting out to established breweries looking to scale up. Welcome. Welcome, welcome, welcome to Guts & Glory.
Thanks. Thanks for having me. The one thing that wasn’t mentioned that I’ll just point out is I’m also president and co-founder of Kombucha Brewers International. Alex and I started that nonprofit trade association to support the bottled beverage industry. I first discovered kombucha by buying it at the store. How about you, Summer? Where did you have your first taste?
That is a good question. I actually think I had my first taste of kombucha at a friend’s house.
I first saw it at a friend’s house, but we didn’t try it. It was just these jars covered with cloths. They go, “That’s the kombucha.” I’m just like, “I don’t even know what that is,” but I came back to LA, they had it all over the Whole Foods. It was love at first sip for me. You know when you try something, and this often happens with fermented foods, when like every nerve in your body just electrifies all of a sudden? You’re like, “Ooooh.” That’s how it felt for me when I had my first sip. I was like, “Oh, I’m in. This is awesome.”
That is so cool. Yeah, I remember that was a time when I was starting to make sauerkraut, and so that’s how it came up in conversation. Like, “Oh yeah, I ferment.” Like okay, I think I’ve heard of this kombucha business. I was a little nervous. I was definitely nervous in our first interaction, I was also-
I have to say sauerkraut was not on my list of foods that I was into growing up. It like smelled weird. Like old feet. I was like, I’m not, no. I never thought I’d be into it. I got into kombucha, and of course my chemistry changed, and my palette changed, and I love sauerkraut. I don’t know, have you seen the Farmhouse Culture’s gut shots where they just put the juice in the bottle?
You used to do that. I remember doing shots over here with you.
Yeah, oh yeah. Shots of brine. It’s one of my favorite things. I mean, so tell us like … Here’s my big question. Is it mamma? Is it baby? Are they kombucha mammas? Are they kombucha babies? Like how can they be a mother and a baby at the same time?
Well, how are we at multiplicitous in all of our beingness? It starts as a baby and very quickly graduates to mamma once we move that little mother ship from one batch to the next. When selecting which culture to use we always recommend what looks the healthiest? What feels the firmest? It’s not always automatically going on auto-pilot. As you know Summer, whenever we’re fermenting it’s really on taste, it’s what we’re observing. It’s a very interactive process. It’s not just I follow the recipe, here’s the result, because there are so many factors that can influence that end product. We really need to have that relationship, that engagement with it.
Right, absolutely. Well, okay so I have so many questions. I know we have such a short amount of time together compared to how long I want to talk to you. I mean obviously, like you wrote this all in a book, so if anybody really wants to take the time, I recommend this book highly, highly. I got it in the mail. I devoured it very quickly. The pictures are gorgeous, first and foremost. I mean it’s just always nice to flip through a book and get an idea of what’s in here just by looking at the visuals. I mean it’s a stunning, stunning piece of art.
Thank you. Yeah, lots of credit to our photographer, Matt Amenderiz and our food stylists Mary and Cooper Karens. The folks at Story just did a tremendous job with the design. I love the interplay of the watercolor elements, which is kind of evocative of kombucha and it’s liquid form, the circle shapes and the bubbles, but then really great photographs to contrast that also … I think people are really going to like it. Of course, I love it. What I thought was really neat was how they portrayed like the different names of the cultures, or the different bacteria. There’s these really fun motifs in there that are visually entertaining while you’re also absorbing all this great information.
Well, I mean because here’s the thing. You’ve made, also, a very like scientific book at the same time. Yet, it’s completely accessible. It doesn’t matter what level a person comes in to read this book. If they’re just like a fermentation fanatic, or if they’re just beginning, like no matter what they’re going to come in here and be able to access the information, get what they need out of it, and not get overwhelmed by the science that you did not hold back on, which is sort of fun for me. I love that piece of it.
Absolutely. Well that’s what we really wanted to do is root it in the science. There’s plenty of kombucha books out there. I suppose most of us who are huge kombucha fans remember Günther Frank’s book from ’95. That was kind of the first time we saw illusion to or references to the vast body of research that has been conducted on kombucha. One of the knocks on the american websites, and really part of why I started Kombucha Kamp as a blog, was to provide accurate information about kombucha. It was frustrating for me to read different websites talking about the dangers of kombucha when this so clearly is such a safe, healthy, easy to do process, just like all of the fermentation processes are. I really needed to dig in and share that more authentic information. Having that research portion was really vital to the book. It’s part of what sets it apart from some of the other books out there, is we really do give you that deeper slice.
Again, it’s not taking over the whole book. Like you said, even if that’s not what you’re interested in, you’ve got the 200 and some odd flavorings with all the pretty paintings there, and lots of technique and how tos so anyone who’s wanting to figure this out, or afraid to take that first step, we really break it down so that you have access to the information and it feels really easy to absorb.
That’s awesome. I mean I think I do have to say, I want to be fully transparent to you. Like I work with people who suffer from gut issues, dysbyosis, candida, and I work with people who I recommend to not drink kombucha just based on their health conditions. For my own self, like I had a client recently and I love this. I’m just going to say it’s the coolest thing ever, because I don’t really drink alcohol, and I’m really trying to push to get the bars in my area that serve beer to serve kombucha on tap. She called it, a little shout out to Gail, she called it the designated driver’s drink.
Absolutely. That is one of the education points that we’re working on with KBI this year is to create a brochure so that bars understand you’re not giving up a beer tap to something that’s not going to sell, or not going to have real value to it. If anything, you’re broadening the opportunity for your clients to come enjoy even more of their experience at the bar because when you give someone either that, like you said, designated driver option, it’s fun, it’s not the same old soda, it’s not full of sugar, it has unique flavor profiles, moreover it’s a terrific cocktail mixer.
One of kombucha’s really helpful benefits to the human body is it makes that gluconic and glucaronic acid. These acids support healthy liver function, and when we remember that the liver’s our filter, so that’s where alcohol, pharmaceuticals, everything that we’re absorbing, that our body needs to process and prevent from entering our bloodstream, that’s going through the liver first. If you’re consuming a beverage that supports the liver, and keeps it clean and running smoothly as it should, you not only feel a lot better, but you’re able to metabolize that alcohol, metabolize those xenobiotics, metabolize those things so much easier. Think about it like this, when you have a clean filter of course the system’s going to run better.
Absolutely. Well, I mean what’s interesting to me about kombucha is that there are a few studies, not studies, there’s these like two stories of people dying, and we’re going to put this out there and we’re going to slash it down. The crazy thing to me is that there’s a recent study that just came out that talks about how 11,000 people die per year from liver failure from taking Tylenol. Like that is out, it is proof, it’s out there people. That is the truth about Tylenol, acetaminophen. 11,000 people a year die from liver failure from acetaminophen. Like just let that sink in. Like think about the last time you took Tylenol, or acetaminophen without worrying about it, without fearing for your life, and now think about like any of the fear around kombucha. That like-
It makes no sense.
It makes no absolutely no sense.
It’s totally outside. It’s like two people maybe had an issue with it. It happened in 1995, and therefore we should all be afraid. This is the pattern of kombucha. It has been around for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, and it’s always had these kind of ebbs and flows where there will be points when it peaks in popularity, and something will come out about it and everyone will freak out and get rid of it. There’s a couple of those stories in the book. The one about Stalin is pretty interesting if you’re into history. There’s also, even here in the U.S. with those women in ’95 or whatever. Kombucha’s one of these things that continues I think to persist in our consciousness because we really need it.
I feel like part of why it’s coming to fruition, and manifesting in the form it is right now is because we are at the height of toxic absorption. Our bodies are the canaries in the coalmine. The incidence of autoimmune disease, metabolic disease, just people feel terrible because they’re being poisoned by everything. The air, the water, the food, the beauty products. Everything is loaded with chemicals. Our bodies are freaking out, and when you only deal with symptoms and never the root cause, you never get to what it is that’s actually happening to your body. You think of symptoms as your internal working’s way of expressing to the outer self, “Hey there’s a problem in here. We need to go inside and fix what’s happening,” but it’s not until you’re seeing those external manifestations that you can truly get your head wrapped around it. What’s interesting is so many people live with this illness, live with this pain and suffering, on a daily basis. Not understanding that it’s connected to what they’re putting in and on their bodies. Not realizing that these are our friends, these fermented foods. All of them. The kombuchas, the kefirs, the kavaases, the krauts. Why do they all start with k? I don’t know, but in any case they all … Maybe because they have vitamin K. They help you feel good. How do you put a price tag on feeling good? How do you quantify feeling good?
It’s the thing we hear people say time and time again when they drink kombucha, “It makes me feel good.” When you consider that the yeast have all the B vitamins in living form, some testing has shown appreciable amounts of B-12 in that living form being bioavailable to people in kombucha, and it makes a lot of sense why this is a really great beverage for all kinds of people. It has every amino acid, every essential amino acid. Now I’m not talking about in massive quantities, but it’s also when we remember that too much of anything is toxic. Too much is toxic. It’s less is more when it comes to almost anything we think of. I know we imagine we’re feeding this giant organism, this big human body, but really what we’re feeding are the bacteria, and the bacteria are microscopic. We can’t even see them, so we don’t need massive quantities of anything. We need high-quality, nutrient dense, think trace amounts of quality items, is what really your body needs in order to thrive. Kombucha is not necessarily for every immune system, because some people, their gut dysbiosis might be so severe, they need a milk kefir, they need a coconut water kefir first in order to repair. Usually once they’ve done some repair work, kombucha can then be added in at that time.
Also, kombucha has, like I said before with the detox properties for the liver, sometimes your immune system isn’t ready to release all of those things back into your system, and so you have to do it gradually. That’s where trusting your gut, listening to your body, is so crucial. I think that’s what you and I both do. We try to teach people biofeedback. If you put something in here, observe how it makes your body feel. Do you have a huh-huh in your throat? Do you have a drippy nose? Do you have … There’s many many ways in which our body will indicate to us, this thing I just consumed is not working for me. The other is true. This thing I just consumed, I feel great! I’ve got all this energy. I’m feeling alive again, or I’ve got movement where I didn’t before, whatever that might be. It’s really listening to your individual body, and giving what your individual body needs as opposed to getting hung up on all the orthorexic rules, and this diet, and that diet, and what should I eat over here and over there?
There are some really interesting infant studies, which you may already know about, where they’re allows to just select any food that they want. They’ll gravitate towards one thing on one day, another thing on a another day, but by the end of the week, they’ve given their bodies everything that they need, and did anyone tell them what they had to eat? No, because your DNA knows. Your DNA has so much information encoded into it, if you just listen to it, you just listen and allow that information to resonate in your being, you will find the inputs that work for you. You might be vegetarian most of the time, but every once in a while your body says, “Hey I need a steak,” or whatever that is. It doesn’t mean that you’re violating your principles. It just means you’re giving your body what it needs in the quantities that it needs. Again, it’s not that all or nothing type of thing. We live in the subtleties, as much as our culture tries to tell us otherwise.
Yeah well, so I have a niece who’s almost two years old. I see this study in practice every day because one day you’re like oh you loved that yesterday, and she’s like nothing to do with it the next day. It is pretty amazing. It’s really cool. That is something that I teach in my gut rebuilding program is that whole concept of intuitive eating because it’s hugely important, and if you don’t have the right bacteria in your body, then you’re actually listening to potentially dysbiotic bacteria, and potentially yeasts, that are actually tell you to eat sugar, and processed foods, and easy to digest simple carbs because that’s what they like to eat. There’s this like interesting difference between like your own physical DNA and your own intuition, and then there’s this whole conglomerate of bacteria and their DNA, and what they want to eat. They can communicate through your nervous system, and basically tell you what to eat as well. You have two big voices to listen to, and I find that that’s one of the reasons you really want try to be healthier and actually get some of these probiotic rich foods in your diet so that you’re choosing which bacteria are going to be communicating to your brain, so you’re not a sugar zombie, essentially. That’s what I think of them as.
Exactly, right. There’s five hundred to a thousand different types of bacteria, and that’s just the most recent guess. Who knows what else they’re going to figure out or find out? You’re not going to get all of that from one fermented food, or one fermented drink. While it’s great to start with one, and we think kombucha’s a terrific gateway to other fermented foods, to feeling good, to nutrition in a living form, it’s about a variety. Getting a variety, and in living form I think is really crucial. Now there are times when taking probiotic supplements might be beneficial in certain cases, but I truly believe that getting your nutrition in food based formats is … Look it’s what we evolved to do. We didn’t evolve to eat supplements. We evolved to play in the dirt, and get our hands dirty, and let those bacteria coat our bodies. We evolved to let the dog lick us on the face, to kiss the baby with the slobber, to even have wet nurses and pass them around from boob to boob and get different immune systems in them. I mean really what we’re here to do is to connect. It’s common immunity. Community.
It’s when we come together. When we light the stove we throw out our nanofibers of cellulose, and connect with each other. That’s where, I mean again, strength in numbers, and we’re not isolated, and we start to stand up and say, “Hey you can’t poison me anymore. I’m not going to tolerate this. I’m going to look for a better food source. I want to be an organic farmer. I want to provide organic vegetables for my neighborhood or community, or whatever that is.” That’s what changing the world one gut at a time is about. It’s not about a specific outcome.
When you are back in balance, when you have that energy, when you’re not dealing with being sick everyday or worrying about what to eat because is it going to send me to the bathroom, or whatever that is, when you have that energy to now reinvigorate your own family, your own community, I am really confident that when people feel good again, they’re going to go and do great things to help others feel good.
Oh, that’s so true. Okay, so before we move on to some specific questions about making kombucha, and some of your tricks, I do have another like health style question for you. One of my big issues in my own healing journey was dealing with like massive candida and dysbiosis. Like kombucha for me really was like, there was a gateway period where it helped me … It actually helped me a lot in the beginning. Like got my digestion up and running and like was really part of that process in the beginning, but then I reached a point where I really couldn’t drink it in any frequency without getting a candida flare-up to come back. Personally, that was for me. I found that like no matter how long it sat and fermented, until it was pretty much vinegar, it was too much sugar, and I’m a slow caffeine metabolizer, and I just really can’t handle the caffeine either. It like boosts up my cortisol levels essentially. I can’t sleep, like it’s bad. It doesn’t work for me at this point.
It did at one time, and I would, if they had it at the bars, I would absolutely be there person being like, “All right get me a pint of that kombucha tonight.” That would be fun to hang out with my friends and like have my own special drink. It wouldn’t be all the time. For me, that’s how I’d rather use it in that style, personally. I guess my question for you, because I work with so many fermentationists in training, and fermentationists who do enjoy kombucha, and there’s this discrepancy where I talk about my personal experience, and I talk about the clients that I deal with with candida and various other things who when we remove it, it is better, but then we have this whole conglomerate of people out there who are benefiting from this on a regular basis. I don’t want to take away from that side of it. I just really wanted you to … If you could just speak for a minute about, I’m going to throw like three points at you here, but kind of the concept around this being a health food, like the probiotic quality of it, and talk about the sugar as well, and like how you see this fitting into somebody’s diet, and working. Like I want my people who love their kombucha and drink it to like have that moment.
Totally, again that’s coming back to trusting your gut. Many people have had candida overgrowth, they drink kombucha, and it really helps them get rid of it, but oftentimes you have to go through a die off period. That can feel like, oh well the kombucha’s causing it then, as opposed to if I stick through this I know I’m going to get out on the other side it’s just, you’re literally beating them back into submission, and they’re like, “No I don’t want to go!” They’re freaking out, so your body’s like “Ahhhhh!” It can definitely create a lot of problems. There are known candidacides in kombucha, but like you said, we do need to ferment the sugar out of it because here’s the issue, if you’re drinking a commercial kombucha they’re not also vinegary, right? Kombucha’s essentially tea vinegar, but for most people the concept of drinking vinegar would be like, “Oh there’s no way I would do that.” In order to kind of bridge people into the category, many brands have chosen to be a lighter profile, to maybe have a sweeter flavor than you might get in a really traditional fermenting kombucha. That sometimes can create an issue because there might be more sugar present in those flavors.
Again, it’s listening to your body and how is it reacting. Are you … I can’t tell any one person what die off feels like. I can’t tell any one person how long that’s going to take or what you have to go through to get to that other side. That’s why sometimes reverting back to those coconut water kefirs … Kombucha has caprylic acid, but coconut water kefir has a lot more. In terms of organisms and diversity in probiotic, the definition of probiotic, if we take it just in what the base words mean, pro-biotic, for life, kombucha’s definitely probiotic. Does it have the same number and quantity of bacteria or organisms as other beverages? Not necessarily. That’s again why we emphasize a variety of fermented foods because you’re going to get the full monopoly then of the different types. Kombucha’s an acetic acid ferment, so you’ve got your glucon acetic factors. It’s not really a lacto-ferment, though lactobacillus are also important. Whether we’re getting those from our sauerkraut, or our yogurts, that’s why you have those variety there.
In terms of … Candida and diabetes are both sugar sensitive, cancer as well, and kombucha has a lot of research and history. If you got to the book into that back section, the appendix, you’ll see some of those research studies demonstrating it’s efficacy in helping with those specific things. That’s because it’s able to just metabolize and get the junk out. You do have to listen to your body, you do have to realize it might not be right for me right now, but it’s going to be right for me later. It’s finding that balance between everything. Like you said, it’s again, it’s that idea of balance. If we’re always drinking one thing all the time, at some point that might be out of balance. It can be good to take breaks. I myself have an ebb and flow with my kombucha. I like to drink [inaudible 00:23:56] every day.
You like to drink how much every day?
Well some days I have none, and some days I have eight ounces, and some days I have thirty-two ounces. It just really varies depending on where am I, what’s going on, what’s happening. Always on the road when I travel I love to buy kombucha wherever I go. First of all, whenever you’re travelling you’re exposed to so many foreign organisms, and secondarily, I love to taste the local flavors because it really is a craft product. It’s not like a soda where you’re expecting the same flavor again and again. Each brand has their own style of brewing it, their own way of flavoring it. Just like you have ten hefeweizens, or twenty pinot noir’s, or whatever all on a shelf next to each other, and they’re all there, different price points, that’s what kombucha is. It is this craft, unique beverage. I think that gives people a huge opportunity to try all different kinds. Like maybe you’ll try a kombucha and you’ll be like, “Nah, I don’t like that.” Well try a different flavor. Try a different brand. There’s probably a kombucha out there that fits your needs, your flavor profile, and your desire.
If you are dealing with those more intense issues, making it at home is sometimes better. Even if you buy store bought, let it sit. Let it get more tangy in the bottle, as opposed to being fresh and sweet from the store. Those are some ways you can work with it, but really it’s so individual Summer. There are kombucha files. There are people who are self-proclaimed kombuchaholics, or whatever, which I don’t think they’re addicted to anything. It’s more their body feels good, they get a nutritional benefit, and where’s that nutrition coming from? The tea. If we look at tea, tea is already such an incredibly healthy beverage. The polyphenols, the antioxidants, the calcium, the magnesium, all of these nutrients are made more bioavailable, easier for your body to absorb in a form that you can instantly utilize and catalyze all of those reactions. It’s really listening. It all comes back to that. You’ve just got to listen.
I have my friends at Harvest Roots, they came over just the other day after the farmer’s market, and they make amazing krauts, and they make these incredible kombucha blends. The one they brought over was elderberry lemongrass.
It’s really cool what you can do in terms of flavoring kombucha, and like coming up with, using even like some medicinal qualities from other herbs as well combined with the tea benefits. Tell me some of your favorite recipes, or favorite blends that you’ve tried.
Well what I’m drinking right now, which you’ve probably seen me sipping, is elderflower lemon, so I just … Plants and herbs have been here to support us the whole time. Humans evolved this strategy where they’ll eat a little bit of a lot of things. Again, it’s that concept of if I eat too much of just one thing, that might be toxic for me. Looking to nature, looking to those flowers and plants, your garden is a great place for inspiration. That’s where I made some of my earliest flavors, garden dew, which was rosemary, lavender, thyme, oregano, just things I found in my garden and put into my kombucha.
Think about it like this, kombucha, like I said, tea vinegar, vinegar extracts nutritional value into it. It’s a carrier. It’s the catalyst for those things. Whenever you’re infusing herbs, flowers, or whatever into your kombucha, those nutritional benefits are passed onto you. That’s also why when you put those elderberries in there, you get that beautiful purple color. All that anthocyanin, all of those nutritional components are being passed on to the beverage. The flavor that got Alex hooked, which he thought I was a total weirdo making this stuff at home when I was not a cook at all, definitely standard american diet back then, was pink lemonade. That’s a strawberry lemon thyme, and yes. It remains one of our most popular flavors. Then one of my favorites, and I called it Love Potion 99, because I love to drink it, is blueberry lavender rose. A lot of these recipes are in the book, but like you’ve said we’ve got bacon recipes, we’ve got mushroom recipes, we’ve got all kinds. You can so creative with this stuff, it’s fascinating.
I have not tried said recipe, but-
Yeah and it was so fun researching the recipes for this book because obviously we wanted to make things that were fun and accessible for people. Things they already enjoy, but then some little twists. That banana ketchup was really a food of necessity in terms of how it came into being. During World War II, tomatoes were scarce in the Philippines, and so this wonderful food scientist figured out a way to make ketchup so people could feel good about it out of bananas. It’s really good.
I can’t wait. That’s totally amazing. Okay, so then here’s … Just to put it out there, like making kombucha’s pretty easy. I want to just give some of the more advanced people who have been doing kombucha for a while, I want to give them an opportunity to get some tips from you right now. There’s two big questions that I get on a regular basis about kombucha, and one is second ferment. Can you talk a little bit about what second ferment is, and some of your favorite additions to the second ferment?
Well that’s what we’ve just been talking about. Flavoring is secondary fermentation. We always do our primary fermentation with just the tea and sugar, because we want to protect the mother culture. Some herbs have high amounts of essential oils. They might be antimicrobial, which to me is always like okay anti-which microbial? In any case, we just to protect the culture, we keep those things separate. Secondary fermentation is also where we build the carbonation. In order to do that we need some of the yeast bodies present. [inaudible 00:29:43] can just stir it first before it pours out of the spigot in order to get some of that yeast in the bottle. Once the yeast is in the bottle you add that little bit of flavoring, nutrition for the yeast, the ginger, the fruit, whatever it is, and that drives the carbonation up again.
Now because it’s capped in that bottle we get our bubbles in there. Bubbles are a primal signal. They’re a signal that nutrition is present because how did ancient people know that microbes were doing their work. First of all, they had no clue there were microbes. They had to look for the bubbles. The bubbles look like the same bubbles you see in a boiling pot of water. What’s so neat is that root word for ferment, is fevere, which means to boil because it was always by witnessing the bubbles that people knew something was happening, something good was happening. That’s unfortunately the bait and switch of sodas. We call those simulacrum. They are mimicking, they are imitating, all of the qualities of these beverage that we instinctually know are good for us, but then replacing them with things that addictive chemicals, that are cancer causing potentially, that really offer no nutritional benefit, and worse they often rob your body of needed nutrients. I really think we’re going to see, not just kombucha, not just kefir, but all kinds of traditional fermented beverages continue to bubble up in a commercial way. I’m really excited about that.
We’re even seeing people combining kombucha and kefir. Kefir has a softer flavor, a little bit milder, can temper the tanginess of the booch, and now you’ve got even more probiotics in there. I think we’re going to see a lot of really fun, creative stuff. Same with the cocktails. I know we have a prohibition hangover in this country, but alcohol’s a vital nutrient, and again it’s when we consume it in the right quantity at the right time. Now I’m not saying everyone should go out there and drink alcohol. You have to, again, listen to your body and do what’s right for you, but I think if we start to put it back into it’s appropriate cultural position, we can enjoy it in a healthier way. In a way that supports life, as opposed to becomes a negative drag on the body.
It’s an invaluable preservative, and when we think about the root cause of disease being diet and stress, we all know having that first couple of sips, it all melts away. Those trace amounts of alcohol not only help to carry nutrition, they also help to relax the organism, and in kombucha it’s metabolized so quickly there’s not a negative effect. Now, some people who are really sensitive to these things, they might feel something, but a lot of people also report those same feelings of euphoria from getting a B vitamin shot. Is it nutrition in a living form that you’re just not accustomed to experiencing, versus inebriation. I think that’s the case more often than not. Again, there’s people allergic to peanuts, there’s people allergic to anything in the world, so it’s always again, that communication with yourself.
Well, and so one of my fermentationists, Riah, she has this question because she keeps making kombucha, and she had it tested actually and it keeps coming back with really high alcohol content. I saw that you had some good tips in the book. I was wondering if you could share with me a couple tips. I can tell you she does two and a half gallons of tea, with 1 and 3/4 cups sugar. I’m just curious if you have any tips. That didn’t seem over the top crazy to me in terms of sugar content, so maybe it’s something else.
Yeah, it sounds like the initial sugar being reduced to that level should yield lower amounts of alcohol, that is true, but again what’s creating the alcohol is the yeast. It’s always the yeast. Now what limits the alcohol in kombucha is the bacteria. There’s a couple of different techniques. One of course is filtering out the yeast. Remember when you filter out the yeast you filter out that nutrition. I mean there’s still some in there, but you’re filtering out some of that, and also flavor. Like when you go and look at beer and wine have been studied for hundreds and hundreds of years, so much research, and more often than not you’re tying specific yeast strains to different flavors that come through. Remembering that that’s going to be part of what you’re compromising in that process, but it is still very possible to make an under half a percent kombucha that tastes delicious, and doesn’t lack it’s body, but filtering the yeast is an important thing to do if you need to minimize that. Also, letting it age longer in the bottle, which is hard if you’re trying to do it commercially because then you have to hold product, you have to have storage for that, you have to come back and check on it, this, that, and the other. I think we’ll eventually see folks evolve into these different styles of fermenting kombucha in that way.
The interesting thing about the 0.5 percent is it’s a number not tied to anything. It’s either alcoholic or not, so at that point it should be .00001. It’s alcoholic. That doesn’t make any sense. Fruit juice has trace amounts of alcohol, so does energy drinks. [crosstalk 00:34:41]
She ages it seven to nine days. What would you recommend?
Yeah that’s not long enough.
How long would you go?
For two and a half gallons? I would say ten to fourteen days would be a good amount to start with, but again, you’re dealing with taste preference. It depends on what you’re trying to do. Sometimes mixing older kombucha with younger kombucha because the older stuff has less alcohol, it’s a little tangier, but you’re still tempering the flavor. That’s kind of what we get in a continuous brew. That’s our favorite way to make kombucha because it’s just so easy. It streamlines the whole process. Everything goes into your vessel. It comes out your spigot. You just keep with that process. There has been some initial research showing that it may help fight the levels of glucaronic acid with that reintroduction of sugar at that point in the process. It offers additional glucose to those organisms creating the glucaronic acid. Again, that’s just an initial study.
It’s always about balancing these things. I try not to get too hung up on the does it have this one strain? Does it have this amount of this vitamin or whatever, because it’s really that intuitive eating, that trusting your gut. Your body knows what it needs, and we don’t need a number in order to quantify that. That only gets our brains confused a lot of times, and focused on the wrong things. Again, it’s diversity, just like nature. Nature loves diversity. You walk out your door, what do you see? You don’t just see only grass. You see the birds, and the bees, and trees, and flowers, and different types of grass. Nature loves diversity. It loves diversity of ideas, it loves diversity of opinions, it loves diversity of colors, and freckles, and all kinds of things. If we embrace that diversity, and realize that just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s bad or anything, I think we find there’s room for everybody, for all kinds of organisms to thrive together.
High five for that. All right. Well we could keep jamming on this stuff forever. Just for everybody, like remember this is called “The Big Book of Kombucha”. It really is the encyclopedia of kombucha as far as I’m concerned. Like this is where you need to go to get your answers, and ideas, and really a lot of troubleshooting, like if you want to keep it safe, like read this. Then, you also have a tour going on. If you’re watching this in time for the national tour of “The Big Book of Kombucha” there’s some great tour dates out there. You can probably go onto what? Kombuchakamp.com to get to that?
That is correct. Kombuchakamp.com. We have a free recipe there if you’re new to kombucha. You can download that. You can also click on to find our tour dates. We’ll be doing all different kinds of fun events. Some are cocktail parties with tastings, some are book signings in the book store, but all of them are going to have kombucha samples because we have partnered with our friends in the commercial world to make sure everyone has a chance to try some kombuchas while we’re talking about it because there’s nothing more fun than … I don’t know about you Summer, but I love talking about food and like talk about the qualities of it, and what did I like, and what didn’t I like. I think our minds enjoy those levels of sophistication. We know about single-estate shade grown coffees, and pu-erh tea that’s been fermented for, you know what I’m saying? Humans love that kind of information. Really excited to share kombucha, and our love of kombucha, and our kombucha livestock philosophy with everyone. Thanks so much for having me on, and sharing this with your people.
Absolutely, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for all the hard work that you put into this book. I remember back when you were talking about this, it was quite a while ago, and it’s wonderful to see this come to fruition. Thanks for that, and everyone this is Hannah Crum and Summer Bock signing out. Bye bye.