Michele Grosvenor Perth Naturopath at NatMed answers:
Are fermented foods better for us and for our gut function?
Your microbiome is essentially your body’s brain. Bacteria in the gut are like a computer that holds the intelligence to program your body’s processes. An example is bacteria, that program the mast cells which are part of the immune system. The microbiome delivers information that tells the mast cells how to behave. Perth Naturopath Michele Grosvenor takes the mystery out of the microbiome and fermented foods…
Looking after your microbiome is an essential aspect of maintaining excellence in health.
If the microbiome becomes dysregulated, then auto immune dysfunction ensues.
This causes a potential cascade of histamine and inflammation resulting in a myriad of symptoms such as….
- Hives or swollen lips
- Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
- Chronic fatigue
- Poor brain function
- Any auto immune problem where mast cell function is not self regulating and where corticosteroids or anti histamines may be prescribed
So How did Fermentation Begin?
The art of fermenting originally evolved as a preservation method. This enabled man to store food without the need for refrigeration. Today many cultures worldwide still include fermented foods or beverages in their daily diets and benefit from their numerous health properties. As a Naturopath and Gaps practitioner I use fermented foods for all my clients in Perth.
How does a food become fermented?
By a process called Lacto-fermentation. Whereby Lactobacilli bacteria metabolize sugars and starches into lactic-acid. This process is anaerobic; with the lactic acid naturally preserving the food by creating an acidic environment which discourages the growth of putrefying bacteria.
So why are fermented foods good for us?
Just as you fertilize your garden, you need to fertilize your gut to grow good quality bacteria.
When you expose your gut flora to things that harm it then the microbiome intelligence is compromised. Through poor dietary habits, the use of antibiotics and medication, pathogenic bacteria and viruses, alcohol consumption and stress, they become compromised. Consuming fermented foods helps protect them from these stressors and also provides benefits such as:
- Increased gut bacteria diversity
- Healing and soothing to your gut lining
- Increased absorption of vitamins A, B, C, biotin and active enzymes
- Better digestion and stomach acid
- Regulate your stools
- Increases elimination of toxins via liver and bowel
- Enhances immune function
- Produces short chain fatty acids to feed the microbiome.
How can I get some into my diet?
It is best to introduce fermented foods gradually to allow your body time to adjust. If you don’t introduce it slowly you may experience symptoms of over-fermentation such as bloating. Instead, include them as a condiment; add them to foods or have them as a side dish.
Some popular fermented foods are
- Salsa or chutney
- Cultured vegetables or
- Yoghurt, or drink them as a beverage such as
- Beetroot kvass
Commercially prepared versions are readily available to buy but check the label. Many use methods that destroy bacteria through heating and pasteurizing processes. Some use vinegar as a fermenting brine which is not ideal.
Fermenting is more of an art than a science. With a little experimentation it is easy to make your own. This gives you the freedom to choose the ingredients and flavours that appeal to you.
So let’s get fermenting!
There are several different ways to ferment. Traditional processes use good quality salt, which is a slower fermenting process but produces a crisp texture which retains its shape. Other methods incorporate whey, a dairy based culture produced from separating yoghurt into curds, or you can purchase freeze dried vegetable starter cultures which help to accelerate the fermentation process.
To kick start your home fermenting I have included 2 easy to make recipes – happy fermenting!
Fermenting Recipes by Perth Naturopath and GAPS practitioner Michele Grosvenor
CHOPPED SALAD PICKLE
(adapted from Sarah Wilson’s Simplicious book)
Makes a 500ml jar
½ tsp of spices or herbs (choose from chilli flakes, peppercorns, bay leaf, dill, fennel or coriander seeds)
1 ½ cups chopped vegetables (choose from cauliflower, zucchini, beans, beetroot, carrot, red onion, capsicum)
1 cup filtered water mixed with ½ tsp of Himalayan pink salt
Place your spices/herbs into glass jar.
Layer chopped vegetables into jar leaving 4cm free at the top of the jar.
Pour in the water/salt mixture over vegetables leaving 3 cm clear at the top of the jar.
Place a cabbage leaf or weight on top of your vegetables to completely submerge them in the liquid.
Loosely seal the jar and store on the kitchen bench at room temperature for between 2-7 days (the colder it is the longer it will take).
Taste them on day 2/3, it should taste a bit tart and the liquid should be fizzy.
When ready seal the lid tightly, place in the fridge and add to your next meal.
The pickle will keep for several months.
Recipes from the kitchen of Perth Naturopath Michele Grosvenor
Makes 1 ½ ltrs
3 medium organic/biodynamic Beetroots, peeled and coarsely chopped
½ cup whey (see Note)
2 tsps. Himalayan sea salt
Place beetroot, whey & salt into a 1 ½ litre glass jar.
Fill with filtered water leaving 1 inch from the top of the jar.
Stir & secure lid onto jar.
Keep at room temperature for 2-7 days depending on weather before transferring to the fridge.
It should taste tangy.
Consume 1 tbsp. of the liquid diluted before meals – gradually increasing until you are having 30mls each day before meals
Note: to make whey, choose a good quality natural yoghurt and line a colander with muslin cloth or a clean tea towel sitting in a bowl. Pour the yoghurt into the lined colander and allow to drip overnight in the fridge. In the morning you will have a liquid in the bowl, which is the whey, and the curd left in the tea towel. The curd can be mixed with herbs and spices to make a delicious dip base.
If you want more help or information on fermented foods you can join Perth Naturopath, Michele Grosvenor for her work shops, attend for a quick gut health check or an extended appointment. Also make sure to keep updated on NatMed’s blogs and recipes for healthy eating.
•General health and wellness protocols
•Children’s health and Autism
•Neurological conditions such as Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, ADHD and learning issues
•Autoimmune conditions and chronic conditions that have failed to improve with other treatments
•GAPS dietary protocol and Paleo practices
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