When I first embarked on the GAPS Diet in 2014, gut health was still considered a little bit woo. Nowadays it’s becoming mainstream, and was recently discussed on the BBC program Trust Me I’m A Doctor. On the show, home fermented foods came out winning as a method of promoting gut health.
Why you might ask?
Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria (also known as good bacteria or beneficial bacteria). A lack of good bacteria is said to be the root cause of many autoimmune conditions, and when we eat fermented foods we add these good bacteria to our intestinal flora. This increases our gut health, which in turn increases the health of our digestive system and boosts our immune system.
Fermented foods are also easier to digest than regular food, as a lot of the work has already been done for us in the fermentation process.
Whilst taking probiotic supplementation is the most convenient way of promoting gut health, there’s no denying that quality supplements cost a small fortune. Low cost supplements are pointless taking, and yield little value if any to our gut. Home fermented food and drinks are the very best – and most cost effective way – of getting probiotics into our lives. Here are three easy wins for you to get your gut health on track without it breaking the bank!
Kefir for gut health
Kefir is a fermented drink, and is one of the most powerful natural sources of probiotics we have readily available. In a nutshell kefir grains are little live strains of good bacteria and yeast, and are exceptionally good for us. Note: they are not an actual grain, as in wheat, but are referred to as grains.
You can ferment kefir in water or milk. Perhaps because of my long standing issues with dairy, I find the milk kefir too potent. It bloats me, whereas I tolerate water kefir just beautifully. I swapped out my probiotic supplements for water kefir about a year ago, and have continued feeling the benefits.
Check out the video below for a full tutorial, and Q&A session on the benefits of water kefir.
Sauerkraut for gut health
Once fermented, cabbage is a fabulous source of probiotics. Although tasty, most commercially made sauerkraut has been pasteurized, which destroys the good bacteria. Home fermented sauerkraut is a delicious and simple way of adding probiotic goodness to your diet.
Making it for the first time can be a little daunting, but once you get into the swing of fermenting your own foods it won’t take up too much of your time.
Ingredients (to fit into a 500ml jar)
1.5 tbsp sea salt
Sterilised glass jar
– finely slice (shred) your cabbage and grate your carrots, then put everything into a large bowl and sprinkle over the salt
note: you can leave out the carrot, and bump the cabbage up to 500g if you’d prefer
– massage the cabbage with your hands to squeeze every last drop of natural juice out of it, then start packing it as tightly as possible, into your jar, ensuring the veg is completely submerged in liquid. It is imperative that you don’t leave any space for air to get into the jar, if you do it could go mouldy. Put the lid on loosely
– leave to ferment on your kitchen side for around a week, depending on how hot it is. Check daily to ensure there is still no air getting into the jar, and there is no pressure building up
– once it’s ready store in the fridge
Yoghurt for gut health
Commercially made yoghurt is widely available, but again it’s never going to be as good for you as home made. I’ve been making my own out of a mixture of goat milk and goat double cream for a few years now, and the whole family adores it.
I’ve never gotten around to posting a tutorial, however my lovely friend Vicki who writes the Free From Fairy has done.
For my recipe, substitute the 600ml of double cream for 775ml whole goat milk, and a 125ml goat double cream. The rest of the process stays exactly the same.