Fermenting; Good Gut Food
Grace practitioner Kara Mia has studied gut health extensively, identifying new ways to support the good bacteria which is so essential to all aspects of our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Here she discusses the practice of fermenting and its extensive benefits – as well as sharing her irresistible Kimchi recipe…
The gut is connected to everything that happens in your body and taking care of your gut should be as much of a priority as brushing your teeth, bathing or even exercising.
One very simple step you can take to nurture the bacteria living in the gut is to opt for fermented food – preferably homemade.The earliest record of fermentation dates back as far as 6000 B.C. In the absence of refrigerators the question was, “How do I keep this glut/bounty of the harvest for a super long time?”
Break it down…
Fermentation is actually a sort of pre-digestion that takes place when naturally present bacteria, usually of the lactobaccillus or bifidus strains, (or sometimes yeasts) begin breaking down the sugars and starches in the food. Traditional lacto-fermentation utilises the microflora present on vegetables. Once upon a time, all pickles were naturally fermented through lacto-fermentation, which is why some people use the terms “pickled” and “fermented” synonymously.
As these bacteria divide, the process forms lactic acid and sometimes acetic acid or alcohol which halts the growth of the ‘bad’ or putrefying bacteria. This acid is also responsible for the sour taste that comes along with fermented foods.
However, not all fermented foods are equal. Yes, wine and beer are fermented but they undergo a final pasteurisation process that removes any live bacteria. Other fermented foods sold off-the-shelf are baked, like sourdough bread, canned or jarred – all of which have had the live bacteria removed through pasteurisation.
Five Reasons to Start Fermenting…
- The nutrients in the food are more bioavailable(as pre-digested), so our bodies can reap the benefits
- It promotes the friendly intestinal bacteria and restores proper balance in the gut
- Various strains of probiotics are formed in the fermentation process making it the most effective, sustainable and cheapest probiotic there is.
- Amazing blood sugar balancer. Balanced blood sugar is very important for our health and weight management – you will find you will not put on weight so easily.
- Produces and increases acetylcholine which is a neurotransmitter essential for memory, has a calming effect and can lower blood pressure.
Feed your Good Bacteria…
In the interests of encouraging all to show their gut a little love, below is a simple, delicious recipe for kimchi. It adds a flavoursome punch to all sorts of dishes and is an excellent addition to the diet. Make a big batch – it can be safely stored for up to six months.
Simple Kimchi Recipe
- 1 head Chinese cabbage, chopped
- Daikon radish, chopped, or carrots, celery, green beans,
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1-2 inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 1 Organic apple
- 2 tbsp of Korean Red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like it
- 1-2 tsp of fish sauce/ Nam Pla, optional
- Trim ends of cabbage and chop any way you want – thin or thick strips is fine. Chop the daikon radish/ other veg up too.
- In a big bowl add the salt to the vegetables and water and mix thoroughly. Leave overnight covered.
- In a food processor, blend the garlic, ginger and chili flakes, fish sauce and apple into a paste. Thoroughly mix the cabbage, veg and paste using gloves as the chilli can really sting!
- Pack mixture into glass mason jars with a blunt ended kitchen tool.
- Press mixture firmly into jars until the water level starts rising. This is the key! This anaerobic salty brine solution in which the magic of fermentation happens. Bad bacteria can NOT form in this brine solution.
- Continue pressing until everything is submerged. Leave at least an inch between the water and the top of the jar. Put the lids on and leave at room temperature for 2-7 days. Open every day to release the gasses that form as a byproduct. If the water level rises, drain some off. If the vegetables rise above the level of the water, pack them back under with your hands or the veggie stomper.
- Taste the kimchi after 5 days. It should taste pleasantly sour. If not, continue to let it ferment and taste it every day until you find the taste acceptable. Transfer to the fridge where it will continue to ferment (and the taste will change!) albeit at a much slower pace.
With thanks to Grace practitioner, Nutritionist and Naturopath Kara Mia Vernon for contributing.
Photo by Marta Reis