Health moderation: Conferred immunity with fermented foods

Tonica, a Canadian brand of Kombucha star­ted in Toronto
In the winter sea­son, I see a lot of people in my office either with a cold or flu try­ing to get rid of their ill­ness or ask­ing for the prop­er guid­ance for vitamins/​herbs/​foods that will pre­vent colds and flu. Today’s dis­cus­sion will focus on the pre­ven­tion aspects, as there are some easy but very import­ant things you can do involving food to improve your immune system.

I’m sure most of you know about pro­bi­ot­ics, and the import­ance of good bac­teria in our health. For those of you who don’t know, there are little bugs (bac­teria) that live hap­pily in our digest­ive tracts. They make vit­am­ins, they improve the move­ment of the bowel, but more import­antly have a role in how are body responds to the many invad­ing vir­uses, bac­teria, para­sites, fungi…and the list goes on…on a daily basis. When we have a good strong pop­u­la­tion of our own bac­teria, we absorb nutri­ents more read­ily, make our own vit­am­ins, avoid colds and flu, and our diges­tion moves along the way it should. Irritable bowel, food aller­gies, Crohn’s and colit­is all improve in the face of good bacteria.

Rather than just tak­ing bac­teria in the form of a pill or pro­bi­ot­ic, there are many ways that our bod­ies can make its own bac­teria. Fermented foods are foods that nat­ur­ally pro­mote the growth of good anaer­obic bac­teria in our digest­ive tracts when we eat them, and cre­ate a medi­um for these bac­teria to con­tin­ue to grow. A friend and avid and suc­cess­ful daily fer­menter Bettina Goodwin of the Soul Connection inspired me to write about fer­men­ted foods. I’m a new­er fer­menter; let me know if I’ve left any­thing out Bettina!

What are foods that are considered fermented?

  1. Soy and soy­bean products like natto
  2. Kombucha and Pu-erh teas
  3. Sauerkraut
  4. Yogurt, cheeses, whey
  5. Some meats like sausages
  6. Alcohols (like meads)

Many fer­men­ted foods involve dairy products, such as the lacto­ba­cil­lus that we find in yogurt or whey that con­fer good bac­teria. However, many of you (includ­ing myself) can­not digest dairy products. So how can we get the bene­fits of fer­ment­a­tion on food without the aggre­v­a­tion of foods that upset our diges­tion already? We can make our own fer­men­ted foods right at home.

Nutritionist Tom Malterre, one of the co-authors of one of my favour­ite go-to cook­books for healthy eat­ing and healthy liv­ing called The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, iden­ti­fies an incred­ibly easy way to make your own fer­men­ted foods from veget­ables in your own veget­able bas­ket and your own fridge. It can be done eas­ily with a little bit of sea salt, a few mason jars and patience! You can truly be sure of the qual­ity of the food you are eat­ing as well as hav­ing a little fun for your­self. Check out Tom’s great do-it-your­self video and blog post on his simple recipe guidelines for Lacto-Fermented Veggies without Whey.

My little exper­i­ment is in my cup­board right now and I’m excited to see how it turns out in a week to two weeks’ time. Not only cost effect­ive, but your own fer­men­ted veget­ables will enhance your immunity, improve your over­all nutri­tion, and they are super tasty.

If this is too daunt­ing for you, then start with per­haps drink­ing Kombucha tea or Pu-erh tea. Amazing anti­ox­id­ant bene­fits, tasty, and enhance the growth of your bac­teria until you are brave enough to do your own experiment!

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