A five-year study headed up by the Human Microbiome Project, which includes 200 researchers from 80 universities, found that the human body is made up of more microbes than human cells.
That’s right–we’re all just sacks of seething bacteria! Now before you freak out, remember that the word ‘bacteria’ has been given negative connotations by the hand sanitizer-fueled paranoia of the germ police. Bacteria come in good varieties too.
Healthy bacteria (probiotics) in our system help fight bad bacteria, aid in the absorption of nutrients and help in the manufacturing of hormones. Bacteria are responsible for processing our food, for extracting vitamins and producing anti-inflammatories.
In the past, we managed just fine with the probiotics from natural foods, but our current propensity for processed foods and the widespread use of antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers are causing a dearth in the amount of probiotics we have access to.
Why Not Buy Fermented Veggies at the Store?
A wide range of products claim to be high in probiotics, but few of them are. Many fermented foods on the market may have had high probiotic levels during the manufacturing process, but fluctuations in temperature from transportation, processing, or excessive refrigeration will have significantly reduced the active probiotic bacteria.
What’s the Natural Solution?
Create your own naturally fermented products. Traditionally prepared miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and fermented vegetables are a great source of probiotics–and fermenting your own veggies is quite easy. Here are some basic instructions on DIY sauerkraut to get you started. (You can use this recipe as a jumping off point for other veggies!)
Sauerkraut Recipe by Greenmoxie
- 1 medium green cabbage
- 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
- Cut your cabbage into thin ribbons and place in a large bowl. Add the salt and massage the salt into the cabbage for about ten minutes. The cabbage should be limp at this point. Now squeeze the cabbage into your sauerkraut jars, pushing it down with your fingers to compact it.
- Take a smaller jar and fill it with something heavy. I use my mini jam jars filled with jam, but you can add pebbles or sand or beans. Cover the mouth of the jar with a tea towel (or coffee filter) and secure with a rubber band. Press down on the jam jar every time you walk past the cabbage.
- It should be submerged in liquid in about 24 hours. If not, add about a teaspoon of salt and then to up with water.
- Leave the cabbage for 3 days – checking to make sure it is all submerged. After the third day, start tasting it every day until it reaches your ideal fermentation. This could take up to ten days. When it’s just right, remove the tea towel, put the lid on and refrigerate. Will last up to two months.
You can use this method to make carrot sticks too. Just julienne carrots and pop them in the brine, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier gut!
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