Let’s talk about the micro biome.
The micro biome is the name for the millions of microorganisms that are living within you. These organisms are found on your skin, in your mucus membranes, inside your mouth, and the majority of them are in your gut. They outnumber human cells 10:1, which means they are very important in our overall health. They are responsible for things such as breaking down carbs, synthesizing vitamins, and regulating the immune system.
When they get out of proportion, they can cause serious health problems, including leaky gut, autoimmune diseases, Candida overgrowth, obesity, cancer, gut dysbiosis, and more.
Just a few of the things that can have a negative effect on the micro biome include: antibiotics, stress, sugar, birth control pills, and parasites.
The micro biome is pretty essential to health, and the best way to keep it happy is by regularly reinoculating the gut with beneficial strains of bacteria and yeast in the form of probiotics. Although you can take probiotic capsules, I prefer to get my probiotics through fermented foods, because:
- I don’t like taking pills,
- I love to eat,
- It’s cheaper, and
- You get a better variety of organisms as the strains vary with each batch.
Good sources of probiotics include:
- Raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut (if it’s being sold on the un-refrigerated shelf of a grocery store it has been pasteurized (heated) which means those beneficial organisms are no longer living)
- Wild or lactofermented vegetables, fruits, and condiments
- Kefir, kombucha, beet and other vegetable kvasses
It is recommended that you consume probiotics everyday, preferably a small amount (1 Tbsp) several times throughout the day. (Some people react negatively to probiotics, so start small and see how you do). I like to throw fermented veggies on my salads, serve sauerkraut alongside stir-fry and brats, and add kombucha, kvass, or yogurt to my smoothies.
Making your own lactofermented veggies is as easy as chopping, brining, and waiting!
- Chop vegetables into small, even sized pieces and place into mason jar (you can get fancy equipment for fermenting but it is not necessary at all).
- Mix a solution of 1-3 TBSP real sea salt to every cup of filtered water. Alternatively, you can use whey leftover from your homemade yogurt. Read about the differences here.
- Pour brine over vegetables, leaving 1 inch of space at top of jar. Make sure all veggies are submerged (You may need to use something heavy to weight them down). Note: Finely cut cabbage will create it’s own brine–it just involves a little bit of massaging with the salt.
- Put lid on, and store somewhere away from sunlight.
- “Burp” the jars every day by opening the lid and then quickly resealing. This will let out some of the gas and help to avoid explosions.
- Taste after a few days. Veggies will get sourer the longer they ferment. Once they have reached your desired taste, move to fridge or cold storage, where they will keep for 3-6 months.
Have you ever tried fermenting foods? Do you take a daily probiotic?
Important disclaimer: I have no medical training. Just lots of passion for real food! Please consult your own doctor and do your own research in support of my suggestions. It’s an important part of taking control of your health!