Homesteading with Hyacynth: The Epic Battle in Your Gut

Welcome to Homesteading with Hyacynth!

Homesteading with Hyacynth is a monthly look at ways to lead a healthy, greener, more sustainable life. My intent with Homesteading with Hyacynth is to offer genuine, practical experiences and humorous and helpful tips. Of course I am not a medical professional so these are my tips and what worked for me.

 

There’s something akin to Star Wars going on inside your body right now.

beginner's guide to a probiotic-rich diet

Our bodies are home to these epic battles of good versus bad — and I’m not just talking about the battle for our minds.

Our bodies are made up of 100 trillion microbes {that’s ten times the number of cells we have in our bodies!}, and those microbes are beneficial, detrimental or neutral.

Ideally, the microbes that are beneficial and neutral win the light saber sparring {ideal ratios are 85 percent beneficial to 15 percent “bad”} and in turn we are rewarded with many health benefits.

Many of us, though, are lacking in beneficial microbes, and we feel the effects of it!

Recent studies — both in real life and in controlled settings — have demonstrated that beneficial gut flora is farther reaching than digestive health alone. The overpowering presence of beneficial microbes has been shown to improve the immune system and alleviate asthma, allergies, eczema, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome.

Which is awesome! {awesoooomme! Awwwsommmme! for those of you who know and love the Lego version of Darth Mal.}

What’s throwing off our ratios? Well, it’s quite detailed, and if you’re interested, you should start poking around on these here internets. But for the sake of space and time, I’ll just tell you that when great grandma was alive there were a lot less assaults on our beneficial microbes.

So what’s a gal to do about this war going on inside her? Pick up a light saber probiotics, and start sparring!

There are a couple of different routes you can take to start adding beneficial microbes to your body.
-Take a high quality probiotic.
-Eat lots of fresh, raw foods
-Eat straight from your garden
-Get crazy with the Fermented Ks of the light side — kefir, kraut, kombucha

beginner's guide to a probiotic-rich diet

We’re going to spend our time talking about the Light Side of the microbe force because the first three routes mentioned are relatively straight forward and self explanatory. But, first, a working definition: fermented foods and drinks are fresh foods or beverages that have been left in a warm environment with the intent of culturing the beneficial microbes and/or preserving fresh food. The beneficial microbes eat the sugar present in the food or drink and in turn create more probiotics while enhancing vitamins, enzymes and minerals.

Great grandma likely had ferments — especially milk kefir and sauer kraut — going in her kitchen often simply because fermenting is a great way to preserve the harvest! No wonder she hardly got sick — her gut flora was amazing, likely because the three Fermented Ks of the light side are powerhouses of beneficial microbes — these cultures often boast more than 100 strains of beneficial bacteria, viruses and funguses and more than 1 billion counts of specific strains, which makes even the most powerful probiotic pill look wimpy.

Plus, when we eat cultured food and drink cultured drink, the microbes actually are able to travel through our bodies and survive our stomach acid — and the jury is still out on whether or not that’s true about probiotic pills.

Lastly, these cultured foods and drinks are easily loved because they are relatively easy to make in your own home, are much more cost efficient than pills and the fermentation process actually helps increase the nutrient availability and density of the foods and drinks that are fermented — all things your grandma would likely deem as good stuff!

Seriously. Fermented foods and drink are a great way to do internal battle! So let’s look at the different types of ferments, explore what they are and see which would be a best choice for you and your family!

Sauer Kraut and Cultured Veggies
While sauer kraut is made of only cabbage and a little bit of sea salt, cultured veggies can be made out of any veggie and even veggie/fruit combination you’d like!
Right now, I have a great Flu Prevention ferment filled with apples, onions, jicama, spinach, cabbage and oranges culturing on my counter alongside a batch of sauer kraut. Kraut is typically tangy, tart and crunchy, while other veggie cultures can run the gamut of taste and consistency. We’ve had cultured veggies that taste like a flavorful salsa as well as cultured veggies that are more reminiscent of a cole slaw.

Why You’d Love It:

  • High in vitamins, minerals and enzymes
  • Vast array of flavors and textures
  • Cultured food carries the microbes into your intestines, and those microbes then go to work cleaning up the harder to reach areas of your intestines where build up of food is likely to have accumulated
  • Cultured veggies and kraut are extremely healing for the gut
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Curbs sugar cravings

Challenges:

  • most time consuming of the ferments to prepare and culture
  • takes time and practice to learn the art of culturing veggies
  • tangy, unique flavors are hallmarks of cultured foods
  • using a starter culture packet ensures consistent results; while not expensive, they packets do need to be repurchased after a few ferments.
  • a clean environment, utensils and preparation space is essential

Want to Make It? Cultured Veggies Instructions

Kombucha
Brewed with the help of a S.C.O.B.Y. amid black or green tea and sugar, Kombucha is an effervescent drink that can be double fermented with any flavor juice, turning it into a soda-esque drink. While cultured veggies can culture alone or with the aid of a starter culture packet, the Kombucha S.C.O.B.Y {short for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast} is quite necessary for the fermentation of this bubbly drink.

Why You’d Love It:

  • Very high in B vitamins
  • High in glucuronic acid, which is a compound used by the liver for detoxication
  • if brewed well and double fermented, it tastes much like a fruit-flavored soda drink
  • often contains one billion counts of specific bacteria per serving
  • easy to brew
  • S.C.O.B.Y grows an additional S.C.O.B.Y each brew; share with friends

Challenges:

  • The S.C.O.B.Y takes some getting used to as it’s sorta slimy and weird looking
  • a clean environment, utensils and preparation space is essential
  • Tea can be over brewed and taste vinegary
  • normally requires a second round fermentation with a juice to achieve soda-like qualities

Want to Make It? Kombucha instructions 

Water Kefir
This brew is seriously easy and seriously delicious! Water kefir is made from submerging water kefir grains {crystal-like symbiotic culture bacteria and yeast} inside fresh, mineral-rich water coupled with the right proportion of mineral-rich whole-cane sugar. Like kombucha, it can be bottled and double fermented with fruit juice to obtain an effervescent, soda-like taste and consistency.

Why You’d Love It:

  • high in B vitamins and enzymes
  • if brewed well and double fermented, it tastes much like a fruit-flavored soda drink
  • often contains one billion counts of specific bacteria per serving
  • easy to brew
  • brews quickly
  • easiest learning curve
  • grains multiply rapidly during each brew; share with friends

Challenges:

  • achieving enough carbonation to make it bubbly like soda

a clean environment, utensils and preparation space is essential

Want to Make It: Water Kefir Instruction

Tips:

  • Cultures like consistent, warm temperatures. I find cultures do best between 70-78 degrees. We are purchasing are warming mat for the cooler months.
  • Ferment your cultures in quality half gallon mason jars; consider using a Perfect Pickler topper http://ecommerce.hacres.com/perfect-pickler to ensure your culture remains unadulterated
  • or consider investing in a fermentation crock
  • Use starter cultures to help ensure the culturing of healthy bacteria

Seeing as how we have more bacteria cells in our body than actual human cells, it’s likely beneficial to consume these powerful foods and drinks.

May the {probiotic} force be with you.

Dance academy of Libertyville
About Hyacynth 33 Articles
Hyacynth Worth is wife to John and mother to two boys and two girls. She writes about motherhood, healthy living and faith at Undercover Mother. She is Little Lake County's managing editor and the author of Homesteading with Hyacynth. She promises to be candid, amusing and only slightly neurotic. Most of the time.

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