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Cultured Vegetables and Gut Health

Posted in: Conditions, Nutrition, Recipes
By Dr. Pantea Etminan, NHD
Apr 16, 2012 - 11:57:54 AM

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The human gut and about 30 feet of intestinal tract contain 70-90 percent of our immunity. There are billions of live friendly bacteria in there that help support our health and wellbeing. These bacteria are highly important to our wellbeing and must be kept alive to do their job. The friendly bacteria's are involved with many different functions within the system, the intestinal, and gut lining. We need them and without them our health can be compromised.

How Can We Support Friendly Bacteria

Supporting friendly bacteria in the system will support the immunity and lot more. Therefore, it would only make sense to help keep them alive and doing their job, right? It can be simple yet many hinder lives of these friendly bacteria in their gut. How? They are efficient at what they do, but can be harmed by foods that are highly acidic, cooked and processed. They do try their best to keep alive, but multiple amounts and times of dead food being dumped--makes it hard for them to keep up with the challenge, thus they get destroyed. Beside food, medication and antibiotics are quiet hazardous to these friendly bacteria's. They will destroyed them, leaving the gut vulnerable, thus lowered immunity. That is when one starts to get ill more often--more colds, more flu, more stomach issues, and so on.

You can help support these friendly bacteria in your gut by eating foods that are alive and offer vital nutrition.

  • Whole fresh vegetables
  • Whole fresh fruits
  • Crucified vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radish)
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • spices, such as turmeric and ginger
  • Fermented vegetables (such as kimchi, sauerkraut--which is basically fermented cabbage)
  • Red pepper, such as cayenne
  • Live fresh plain yogurt
  • Pickled veggies
  • Raw apple cider vinegar
  • Kombucha (cultured drink)
  • Cultured foods

Fermented and cultured foods contain live bacteria's that are gut friendly and good for your health. In ancient cultures, such as China, Japan and the Middle east--it has been common practice to consume such fermented and cultured foods daily. It is said to enhance health and prolong life. Many elderly in such cultures swear by the powers of these types of foods. It is not only helpful for gut flora but it assists with digestion and assimilation of food, which is one of the most important factors correlated with our wellbeing. Many individuals may  eat nutritious foods and take supplements, but if the gut is not in good health, it will not be able to digest, assimulate and absorb them, thus leaving the body thirsty for nutrients.

Ideas of Incorporating Cultured Foods in Your Diet

It is not difficult at all to incorporate cultured foods in your diet plan-- you may need to adjust to it, that is all. Give it a try--perhaps different ones and ideas. With time, you will learn to adjust and love them, because they will make you feel great and energetic.
Have some plain yogurt with your meal or after your meal. Start eating some raw veggies or cook some and place a table spoon of raw apple cider vinegar with some other salt free spices on them. Salt is another factor that ruins the friendly gut bacteria. Some salt in certain food is all right, but the problem with today's American diet is that we are flooding our system with too much sodium that is considered toxic. This not only could ruin the friendly bacteria in your gut but give rise to many other health issues as well. So, give yourself a challenge for a month and go salt free. It is not that hard, just need adjusting to it. Whole fresh natural foods contain natural sodium anyway. After your palate is cleansed you will be able to taste it much better.

If you do want to use some salt, then go for moderate amount of Himalayan salt or sea salt. Those are better choices of salt, as they contain minerals that help to balance the sodium. But please do keep in mind that they are still salt--so go as little as possible and only in cooked foods that you would need to add salt to. Spices give food great zing and taste-- could easily take a place of sodium. Become more herb and spice friendly, which would be good for your gut too.

Juicing fresh whole vegetables will provide amazing nutrients plus help with bacteria in the gut. You could add a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar to the juice too. Kombucha is a drink that contains live bacteria that could be seen in the clear bottles. Now days, you could find so many different flavors (read the label and make sure that it does not have any added processed sugars or preservatives in it). They are naturally fermented and have fizziness to it when you open it--so don't shake it before hand, all the stuff will come up once you open the bottle. Try having it on empty stomach.

Add onions and garlic to your foods. Spices, such turmeric and ginger are very helpful too. Alongside of your meal, have some fermented cultured cabbage, which are called, usually, kimchi (spicy kind used in Asian cultures) or sauerkraut. Do keep in mind that they can be salty--so either look for less salty ones or give them a good rinse before consuming. You could also make your own batch that would contain fresh ingredients that you know of without salt.

Making Cultured Cabbage

It is simple, just contains few step. You could do almost any vegetable really, but cabbage is a good choice. You could choose to add some pepper (cayenne or cut peppers or even black pepper corns) with celery seed and juice. Celery seed and juice are rich in potassium and natural salt which will lend salty taste and have preservation properties to keep away the pathogenic bacteria.

Here are the steps:

  1. Prepare clean large Jar (must be sanitize and without anything in it).
  2. Clean and cut/shred your vegetable.
  3. Juice celery (enough for, at least half the jar or more if you want more of it).
  4. You could mix some cayenne pepper or other kind of pepper of your choice with the juice.
  5. Place the veggies in the clean jar with celery juice mix and Vinegar (red or raw apple cider recommended). Vinegar is optional. You could make it without it as well. Make sure that the jar is filled with liquid to the very top to eliminate any air. Close the top of the jar and place in room temperature that is between 60-78 degrees. It should not go much higher than that, because it will interfere with the bacteria and microbe formation. Keep in such environment up to 48 hours--depending on your discretion of how the bacteria is coming along. Then place in refrigerator, where the fermentation process will be slowed down and maintained.
  6. It could keep in the fridge for few weeks.
  7. Keep in mind--must always use clean utensil to take out fermented product from the jar--as eating out of the jar could contaminate it with other bacteria's with could make it go bad.

Of course, making your own would be ideal--but if you don't have the time to place simple effort forward, then there are prepared options in your specialty stores. Just make sure to read the label of what it contains. There should really be nothing else in there other than the obvious--the vegetable, salt (yes, most commercial brands do use salt for preservation purposes), and water. Make sure to rinse the amount that you want ahead of time--as they can be very salty. Enjoy it along with your meal or mix in with your salad or meal--but do not cook with it, as it will destroy the friendly bacteria.

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