My herbal and healing journey has also lead me to the fascinating world of fermented foods and drinks. You can feel amazing and vibrant again by bringing balance to your microbiome, the beneficial organisms we can not live without and enhance our vitailty and health.
Check out some of my favorite recipes and read my ferment log below to learn a quick overview about fermented foods and how they have supported me on my healing journey.
Click on the image or text below to see the detailed log for each ferment with the recipe and additional pictures of the step by step process.
What is Fermentation?
Fermentation is the process of breaking down substances in an anaerobic environment, without oxygen. In the context of fermented foods, it is the process of creating an environment for beneficial microbes to thrive and pre-digest food or liquids. That initiates a cycle where the pH of the food changes to create an even more ideal environment for beneficial microbes to thrive while preventing harmful ones. This also helps to preserve perishable foods for storage, enhances the enzyme activity of our food and helps nutrients to be more active, easily digestible and bioavailable.
How have you incorporated fermented foods into your life?
I eat a small amount of kimchi 1-2 times a day and find as many ways of incorporating other fermented veggies, condiments, spiced pastes, yogurt and kefir into our meals. I also drink 4-8 ounces of a fermented beverage like kombucha, kefir, or herbal fermented soda throughout the day, usually with or after meals. I have been making our bread recipes using a sourdough starter or by fermenting other grains before using them. We have all noticed our digestive and food sensitivities are reducing as we have been finding more creative ways of consistently eating or drinking beneficial microbes.
My 4-year old son has been reacting to all his food since he first started eating solid food and his face turns a pink, red or purplish color every time he eats. It does not seem to matter what food it is but having him on a clean, organic whole food diet helps to reduce the severity of the reactions. He also gets puffy eyes, edema in his face, distended belly and he occasionally complains of his tummy hurting after meals. After he turned 4, he started having more severe reactions resulting in us having Benadryl and an epi pen on hand for emergency situations. It does not seem to matter what I eliminate, and I have had him on probiotics, yogurt, kefir and raw dairy (when I could) since he was 6 months old; however, it was not until I started to make our own fermented foods and drinks at home that I have started to see a reduction in his symptoms and fewer reactions when he eats.
What is the driving factor?
Our health, especially for my son. Feeling “normal” or “functional” in day to day life.
What are the challenges you currently face when you start a new ferment?
Making sure I can provide the ideal environment for the fermenting process to thrive in or have the time to commit to the ferment and be around to check and harvest it when needed.
What benefits do you experience from fermented foods?
I always notice I have increased resilience when I consistently incorporate fermented foods into my diet and have a stronger immune response, getting sick less frequently and for less duration with less symptoms when I do. I also noticed increased energy levels, enhanced mental clarity and focus, less digestive discomfort after meals and less cravings for unhealthy foods and sugar. After being diagnosed with Hashimotos after the birth of my son, I gained a bunch of weight, felt very sick and had extreme imbalances in my hormones and cycle. I tried elimination diets but did not get any results until I incorporated fermented veggies, bone broth and vitamin D supplements consistently into my diet which helped with balancing my hormones, healing my leaky gut and aiding with mineral deficiency.
Why do you not recommend fermented foods to clients, co-workers, family and friends?
I would not recommend fermented foods for those with SIBO, Candida overgrowth, leaky gut or with elevated histamine response until they find balance using dietary and lifestyle changes to support their gut healing.
In some cases, I might recommend starting very slow with lacto-fermented veggies to see if the beneficial bacteria can initiate the healing process by creating an environment for beneficial microbes to thrive and help combat the overgrowth of harmful microbes. I would ask them to monitor how they feel and use fermented vegetables which are most beneficial for them and do not contribute to further imbalance (i.e. avoid Fodmaps, cruciferous veggies, etc. when needed).
If fermented foods are contributing to inflammation and gut imbalance, I would encourage family, friends and clients to temporarily avoid fermented foods and do an elimination diet with a strong focus on eating a plant rich and alkaline based diet for at least 3 weeks before considering incorporating fermented foods gradually into the diet.