My herbal and healing journey also lead me to the fascinating world of fermented foods and drinks. Over the years, I discovered the importance of addressing diet and microbiome healing along with integrating herbal support. When we do this the healing experience can become more exponential and profound. Among the healing and nutrition communities, there are experts emphasizing the importance of embracing 4 different kingdoms to support our health: plants, animals, bacteria, mushrooms/fungi. We as humans have relied on all 4 kingdoms for evolution and survival. To have thriving health in our modern world and continue our survival, we need to go back to our traditional roots and integrate these vital foods into our life again. Every traditional culture incorporated fermented foods in their diet. It has been a primary source of food preservation and allowed humans to sustain themselves during winter months and times when food was scarce.
I am personally fascinated by the science behind fermented foods and drinks and using them to heal the body. More and more scientific studies and research support that our health and vitality are directly influenced by the health of our microbiome. When the beneficial bacteria and yeast in our body are in balance, healthy and happy, we are also in balance, healthy and happy. Fermented foods and herbal therapies complement and support each other for healing and I always encourage folks who are using herbs for healing to also use herbs and ferments to support the microbiome environment.
Note: All images and content are the rights of Candice Brunlinger. Please contact for permission to use images or recipes in other publications or educational resources. Some of the recipes are from or influenced by Summer Bock and her Certified Fermentationist Program or various fermenting cookbooks and Candice’s herbal and culinary background.
What benefits do I and my family experience from fermented foods?
When I consistently eat fermented foods, I have more energy levels overall which are sustained throughout the day. I feel more vital and resilient against my environment and have a stronger immune response, getting sick less frequently and for less duration with less symptoms when I do. I also have 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 see any shifts 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.
My 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 goat milk (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 when I started to see a reduction in his symptoms and fewer reactions when he eats.
How I incorporate fermented foods into my life:
I eat a small amount of kimchi or an herbal based kraut 1-2 times a day and find as many ways of incorporating other fermented veggies, condiments, dressings, spiced pastes, yogurt and kefir into our meals. I also drink 4-8 ounces of a fermented beverage like kombucha, kefir, kvass or herbal fermented soda on most days; however, I take a break from sugar-fed fermented drinks when I am doing cleanses or detoxing. I am sometimes able to keep a sourdough starter going and will bake bread from scratch, but I have a few local artisan bakeries who sell delicious fresh sourdough and gluten free breads. I tend to save myself time by supporting my local bakers. I enjoy sprouting and even fermenting other grains for our meals. 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.