Pete Evans

A cultured life

A cultured life

In my quest to improve my health and that of my family, I came across a fascinating connection that linked many traditional societies: cultured foods. From kimchi in Korea to sauerkraut in Germany, kvass in Russia and kefir in Bulgaria, as well as kombucha, cultured butter and many more, I was soon to learn the myriad benefits of consuming these foods that teem with beneficial organisms.

In my quest to improve my health and that of my family, I came across a fascinating connection that linked many traditional societies: cultured foods. From kimchi in Korea to […]

Fermenting foods was traditionally the means of preserving food for long periods when people ate seasonally and planned ahead for the winter by culturing some of the bounty of each harvest. We’ve become oblivious of nature’s cycles in having the ability to buy whatever we desire when we desire it, thanks to refrigeration, pasteurisation and modern chemical preservatives.

Research is now catching up to what so many cultures have known for centuries and is recognising the importance of the gut microbiome. When our inner ecology is out of balance, numerous body systems are affected. A proliferation of good gut bacteria has been found to be a key player in developing strong immunity and improved digestion, as well as helping our ability to detoxify. Cultured foods can also act as natural chelators of toxins. Due to the gut–brain connection, increased wellbeing of emotional and neurological systems, among others, is often experienced.

Fermenting foods was traditionally the means of preserving food for long periods when people ate seasonally and planned ahead for the winter by culturing some of the bounty of each harvest.

Fermenting an allergy cure

Fermenting an allergy cure

Over the past 10 years there has been a massive increase in food intolerances, allergies and mood and behavioural disorders in children. These are being attributed by some to an imbalance of gut flora where pathogenic bacteria dominate.

Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, a neurologist, nutritionist and creator of the GAPS program (Gut and Psychology and Gut and Physiology Syndrome), is a pioneer in this field. Cultured foods are instrumental in Dr Campbell-McBride’s healing protocol to help restore the healthy gut flora of children with autism (including her own son), ADHD, food allergies and intolerances and thus alleviate many of their symptoms.

Our inner ecosystems function optimally when a diverse range of microbes is present. This is mirrored in our soils, which can produce healthy organic foods through a strong and stable ecosystem. Through food, those benefits are then transferred to us — and magnified after culturing.

Cultured foods are instrumental in Dr Campbell-McBride’s healing protocol to help restore the healthy gut flora of children with autism, ADHD, food allergies and intolerances and thus alleviate many of their symptoms

Fantastic fermentation

Fantastic fermentation

Fermentation preserves nutrients, vitamins and enzymes in foods. In fact, it increases vitamins and can also create new vitamins such as B vitamins and vitamin K, which are not naturally found in the original food, as well as enzymes and organic acids. Enzymes are important in helping us to utilise the nutrients in our food. As we age, our supply of enzymes decreases, which can lead to digestive discomfort. A tablespoon or two of properly cultured vegetables is an easy way to assist digestion by creating enough stomach acid needed to break down the meal we are consuming.

Cultured vegetables are also delicious — once your tastebuds acclimatise to the initial sourness — and can add another dimension to your meals. The lactobacilli and lactic acids in the cultured vegetables make nutrients more bioavailable to the body from the food eaten with them. Did you know sauerkraut contains 100 times more vitamin C than cabbage in its raw form?

The lactobacilli are also able to crowd out any pathogens in the gut by flooding the intestines with beneficial bacteria and creating an acid environment to inhibit those harmful bacteria. Many people report that when they consume morsels of probiotic goodness their sweet cravings, bloating and constipation are reduced.

Part of my “food as medicine” awakening has been the discovery of the importance of eating cultured foods daily. Over the past three years I have embraced this millennia-old tradition and have been creating my own cultured foods for my family and friends to enjoy. By consuming them regularly as a condiment, I have seen firsthand the benefits of incorporating them daily in my diet.

A tablespoon or two of properly cultured vegetables is an easy way to assist digestion by creating enough stomach acid to break down the meal we are consuming.

Doing it well

Doing it well

When I speak to people, something I hear quite often is that because the process of fermenting foods is so foreign to them they are reluctant to give it a go, as it seems too overwhelming. They’re also concerned that a failed attempt might end up poisoning their family. So here are some tips.

Use an anaerobic jar system that seals tightly to ensure the contents are kept isolated from the external environment. If outside air contacts the contents of the jar, airborne bacteria and yeasts can become established in the food, allowing mould growth (both benign and potentially poisonous) throughout the food.

Because the fermenting process generates gases that cause a buildup of pressure in the jar, you need to be able to release gases at the same time as preventing the contents of the jar leaking.

A glass vessel is a good idea as fermented foods are acidic and toxins can leach into the ferment if other materials are used. A run through a hot dishwasher cycle is usually enough to clean them thoroughly.

I encourage you to take up the challenge of making your own cultured foods and reap all the benefits, as the gut really is everything when it comes to long-term good health. Once you’ve made your first batch, you’ll wonder what was holding you back from enjoying this probiotic deliciousness. My dream is to see Australian families everywhere adding some cultured foods into their diet on a daily basis. Culture for life with love and laughter — and follow that tang!

 

Cook with love and laughter,

Pete

By Pete Evans

You Might Also Like

Back to Blog Home

Unlock the secrets to a happier, healthier life

Our experts are here to share with you some enlightening thoughts and viewpoints to help you on your own personal journey to become the best version of you. Discover more with our 10 Week Activation Program.

We would love you to join the Tribe!

Join Our 10wk Program