by Tovah Kersner
In the last few weeks I’ve had the unfortunate experience of being in hospital. I know it sucks, but I had no choice, I was admitted into the emergency room, and I have to thank the hospital doctors who saved my life. My appendix burst and I was left with a mass of bacteria (abscess — a big one) that could very quickly have turned septic, poisoned me and that would have been that.
I had the benefit of the latest CT equipment, which I have to say seems to be the best diagnostic equipment the medical profession has today. I’m definitely not so keen on the stuff that has to be drunk, to bring the imaging to life, but at least it was painless. Quite unlike the painful and invasive procedures of ultra sound, draining, prodding, poking, injecting, infusing and starving literally for days. Except of course for a glucose drip, spiced with salts and minerals.
Antibiotics and narcotics are a lethal combination to my mind and body. I hate taking them and in my whole life have only had to do so a couple of times. It was the huge amounts of antibiotics that were travelling through my veins every six hours, that seemed to give me the most unpleasant and disturbing thoughts. I admit, I have a talent for imagining and visualizing things, and all I could think of was, all of my good intestinal flora being ripped away, along with the grungy bad stuff, that had to be got rid of, or it would kill me.
Anyway the fact remains that having had copious amounts of antibiotics swirling round me for a total of 21 days, I now have to proceed just as drastically with repairing any damage done to my not-so-long ago, very good functioning digestive system, which in turn keeps my immune system in good spirits!
I know from personal experience that if your gut is malfunctioning in some way, we can feel not only physically sick but emotionally and mentally too. A healthy gut produces even more of the neurotransmitter serotonin, than our brain does, so when there’s a shortage, it’s not surprising we feel grumpy and moody when our intestinal flora is depleted. Enzymes, vitamins and some hormones are produced in the gut and up to 2 lbs of healthy bacteria are stored there, contributing also to a healthy immune system.
Prebiotic v’s Probiotic
Since I came home I’ve been researching the probiotic v’s the prebiotic, which I have to admit, I really knew very little and understood even less, since I eat a good diet and I thought I boasted a good gut, so the topic has never arisen. It seems that both pro and prebiotic are quite essential for good quality intestinal flora.
The first thing that everyone say’s to eat is yogurt. Well that would be okay as long as it isn’t pasteurized. It would have to be raw organic yogurt to do my gut any good, by planting good bacteria back again. In today’s world of pasteurization, raw, organic milk is very hard to find, so what is the answer?
Probiotics: Fermented vegetables.
I love fermented veges, especially sauerkraut, so it is my goal this week to make a stock of some of my favourites. The process is really very simple. It means the veggies have to be prepared in a way that … well you got it, fermented. This is called lacto fermentation. There is beneficial bacteria on the surface of the cabbage, as there is on all fresh fruit and vegetables. Lactobacillus is one of the bacteria, the very same one that is found in yogurt and other cultured products. When this bacteria is submerged in salt water (brine) the sugars convert into lactic acid and acts as a natural preservative, keeping away harmful bacteria. It’s all very simple and clever really and has been a way of preserving food for centuries.
Fermented pickles, sauerkraut, carrots, beets/turnips, to name but a few probiotic have a powerful impact on brain health too, including depression and anxiety. There’s a tremendous connection between gut and brain health, so make sure your gut is producing that neurotransmitter serotonin, which is largely responsible for getting a good nights sleep and to keep you feeling happy and healthy.
There are of course, other probiotic foods which are very popular: Kombucha Tea, Kimchi, Tempeh, Miso, to name but a few. In our house we tend to keep away from fermented soybean products. You can read more about that here, especially the male readers: Why You Should Avoid Soy. http://wp.me/p2iKkm-ho
My first experimental batch of veggies were made very quickly. I could have fit two small heads of cabbages into these litre and half jars instead of one. I used organic vegetables and kosher salt. The test and taste recipe, which appealed to me best by adding enough salt to taste but not quite enough to make me gag. I’m hopeless with recipes so this one suited me just fine and is according to personal taste. I only made a brine for the spicy carrot ferment, otherwise I just used straight kosher salt on the cabbage ferments.
Photo: From left to right.
- Cabbage/carrot/onion Kraut
- Spicy carrots/onions
- Red Cabbage Kraut
- Hit this link that I used Real Food My Way for some simple easy recipes.
Prebiotic: Prebiotic are vegetables that produce inulin and oligofructose from the carbohydrates in the veg. We need about 8 grams of prebiotic fibre every day, i.e., at least two helpings of prebiotic veges to keep our gut healthy.
Prebiotic are the ‘fertilizers’ for the growth of the probiotics. If both pro- and prebiotics are eaten together our gut is getting a daily dose of the healthy bacteria Lactobacillus and the prebiotics fertilize the bacteria for increased colonies. If you can buy organic veggies then all the better, but better to eat non-organic than not to eat these vegetables at all.
BEWARE, especially if you want to eat out or entertain guests for dinner. Go easy on the prebiotics as they can produce a symphony of embarrassing noises.
Here are the top ten vegetables beneficial to humans for their prebiotics (Inulin and Oligofructose).
- Raw Chicory Root: 64% of prebiotic fibre.
- Jerusalem Artichoke: 32% prebiotic fibre. See Photo. Not related to green artichokes
- Raw Dandelion Greens: 24% prebiotic fibre.
- Raw Leek: 12% prebiotic fibre.
- Raw Onion: 8.6% prebiotic fibre.
- Cooked Onion: 5% prebiotic.
- Raw Asparagus: 5% prebiotic.
- Raw Wheat Bran: 5% prebiotic fibre.
- Wheat Flour baked: 4.8% prebiotic
- Raw Banana: 1% prebiotic.
I hope you try this very simple and easy way to a very healthy way of eating.