I’m not exactly sure how I’ve gotten into this, but lately I have gotten interested in fermented foods. Fermented food includes things like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kefer, and yogurt. Things get even weirder from there. Did you know it is possible to ferment tea?
You put this disgusting looking leathery thing into sweet tea, leave it for a week, and then drink. It’s called kombucha and claims to cure what ails you. I’ve tried it from the store — it has a sort of natural fizz. The thought of making it is a little frightening. (This didn’t stop me from trying it, though. Mine came out tasting fine at first, then quickly turned to vinegar. i.e. It needs work!)
Fermented foods that have not been canned, pasteurized, or cooked are filled with lots of good probiotics, enzymes, and healthy bacteria that help establish and maintain good gut flora & fauna. (OK, it’s just flora, but I like saying flora & fauna.) Gut flora gets messed up by the crappy food we eat, too much sugar, antibiotics, stress, and chemotherapy. This leads to an unhappy gut. I’ve heard claims that as much as 70% of our immune function resides in the gut. An unhappy gut can result in symptoms such as gas, constipation or diarrhea, food sensitivities, allergies, etc. Since I have watched my allergies go from something I barely noticed to thinking I’ve caught the worst cold of my life, doing something that promises to boost my immune function seemed like a good idea.
So far, I have experimented with making pickles, sauerkraut, and curtido, a South American sauerkraut with cabbage, onion, carrot and oregano that is quite tasty, and have taken to drinking kefer (it’s a sort of liquid yogurt), have some occasional miso, and made a beautiful pie out of Greek vanilla yogurt, peanut butter, chocolate sauce and Reese’s cups in a graham cracker crust. It’s tasty. Steve thinks of it as breakfast pie.
One of the interesting claims is that fermented foods and all those good probiotics help clear “brain fog.” I don’t know about you, but any time I even think things like “I’ll remember this later,” I just start laughing and reply with “Yea, right.” I do know that the gut is called the second brain because all the neurotransmitters present in the brain are also present in the gut (I wonder if that’s why I “think” I’m hungry so much???). So, if fermented foods make my gut happier, it seems reasonable that my brain might benefit as well.
At any rate, it’s been a fun little experiment!