Congratulations on getting this far! But, before we start, let’s think about our modern life style. We live quite a stressful life, we eat harmful foods such as refined carbohydrates, harmful fats, sugar and processed food. Our world is full of pesticides, anti-bacterial sprays, and pollution. We are prescribed anti-biotics when we are unwell. This can all have an adverse effect on our gut flora. It’s quite depressing, but the good side is we can counteract some this by consuming fermented food!
Fermented foods will repopulate the gut with “good” bacteria. The “good guys” can and do smother the “bad” bacteria that has been able to manifest itself. They can rid the body of toxin and pathogens which may have taken up residence in your body.
Where to start
Kefir is a good starting point, it is quick to make and doesn’t require a lot of equipment. Start with perhaps a ¼ of a cup of kefir each day and see how you feel. If you have no adverse effects the next day try a little more. Once you are happy with kefir in your diet then introduce fermented vegetables like sauerkraut. Again start with ¼ of cup each day and build it up in subsequent days. Finally introduce kombucha using the same strategy.
The fermented foods (or probiotic foods) are quite strong and when first starting it is advisable to take it slowly, and over a period of time build the gut flora. Each person will be different, as everyone has a unique body, and your reaction, if any, to fermented foods will be different to the next persons.
If at any time you feel they maybe upsetting you, leave them off for a few days and try again, but it is well worth persevering. Not everyone has any side effects but it is worth being aware. The reason symptoms may occur is during this initial stage harmful bacterial and yeast die and can produce toxins and make us feel unwell. Drinking plenty of water will help.
Here are some of the possible side effects, and the severity will depend on the health of your gut. The vast majority of people will experience mild symptoms or none at all.
Diarrhoea/loose stool/discoloured stool
Gas or bloating
Sinus stuffiness or drainage
Please don’t be put off by this, if there are any side effects they are only mild and temporary. In my case I did experience discoloured stool and increased urination for a couple of days. But any symptoms you may have are a sign the “good” guys are working! Once over that phase you will gradually start to feel great! This is not a quick fix and needs to be worked at slowly. Be kind to yourself and be patient it will be worth it in the end!
Once on this path you will probably find you loose your cravings for unhealthy food and seek a better diet. Ideally you should strive to consume small amounts of kefir, kombucha and fermented vegetables each day. The quantities needed are quite small to optimise health. I usually have kefir with my breakfast cereal, a small glass of kombucha, and a couple of tablespoons fermented vegetables with my lunch – job done! Of course, if you want to consume more, that fine too. Each person is different, and what is good will be differnent for another.
The reason for consuming the 3 different types of fermented foods on a daily basis (Kefir, kombucha and fermented vegetables) is that each type of fermentation produces different strains of bacteria and yeast. The wider the spectrum of “good” guys the better, and this will optimise the beneficial effects and balance the gut.
Once you are in the swing of this new regime it is easy and fun! Take the plunge and have a go.
Should you have complex medical issues, it would be wise to consult a health professional before embarking.
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