fermentation

How to Reduce Anxiety with Fermented Foods

How to Reduce Anxiety with Fermented Foods

Can fermented foods make you a happier person? Can they even up your social game? It may seem farfetched but, apparently, it’s not.

When I’m not eating a clean diet, including fermented foods, and taking a good probiotic, I start to feel more stressed and overwhelmed. In the past, I didn’t know how to reduce anxiety so I’d wake up at 3 am worrying about everything! Of course, the last thing I’d want to do after a poor night’s sleep is socialize and make new friends.

The Anxiety-Gut Connection

Stress can disrupt the balance of your gut flora, which then affects hormones, such as cortisol. Waking up in the middle of the night is a byproduct. These types of symptoms are enhanced if you drink wine to calm your nerves.

The gut flora/microbiota also regulates hormone balance. If you suffer from PMS and PMS-related anxiety, it’s likely due to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.

The Role of Fermented Foods

In a recent study of young adults, an association was found between fermented foods and a reduction in social anxiety. Researchers found that among students who were prone to being anxious and hyper, those who ate fermented foods were less anxious overall.

Another study from McMaster University showed that mice treated with antibiotics became more antisocial. Once their good bacteria levels returned, their behavior returned to normal. Who knew it could be that simple?

Getting Started

If you’re wondering how to reduce anxiety in your life, it might be worth increasing your daily intake of beneficial bugs by adding sauerkraut, kimchi and lots of greens to your diet. Making them is super simple, and I share a bunch of recipes on my site for beginners and adventure seekers alike.

While I prefer homemade ferments, you can find them at the grocery store. Just be sure to look for them in the refrigerated section. Fermented foods found on a shelf have been pasteurized, which means the beneficial bacteria and enzymes are dead.

Free Consultation

If you have any questions about how to reduce anxiety with fermented foods, or how to improve the health of your gut, email me to book a free consultation. I would love to hear from you and get you started on your healing journey.

What Is Water Kefir? How to Make It and Why Drink It

Have you ever seen kefir in the refrigerated section of your grocery store—or better yet, given it a taste? Kefir is a sour, yogurt-like drink that contains a healthy dose of probiotics. Kefir grains, which look a bit like cottage cheese, are actually colonies of bacteria and yeast that quickly ferment milk.

If you can’t tolerate dairy, however, there’s still a way to get these beneficial bacteria into your system. The answer is water kefir.

How to Make Water Kefir

Water kefir recipes vary, but the principle is the same: place water kefir grains in a jar of sugar water or juice, cover with a lid, and let sit in a warm room for a day or two. When the water or juice becomes cloudy and less sweet, you’ll know it’s time to strain out the grains and enjoy the finished kefir (or store it in the fridge). You can place the grains in a fresh jar of sugar water and repeat the process for a continuous supply of kefir.

It’s important to note that milk kefir grains and water kefir grains are not the same thing, and they won’t work interchangeably. The easiest way to get water kefir grains is to buy them online. Cultures for Health is a reputable source and they have a wealth of instructional videos and FAQs to help.

Worried about drinking sugar? Allow me to explain! The kefir grains break down the sugar, and this process is what produces the probiotic-rich properties. You can use organic white, raw or rapadura sugar. The sugar content will decrease as the probiotics and enzymes develop.

Once you’ve made water kefir a few times, you’ll find the process quite easy. There really isn’t much to do besides let the grains sit in the sugar water and do their work!

Take It Further

Water kefir recipes are less popular than milk kefir recipes, but they’re gaining popularity as more people discover they can get the same probiotics without the dairy. After your water kefir has finished fermenting, you can do a second ferment with fresh berries or other fruit. Simply place the chopped fruit back in the finished kefir and let sit for another day or two. The result will be a fizzy drink similar to soda—but far healthier, of course!

Curious to learn more about fermentation? I contributed an entire chapter of gut-healing recipes to The Secret Life of Your Microbiome by Susan L. Prescott, MD, PhD and Alan C. Logan, MD. These life-changing recipes were an integral part of my health and wellness journey, and I’m thrilled to share them with you. The book is out in September, but you can reserve your copy on Amazon today!

Fermented Ginger Carrots & Fall Veggie Guide

With fall just around the corner, there are a ton of fruits and vegetables entering their prime. If you’ve been eager to expand your palate and eat healthier foods more often, now is the perfect time. Plus, with new fall routines taking shape, this season provides us with a fresh opportunity to try new things and form new habits. 

Next time you head to the market, pick up some of autumn’s beautiful bounty. A few of the best fall veggies for fermenting include: 

  • Beets
  • Greens
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Apples (Spiced Apple Kraut is amazing! Recipe coming soon…)
The Beauty of Autumn

All these vegetables offer their own health benefits, so it’s good to mix it up throughout the season. However, I have a special affinity for carrots. My Simply Delicious Fermented Ginger Carrots recipe was the first one I made when I started to teach myself how to ferment foods. They were so good, even my kids ate them! 

It was a great way to introduce all that gut-boosting bacteria into our diets. It inspired me to try fermenting other vegetables and I haven’t stopped since. If you’re a beginner and have fear around starting, this is a great go-to, as it only takes a few days to ferment on your counter. 

The best part? Carrots are rich in Vitamin A (which your skin loves), Vitamin C, Vitamin K and other micronutrients. They also have a high fibre content, which makes them a great prebiotic food. Prebiotic foods feed the beneficial bacteria (the probiotics) living in our gut. Plus, the ginger is a wonderful addition for aiding in digestion and relieving digestive discomfort. Not to mention how much flavour it adds to this recipe. 

Fermented Ginger Carrots, using an airlock top

Fermented Ginger Carrots, using an airlock top

Simply Delicious Fermented Ginger Carrots

Ingredients
2 cups filtered water
1 ½ tsp. unrefined sea salt
4 cups grated carrots
1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger

1 probiotic capsule 

Equipment
Small glass jar
½ gallon Mason jar or fermentation crock

Directions

  1. Pour the water and sea salt in a small glass jar and mix until the salt is completely dissolved to create brine. Set aside.
  2. Combine the carrots and ginger and place into a Mason jar or fermentation crock. Pack down firmly with your fist or a tamper and remove any air bubbles.
  3. Pour the brine over the carrots until the water level is just above the carrots. Leave room in the jar, as the carrots will release more liquid.
  4. Be sure to cover your jar with a tea towel fastened with a rubber band to block out any light. Leave the carrots on the counter for 3 days. 
  5. Transfer to fridge when ready. Enjoy!

Give this fall recipe (and my favourite fall vegetables) a try, then follow up with me in the comments below! Or, join the conversation on Instagram

Essential Sauerkraut Recipe

When I talk to most people about fermentation, they often associate it with sauerkraut. That’s because sauerkraut is the “gateway” ferment for those first entering the probiotic world. Of course, there are countless recipes, but if you’re just getting started, my Essential Sauerkraut recipe is the ultimate beginner go-to. For those with more experience, this is a basic recipe that’s always good to have on hand.

Yes, you can buy sauerkraut at the grocery store, but it’s healthier, cheaper and more fun to make at home. And all you really need are 2 ingredients: cabbage and salt. Once you become more confident in your fermenting skills, you can add in a variety of veggies and aromatics. Some of my favourites are onions, carrots, garlic and ginger. You can even make your kraut seasonal by incorporating sliced radish in spring and summer and shredded root vegetables in fall and winter.

If you haven’t had the best experiences with cabbage, like maybe you’ve only ever had it boiled (ack!), rest assured sauerkraut is way more appetizing. In fact, naturally-forming lactobacillus transforms ordinary cabbage into a salty and tart condiment that packs a nutritional punch. What are those nutritional benefits, you ask?

Sauerkraut:
•    Helps boost your immune system
•    Aids in digestion
•    Repairs the gut
•    Decreases inflammation
•    Fights illnesses and allergies

Plus, cabbage is low in fat, yet high in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals… I could really go on all day, but let’s get to the recipe!

Essential Sauerkraut 

Ingredients
1 head of cabbage
Sea salt

Equipment
Wide-mouth jar or fermentation crock

Directions

  1. Chop or grate the cabbage, keeping the pieces relatively even in size.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and sprinkle with sea salt. I recommend about 3 Tbsp. of salt per 5 lbs. of cabbage, but taste as you go. If the cabbage tastes like a potato chip, and you can’t stop at just one, then you have added the perfect amount.
  3. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage, which will create liquid (aka brine). This can take about 15-20 min.
  4. Place the cabbage into a sterilized glass jar or fermentation crock. Add in all of the brine. 
  5. Using your fist or tamper, push all the cabbage below the liquid, getting all the air bubbles out. 
  6. If the brine does not rise above the cabbage, you can add a little salt water (1 tsp. salt in 1 cup filtered water). However, I’d prefer to wait 24 hours to see if more natural brine is produced. 
  7. Seal the jar or follow manufacture's instructions for using your crock. Leave the jar or crock in a cool, dry place and check the kraut every day or two. Don’t be afraid to give it a taste. You can enjoy in 3 days or, for a stronger product, 2-3 weeks. 
  8. When it has the right amount of tang for you, put it into your fridge and enjoy.

I encourage everyone dealing with any type of gut discomfort to give this recipe a try. If you’re interested in learning more about digestive health and living a more beautiful, vibrant life, sign up for a FREE phone session today!