Making your own Probiotics

I am personally tickled about all the buzz around this topic.  Years ago, you’d never hear anyone talking about it, let alone finding products on the grocery shelves with probiotics.   I think  Dannon yogurt was the main player in the yogurt market too.

Now, there are literally dozen’s of different yogurts and many of them from locally produced dairies.  Celebs like Jamie Lee Curtis is  talking about her bowels and regularity for Activa’s line of yogurt (from Dannon). There are vitamins and all kinds of products (many for children) that have added probiotics to them.   Its literally a smorgasbord of probiotics out there.

I think I have tried a lot of them and there is some controversy about the source of the bacteria, just like commercial yeasts.  Is manufactured or naturally brewed best ?   which strained are best ?  I think I just counted a product with 21 different strains in them.   That sounds a little scary too, because what if I introduce something new into my already damaged gut ?!   Let’s face it, IBD’ers guts are already in bad shape.

Just like in sourdough, the best probiotic bacteria is one grown naturally.   That’s why fermented foods are the idea probiotic !  Between making my own yogurt and using fermented veggies, I only buy a commercial probiotic when traveling and I use one with a limited about of strains, and only use strains that are not new fangled lab experiments.

Under recipes, I feature 2 basic recipes, 1 for yogurt from the SCD handbook for dealing with the most damaged of gut conditions.  Another from Sandor Katz, who is now affectionately known as Sandor Kraut, because of his excellent recipes using ferments and kraut.   I have also added a link to his website, so please check out his wonderful books.

If you are just struggling to get buy and don’t have the time or energy yet to make fermented vegetables, please look for Firefly kitchens in your local healthy market, like PCC or Whole Foods. They make a lineup of excellent products like kraut, ginger carrot slaw, pickles etc. which are all naturally fermented.   Bubbies Kosher Dill pickles are also naturally fermented and tasting like pickles from the old country !

Here’s a great article from the Firefly Kitchens about probiotics:

What’s in a Fermented Food and Why is it Good For Me?

Probiotics, Digestive Enzymes, Lactic
Acid, Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants and Immune Boosters, All In One Tasty and Convenient Bite.
Probiotics: “Good” or “friendly” bacteria that live in your digestive system. Probiotics aid in the overall function of your internal systems by maintaining a proper PH level conducive to digestion and absorption without the growth of bad bacteria. Probiotics also play a role in the muscular contractions that move food through your stomach during digestion and help promote the healthy passage of material through your body. Probiotics have been linked to the development of a healthy immune system, cholesterol level, blood pressure, intestinal wall and vitamin and mineral absorption.  The most commonly known probiotics are acidophilus and bifidus, although there are many other beneficial strains.
Digestive Enzymes: Naturally produced chemicals that help breakdown food.  The body produces and uses specific enzymes to breakdown specific foods. Age, poor diet, chemical exposure and poor diegestive health can interefere with the production of digestive enzymes and prevent the easy and effecient breakdown of foods. Supplements and enzyme rich foods can supplement the poor production of digestive enzymes and help the body break down, digest and absorb food for nourishment and energy production.
Lactic Acid: Nature’s way of preventing the spread of bad bacteria.  The process of lacto-fermentation that we use to make our products creates a by product of lactic acid.  Lactic acid not only keeps bacteria from growing in the food during fermentation, it keeps bad bacteria from developing in your digestive system.  By balancing the PH level of the food, and your stomach, lactic acid plays a large role in the health of what you eat and how your body digests. A digestive system with an off-balance PH level can result in bloating, incomplete digestion, sickness and digestive malfunctions.
Vitamins and Minerals: The digestive enzymes, probiotics and lactic acid in fermented foods help promote better absorption and utilization of vitamins and minerals.  When paired with a snack or meal your body will not have to work as hard to acquire the nutrient supply it needs to maintain healthy function.  In addition, the fermentation process creates new nutrients in the food including the B vitamins folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin and biotin which help cell growth and division, immunity, nervous system function, metabolism and muscle toning and Vitamin C which is an antioxidant that battles harmful free-radicals, helps build immunity, and is essential to the functioning of many necessary enzymes in your body.
Antioxidants: Fermented foods have been studied for their antioxidant functions, patrolling the body for free radicals and helping eliminate the potential cancer causing substances from the body.  The lactobacilli in fermented foods also help create omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential for cell membrane and immune system function and play a role in helping eliminate toxins and oxidized compounds from the body.  Digestive enzymes and other detoxifying compounds found in fermented foods all play a role in the antioxidant function within the body.
Immune Boosters: Vitamin C created in the fermentation process helps bolster the immune system and put up a fight against bacterial invasion, and omega 3 fatty acids provide additional immune system strength.  The efficiency of your digestive system when eating fermented foods helps better absorb nutrients and create energy, which helps maintain your overall health on a daily basis.  When the digestive enzymes and probiotics are present, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to get what it needs to function and has help eliminating toxic buildup throughout the digestive system that can contribute to illness.
By maintaining good gut flora, you’ll prevent all kinds of different diseases, especially chronic degenerative ones. Probiotics help control inflammation, which is a central feature of so many degenerative diseases…help increase antibodies…improve digestion…have anticancer properties…[and] can increase good cholesterol while decreasing the bad kind.” – DR. Sonja Petterson

Why are the fermented foods from Firefly Kitchens so good for me?

Foods that undergo the lacto-fermentation process are unpredictable and hard to control in an industrial setting.  Most of the pickled and preserved foods of the same nature that you get at your general grocery store have undergone an altered process involving heat, and vinegar, which preserves the food in a similar nature but does not create the nutritional power food that the natural process of small scale fermentation at Firefly Kitchens does. Through the process of small scale natural fermentation, Firefly Kitchens creates foods that have great benefits for your body.  Due to the above list of qualities regular intake of fermented foods can:

  • Help your body breakdown otherwise difficult to digest foods and make the nutrients more accessible
  • Maintain a more regular and efficient digestive system
  • Promote more efficient energy production
  • Increase nutrient consumption, absorption and impact
  • Build immune function by stimulating cellular and antibody function and creating more immunoreactive cells
  • Help build and maintain a healthy intestinal wall that resists leakage of harmful toxins into the bloodstream caused by poor diet and digestion
  • Decrease allergic reactions by exposing your body to natural microbial colonies, which helps develop immunity to allergen exposure
  • Restore digestive health and re-build gut flora after exposure to antibiotics, which kill all good and bad bacteria
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Reverse hypertension by lowering blood pressure
  • Help alleviate irritable bowel symptoms
  • Aid digestion of lactose and proteins

More on the nature of probiotics-

Probiotics are live microorganisms that live inside a host organism such as your body.  They are considered “good bacteria” that are found naturally on and in living organisms in places such as your gut and intestinal tract.  These “good bacteria” play an important role in the digestion and assimilation process.  Unfortunately, in a world filled with antibiotics, refined foods, high sugar diets, caffeine and alcohol addictions, non organic practices and vastly unbalanced and high stress lifestyles, these naturally occurring good bacteria have a hard time surviving.  Current research is now showing that adding probiotics back into your body while accompanied by a more balanced diet can have immense health benefits.

How do these “good bacteria” get into my foods?

Probiotics are allowed to thrive when a product is not homogenized, pasteurized, artificially preserved or chemically processed.  In fermented foods, like ours at Firefly Kitchens, probiotics prosper in the anaerobic and acidic environment that the lactic acid fermentation process creates.  When our vegetables are washed, chopped and packed with salt in an airtight container, the lactobacilli (a probiotic bacteria found on most living surfaces) that the veggies naturally contain go to work breaking down the starches and sugars and creating lactic acid.  The lactic acid creates a very acidic environment where bad bacteria that may spoil the food cannot grow and good bacteria can multiply.  The un-heated and un-processed techniques we employ provide an atmosphere where billions of probiotic strains thrive and multiply.

For every individual-

Having live bacteria in your body can be a really good thing and every body needs intestinal flora supported by good bacteria and digestive enzymes. The changes you experience with probiotics will vary depending upon the strain and amount you ingest but with a well rounded diet of many types of fermented foods such as our sauerkraut, kimchi, veggies and dressings, as well as other probiotic rich foods such as home made yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, tempeh and miso should give your body an ample variety of probiotics to support a healthy change.




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