Can I really make my own Probiotics?

Probiotics provide an extra layer of strength. (They behave like) soldiers in your intestinal tract to combat pathogens…
Dr Mary Ellen Sanders

Lacto-fermentation is an ancient preservation method that creates probiotic bacteria. Fermented foods and drinks have been a part of ancient cultures for centuries but they have gained recent popularity because of the focus on the beneficial bacteria they produce. You may be familiar with sauerkraut, dill pickles, fermented vegetables, yoghurt, Kimchi, beet kvass, kombucha, kefir, tibicos and other lacto fermented vegetables that help inoculate the body with beneficial bacteria. These beneficial bacteria are called probiotics. Probiotics help to nourish the gut and make your immune system healthier. The impact of probiotics on our health and wellbeing is still being explored and will be the subject of much more research in years ahead.

In the past until quite recently, when fresh vegetables were in abundance and/or were coming to the end of season, they were often preserved through the process of fermentation. Nowadays, thanks to our ability to transport foods over longer and longer distances in large refrigerated storage, we can buy out of season vegetables all year around. This is not appropriate on so many levels!  At the same time when it comes to preserving vegetables for convenience; freezing and canning have become the methods of choice. One of the traditional preservation methods was the simple art of fermentation which has the added benefit of producing probiotics.

The shift in food choices and convenience have, over the past few decades meant that many probiotic foods have fallen from favour due to changes in the way we preserve foods, particularly vegetables. Today’s western diet is largely comprised of grains, processed foods and refined sugars but also delivers toxins, antibiotics and fertilisers used in its production. To reverse the effect of these manufactured foods, you need to eat plenty of local, seasonal, organic whole foods, vegetables and fruits. Where possible, breathe fresh air, reduce stress, include daily exercise and be kind to yourself. All these will help encourage beneficial flora in your gut. It may be hard to acknowledge but they are all interconnected.

Consuming fermented food not only helps boost the beneficial bacteria in your microflora but it also helps boost vitamin and enzyme production in your body. Both the beneficial bacteria and the active enzymes act as potent detoxifiers in your intestines.

It’s important to get back to the traditions of nourishing your body and soul. Start cooking from scratch, change your diet and lifestyle if they are not promoting your health and wellbeing.  Consume more traditional food, organic produce which includes hormone and fertilizer free products. Stop taking antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs unless absolutely necessary.  Know the difference between when they are effective rather than convenient.

If you are serious about looking and feeling your best, then it’s time to add beneficial probiotics to your diet. You can take them as store bought probiotics but consider having them as part of your diet in your food and drinks. Fermented foods and beverages are the perfect way to obtain the probiotics your body needs. They are a natural step forward to a healthier you and you can make them in the convenience of your home!

While you are inoculating your gut with beneficial bacteria in the form of probiotics, you can go one step further to assist by consuming prebiotics as well. Prebiotics are foods in the form of soluable fibre that makes it all the way down the digestive tract and provides food for the probiotics. Prebiotics nourish probiotics. Probiotics introduce the good bugs into the gut and prebiotics feed them.

Common prebiotic-rich foods include potatoes, shallots, endive, garlic, leek, onion, banana, beetroot, asparagus, carrots, okra, radishes, tomatoes, turmeric, cinnamon, psyllium husks, and whole grain wheat. If possible buy organic vegetables which are pesticide or glyphosate-free. Others that may be unfamiliar or harder to find include cassava, jicama, Jerusalem artichoke, raw chicory root, dandelion greens, wheat dextrin and acacia gum.

Probiotics can easily be bought and consumed but it is cheaper, far more of an adventure and fun to learn to ferment and consume your probiotics as part of your diet. When you ferment at home there is a greater diversity of probiotics where significant because this diversity builds resilience in your gut flora which in turn builds resilience in your immune function. That sounds like a good idea to me!