Category: Fermented Foods
Cold? Flu? Tummy troubles? I know that I don’t have time to be sick, and I’m sure you don’t either. Luckily I don’t get sick very often anymore, but back in my competitive athlete days, it felt like I was constantly battling one cold, cough, or sinus infection after another.
Not to toot my own horn, but I chalk up my current good health to my Primal lifestyle. I know for sure that there is a marked before and after—before Primal, when I had a medicine cabinet full of OTC remedies, and after, when I rarely take a sick day. On those occasions when I do detect a tickle in my throat or the first signs of sour stomach, my first course of action is to double down on those aspects of my lifestyle that support a robust immune system, particularly nutrient-dense foods, sleep, and time in the sun.
The food piece is what we’re going to talk about today. Everybody has an opinion about what to eat, or not, when you’re under the weather. I’m not claiming that certain foods can cure the flu or prevent you from coming down with that cold even after your sick kid coughs in your face. But once you’re sick, the name of the game is supporting your immune system by providing it with beneficial nutrients and compounds that could aid it in fighting off the viruses or bacteria that are making you sick in the first place. Some foods will also provide welcome comfort, which is nothing to sneeze at, pun intended.
The health world is fixated on fiber, constantly telling us how important fiber is and how we should all be eating more of it. Back in the day, our cultural obsession with fiber was all about being “regular.” You had to load up on fiber to keep things moving, so to speak. Nothing was more important. So we started our days with bland, tooth-cracking breakfast cereal that tasted like tree bark and sparked no joy. But hey, it was loaded with fiber and therefore good for us, right?
I’ve long been skeptical of that particular story, mostly because every major health agency that recommends higher fiber intake also says that we should get much of that fiber from whole grains. And you know how I feel about that. If whole grains aren’t essential (or even healthy, if you ask me), then how could the fiber they provide be essential? It doesn’t add up.
Now, though, as we learn ever more about the emerging science of the microbiome, the fiber story is starting to shift. It’s become less about pushing “roughage” through our colons to create bulkier, more impressive bowel movements (although some people still promote this supposed benefit). Certain types of fiber, it turns out, are essentially food for the microbes living in our guts.
While it’s easy enough to pop down to the grocery store and buy butter, yogurt, or kefir, it can be very rewarding—and easier than you think—to make your own products at home. Making staple dairy foods at home allows you to control what goes into them, control the process, and reconnect to the traditional way of doing things.
Yogurt and kefir are also fermented foods that deliver those oh-so-important probiotics to feed the beneficial microbes in your gut. Rather than rely on store-bought products, which often contain sugar and other additives you wish to avoid, why not make your own at home? Being able to make your own butter, yogurt, and kefir gives you flexibility. It gives you power. Most importantly, it gives you agency: the ability to control what you feed yourself or your family.
Today we’re going to talk about seasonal eating and getting the most out of the winter vegetables you’ll find at your farmer’s market and grocery store this time of year.
The statistics on food waste are sobering, as discussed previously. Reducing food waste takes a multi-pronged approach. Some of the things you can do to waste less food and be more sustainable in the kitchen include:
Prioritize the produce that is seasonal in your region.
Don’t buy more than you need.
Learn how to store food correctly.
Learn how to preserve food if you won’t eat it in time.
Use the whole plant when possible. (Hint: All of the vegetables we’ll be mentioning today have edible leaves!)
Use food scraps in broth, soups, smoothies.
Compost what you don’t eat.
The way it’s reported, you’d think that susceptibility to COVID-19 severity is equally distributed across the world’s population. But when you compare case and mortality rates between countries, differences emerge. There are even differences within countries and states and cities. It’s clear that other variables besides simple exposure to the virus and infection are at play. Research continues to emerge regarding risk factors for severe COVID-19.
What are they?
And, more importantly, can you modify any of the variables?
When Hippocrates, the ancient Greek father of medicine, said, “All disease begins in the gut,” he was probably right. We now know that poor gut health is linked to a broad range of diseases and health conditions, from depression to diabetes, cancer to obesity, and autism to autoimmune disease. Researchers are even exploring the connection between gut bacteria and the severity of COVID-19 infections.
The importance of gut health has never been clearer. Our scientific understanding of the microbiome—the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live in and on our body, especially in the gastrointestinal tract—has grown leaps and bounds since Hippocrates’ time, and even since the last century. Doctors and researchers have much better tools for testing gut health and sequencing the microbiome than they did just a decade ago.
So all the world’s health issues solved, right? Not exactly.