How Kombucha Saved My Health

For me, kombucha was love at first sip.  It continues to blow my mind that a carbonated beverage is responsible for correcting years of my digestive and energy problems. By now you’ve probably seen a kombucha bottle at your local grocer and maybe you’ve tried it and maybe you’re scared to try it. Yes, there are living cultures in your drink, but don’t be afraid.  These lovely little creatures, aka, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), are responsible for fermenting tea into ‘buch. It’s pretty crazy too, because SCOBYs can live for years.  My SCOBY was passed onto me by someone who acquired hers in the early ’90s.  Kombucha starts off as tea with sugar, and the SCOBY lives off the sugar during the fermentation process. Don’t worry about the high sugar content at the beginning of the process. The sugar that goes into the drink at the beginning of the process is intended for that SCOBY to eat and break down into vitamins, minerals, enzymes and organic-acids.  Some of the main vitamins to expect from your kombucha are vitamin B and vitamin C, but basically, the kombucha culture is a health powerhouse in your kitchen.

Me and my baby SCOBY getting ready to make a new batch of 'buch.

Me and my baby SCOBY getting ready to make a new batch of ‘buch.

A Little History of Kombucha

The origins of kombucha are unknown, although it’s believed that the health drink started in Asia.  A Korean physician named Kombu was said to have treated the Emperor Inyko with the drink, which is why the drink is called “kombucha.”  After this, the drink allegedly made its way through the Silk Road, and ended up in households in Europe.  The drink made a disappearance though during WWII, since there was a sugar ration, so the ingredients to make the drink were hard to come by.  Apparently it wasn’t until the ’90s that kombucha started to make its comeback.

Kombucha and Its Health Benefits

My clients come to me with digestive troubles, unmanageable stress, insomnia, yeast infections, leaky gut, low energy, depression, weight problems, or in need or a good liver or kidney cleanse. 9 times out of 10 I prescribe kombucha to my clients, and I’d say 100% of the time my clients report back with amazing results.  There isn’t a ton of medical research on kombucha, but it’s been used for centuries to heal, and I’ve even experienced for myself the power of the ‘buch.  Other illnesses or problems that kombucha is said to help with are allergies, cancer, metabolic disorders, candida, hypertension, HIV, chronic fatigue and arthritis, though this is mostly from experimental evidence from people who’ve been drinking kombucha for awhile.

Kombucha is also a probiotic. Probiotics come in a variety of food or supplement forms, but drinking kombucha has become slightly religious for me. Probiotics add healthy bacteria to our gut, which is why it’s helpful with alleviating so many health problems.  Many of us unknowingly suffer from gut and digestive problems because of all the stresses on our body.  Stress from unhealthy foods, from toxins in our environment, from being overworked and exhausted, etc, all harm our health and the way things function inside us.  If you’ve ever taken an antibiotic without taking an accompanying probiotic, there’s a very good chance your insides are wiped clean of much of the healthy bacteria that’s essential for our health.  Taking probiotics will add back healthy bacteria.

My favorite brand and flavor of kombucha.

My favorite brand and flavor of kombucha.

Kombucha and YOU

Do you have a personal success story with kombucha?  Do you have questions about how kombucha or probiotics might help improve your health?  If so, then please email me at jessicakhealth@gmail.com or reach me through my website, www.jkhealthcoach.com.

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

If you are new to fermenting just like me, then red cabbage sauerkraut is a great place to start.

unnamed-6Why eat red cabbage?  Flavanoids, which give the cabbage its awesome color, and sulfur compounds, which give the vegetable it’s sharp taste, are both cancer-preventatives. Cabbage is also packed with fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C and Vitamin K. When eaten as raw sauerkraut, the cabbage becomes a fantastic source of probiotics, which aid in gut health and contribute to a healthy immune system.

Making the sauerkraut was simple.  All you need is the head of red cabbage, sea salt, a bowl, and a mason jar or some container with a tight-fitting lid.  If you don’t have a lid then use Saran Wrap with a rubber band.

Ingredients:

1. red cabbage

2. sea salt – 1 tablespoon

Instructions:

1. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, but save one or two leaves for later use.

2. Cut the cabbage in quarters.  Thinly slice the cabbage or grate with a food processor or box grater.  You can include the core, if you’d prefer.

unnamed-73. Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle 1 tablespoon salt over it.  Massage the salt into the cabbage using your (clean) hands.  It will begin to soften and release juices creating its own brine.

IMG_48834.  Pour the cabbage with its juices into your jar.  Press the cabbage down with your fist or a “kraut pounder” until it’s submerged in its own juices.  I used a wooden spoon because my fist couldn’t fit in the jar.

5. Take the reserved outer leaf and use it to cover the kraut in the jar.  The leaf should be slightly submerged in the juices, but should form a lid of the kraut.

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6. Cover your jar tightly and let it sit in and ferment at room temperature for 3 days, or until it smells ready.

Enjoy on top of tacos, brisket, sandwiches, or with chopped apples for a delicious salad.

Sources: SFGate.com, RealFoodKosher.com

Probiotics for Beginners

You may have been wondering what the kombucha hype is all about, and seriously, what the heck is tempeh anyway? Maybe you’ve heard of or seen probiotics before, but you don’t know why they’re important.  It’s also possible you’ve consumed probiotics, maybe most of your life, and didn’t realize.

Bandit wondering, what is this kombucha?

Bandit thinking, what is this kombucha stuff mom drinks?

TN_Lede_Probiotics_0911Our bodies contain around 100 trillion microbes, most of them bacteria, and some beneficial bacteria.  Probiotics are the good bacteria.  These living organisms reside in our colons and small intestine.  They keep our guts clean, aid in digestion and add bulk to solid wastes.  Probiotics also fight disease-causing microbes, and can help with health problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infectious diarrhea, and antibiotic-related diarrhea (webmd). Probiotics are important to take while on antibiotics, since antibiotics cause a loss of healthy bacteria. home-care-options-abound-for-people-suffering-from-depression-in-home-care-support-services

Stress or poor diet might reduce the numbers of healthy bacteria in the small intestine as well, and vice versa, a lack of healthy bacteria has shown to trigger feelings of depression and anxiety when there’s an imbalance within the gut (beginwithnutrition).

There are different types of probiotics and various ways to consume them, either through supplements or through various foods.  Skip the supplements and experiment with eating some of the following foods:

Yogurt- Yogurt is made from fermented milk using certain bacteria, but only types labeled as containing live bacteria (“active cultures”) are actually probiotic.

Kefir- Similar to yogurt and contains sometimes up to ten diverse strains of good bacteria.  It’s fermented using a combination of bacteria and yeast with milk proteins and complex sugars.  Made from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or rice milk.  Kefir is a good choice if you’re lactose intolerant, because the lactose it once contained is broken down through fermentation.

Buttermilk– Made with strains of lactic acid-making bacteria added to regular pasteurized milk.

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Raw Milk- Maybe only five states in the U.S. actually allow the sale of raw milk and there are debated health risks, but raw milk drinkers swear by the stuff because of all the good bacteria.

Soy Milk- Must say “contains active cultures” on the label.

darkchocolateDark Chocolate- Certain types of high-quality chocolate contain probiotics.  Dark chocolate is also a source of antioxidants!

Miso- A staple of Japanese cuisine, miso is made with fermented soy, barley, wheat, or rice with a fungus that produces a red, white, or dark brown salty paste.  When cooking with miso, add it to hot foods at the end of cooking to preserve the probiotic cultures as much as possible.

Tempeh- High in proteins and minerals, tempeh also promotes intestinal health.  Tempeh originates in Indonesia and is made with cooked soybeans and an added fungus culture. It’s then fermented into a thick, meaty block.

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Natto- typical Japanese breakfast dish


N
atto- Made from fermented soybeans with a distinctive flavor, smell, and sticky texture.  Also a stap

le of the Japanese diet.

Kimchi- A pickled Chinese dish of cabbage, eggplant, or other vegetables fermented with red chili and other spices for at least a month.  Kimchi is full of fiber, vitamins, iron, and various types of probiotic bacteria.

Sauerkraut- German for “sour cabbage,” sauerkraut is made from fermented, finely shredded, salty cabbage and contains a variety of heathy bacteria.  Buy fresh sauerkraut that contains lives cultures, versus some commercial brands of sauerkraut.

Pickles- These crunchy treats contain lots of probiotics.

brew_dr_kombucha_smKombucha Tea- This Asian drink restores energy and aids digestion.

Olives- Olives in brine are probiotics, because the brine allows probiotics to survive and thrive.