The Top 10 Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

The Top 10 Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

For thousands of years, indigenous cultures worldwide have understood that cooked & fermented foods are more feeding & nourishing to the body than raw foods.

Raw foods are cleansing and detoxifying to the body because they are harder to digest. Whereas, cooking foods breaks down their cellular structure, making them easier to digest. Our ancestors developed methods to make foods more digestible through cooking and fermentation that have more nutritional value then many modern foods.

Asian cultures ferment kimchi (fermented cabbage), kefir, miso, sake, pickled ginger and shubat (fermented camel milk). India and the Middle East have fermented chutneys, various yogurts, and torshi (mixed vegetables). Europeans fermented sauerkraut, kefir, crème fraiche, and rakfisk (salted, fermented trout). In South America, kombucha, and cacao beans which must be fermented first before use. In the Pacific, they have poi (fermented, mashed taro root) and kanga pirau. And in the U.S., we used to ferment sauerkaut & make relish, pickling, & ketchup. My Austrian grandfather kept barrels of fermented pickles, sauerkaut & pigs parts in his cellar in upstate New York.

Today foods such as sauerkraut and pickles, contain no live enzymes and are poor substitutes produced quickly for mass consumption. Commercial sauerkraut and pickles, are preserved in vinegar instead of the traditional and naturally occurring lactic acid forming bacteria.. Unless the producer adds bacteria, store bought sauerkraut is usually pasteurized and void of taste and nutrients. Lactobacilli contribute to the protection of the body against infections and stimulate the immune system. Probiotics have become popular today because they add back into our digestive system those microflora that our gut needs to prevent allergies & infections.

To heal your digestive system, you can Buy Probiotic Enzymes or Make Real Fermented Foods.

The Top 10 Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

1. Fermented foods are instrumental in healing & restoring the balance of gut flora in our bodies. Lacto-fermented foods normalize the acidity of the stomach. In the not too distant past, people who ate traditional, whole foods diets ate this bacteria on a regular basis did not have a severe gut deficit that we do today.

pickled-red-cabbage

Pickled Red Cabbage

2. The beneficial bacteria in fermented foods are very potent detoxifiers, capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals. Molecules in the bacteria grab hold of mercury, lead, aluminum, arsenic, and other toxins, which are then removed through stool. Fermentation removes phytic acid from grains, nuts and seeds, which otherwise would block mineral
absorption and lead to deficiencies. Eating improperly prepared grains is a major cause of
osteoporosis in our culture.

3. Lactobacilli converts starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits into lactic acid, a natural preservative that inhibits putrefication and also act as anantioxidant, and anti carcinogenic agent, reducing cancer precursors known as free radicals.

4. Sauerkraut contains large quantities of choline, a water soluble nutrient. Choline must be consumed through the diet in order for the body to remain healthy and it may lower the risk for breast cancer in women and also helps to lower blood pressure. Sauerkraut also contain acetylcholine, which reduces blood pressure, slows the rate of the heartbeat and promotes calmness and good sleep.

5. You only need to consume small amounts every day in a greater variety to get the optimum amount of microorganisms possible. Steer clear of pasteurized versions, as pasteurization will destroy many of the naturally occurring probiotics. Most of the “probiotic” yogurts you find in grocery store these days are not recommended. They’re pasteurized and they also typically contain added sugars, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, and artificial sweeteners.

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6. Consuming traditionally fermented foods will also help you absorb more important nutrients such as vitamin K2, which is important for preventing arterial plaque buildup and heart disease. It also facilitates the synthesis of certain vitamins, such as vitamin C, and B12, which can only be produced in the presence of lactic bacteria.

7. Probiotics have been shown to help optimize your intestine’s immune system. With eighty percent of your immune system located in your digestive system, your gut is a major focal point on your way to maintaining optimal health. Buy Probiotic Enzymes

Pickled Cucumbers - Cultured Vegetables

Pickled Cucumbers – Cultured Vegetables

8. Save money by eating real foods rather then supplements. Fermented foods can contain 100 times more probiotics than a supplement. A cost effective strategy would be to eat a small amount of fermented foods with each meal to replace some of the supplements you are  now taking.

9. Aging decreases your body’s supply of enzymes, but fermented foods are rich in enzymes, and so can help offset this shortage. Eating an enzyme-rich diet reduces the stress on your pancreas, and therefore could reduce your risk of many different chronic diseases. Warding off enzyme depletion, can help you live a longer, healthier life.

10. Fermentation preserves food. Fermentation organisms produce alcohol, lactic acid and acetic acid, all “biopreservatives” that retain nutrients and prevent spoilage. Captain Cook conquered scurvy among his sailing crews by bringing large quantities of sauerkraut, which is very high in Vitamin C, on his lengthy voyages. Not a single sailor got scurvy and the last barrel of kraut was still perfectly preserved after 27 months.

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Exercising on an empty stomach can boost muscle building

Exercising on an empty stomach can boost muscle building

A hungry womanWorking out on an empty stomach can boost your overall health and fitness.

Simply skip breakfast and exercise first thing in the morning and then have a protein recovery meal 30 minutes after your workout. Whether you choose to exercise on an empty stomach or not, your post exercise meal is crucial to stop the catabolic process in your muscle and shift the process toward repair and growth. An example of a catabolic process is knowing that your muscles actually endure a break down phase because of hormones released during each workout, and that you have the ability to counteract this process by consuming high-quality nutrient sources before, or after your exercise sessions.

If you fail to feed your muscle at the right time after exercise, the catabolic process will go too far and can potentially damage your muscle. The correct time to eat is within 30 minutes after your workout. Your meal should include fast-assimilating proteins, such as a high-quality whey protein shake with no sugar added.
Dr. Mercola Miracle Whey Protein Powder (Vanilla)

If you cannot exercise in a fasted state due to fatigue, or simply opt not to for some other reason, you can also consume whey protein before exercise. It’s an excellent breakfast choice. A 2010 study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise demonstrated that consuming whey protein 30 minutes before resistance training can boost your body’s metabolism for as much as 24 hours after your workout.

Dr. Mercola Miracle Whey Protein Powder (Chocolate)Certain amino acids, such as leucine found in high-quality whey protein activate certain cellular mechanisms which promote muscle protein synthesis, boost thyroid, and also protect against declining testosterone levels after exercise. They have also have been found to improve performance in high intensity exercise.

Leucine helps you lose weight and builds muscle when dieting

Leucine triggers muscle growth. Leucine is an essential amino acid, which simply means our bodies cannot produce it and we must get it from dietary sources. Researchers have known about leucine for decades, but exciting new research has shed a new and broader light on this important health-promoting amino acid. Much of protein’s benefits may be attributable to leucine due to its ability to stimulate protein synthesis, help turn on the body’s switch to build muscle and spare muscle when dieting.

Whether you’re interested in building muscle or preventing muscle loss that normally occurs during dieting and aging, stimulating protein synthesis is absolutely key. Most people know that consuming protein induces an increase in muscle protein synthesis, which is why protein supplements are popular to consume after exercise.

A large number of studies have shown that high protein diets help spare muscle loss during dieting and weight loss. Researchers at the University of Illinois conducted studies that examined weight loss diets containing 10 grams of leucine per day and 125 grams total of protein per day.The groups consuming high leucine diets had greater weight loss, greater fat loss and better preservation of lean body mass. In these studies, the high leucine diets also resulted in better glucose control.

The best food sources of leucine include any proteins from animals that naturally contain all the essential amino acids. The protein source with the highest leucine content is whey, which contains about 10% leucine or 10 grams per 100 grams of protein. If you drink a whey protein shake that has about 25 grams of protein, you would get about 2.5 grams of naturally occurring leucine.
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Eating too many carbs in relation to protein and fat is a big mistake

Scientists have found that as you age, the ratio between protein and carbohydrates is critically important. Research shows that a high-protein/high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet is most effective both for muscle building and weight loss. In order to build muscle, you clearly need calories, but there’s compelling evidence showing that calories from fat are far better than calories from carbohydrates.

To maximize the benefits of exercise, you’ll want to avoid fructose and other sugar drinks, unless you are engaged in intensive and prolonged cardio exercises that will allow you to burn these sugars and not store them as fat. Most casual exercisers and those seeking to mostly improve body composition and optimize health and fitness need to stop using energy drinks, sports drinks, like Gatorade and most energy bars that contain fructose  and even “healthy” drinks like vitamin water.

These fructose laden drinks sabotage your exercise benefits by tricking your body into gaining weight by turning off your body’s appetite-control system. It’s also important to realize that consuming fructose, including that from fruit juices, within two hours of your workout (before or after) will also decimate your natural human growth hormone (HGH) production.

If you are doing high-intensity interval training, such as CrossFit, a major benefit of such exercise is an increase in your HGH, HGH is also known as “the fitness hormone,” and some athletes pay a lot of money for HGH injections. But the combination of eliminating fructose and doing high-intensity interval training while fasting is a natural and the preferred way to optimize your HGH.

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Oh No! I’m Sick. What do I do Now?

Oh No! I’m Sick. What do I do Now?

leaf-and-herbal-bottleThere are many things you can do to recover, too many to put them all in this blog, but I will list a few of my favorites for you.

1] Go to Bed!

YOU NEED REST FOR YOUR BODY TO WIN! The sooner you give yourself what you need, the quicker you will heal. It’s really that simple.

2] Food:

Eat light broth, vegetable soups with a bit of meat (like fish or chicken, not red meat). Throw in scallions and lots of garlic; they are great for fighting colds and flus. You can also have room temperature fruit like apples, pears, melons, papayas. Please no fruit juices; it’s just a glass of sugar. Your body needs access to solid nutrition without having to work hard to get it. Do not eat dairy, fried foods, or wheat products – they are mucus factories.

3] Herbal Medicinal Teas:

Besides drinking a lot of room temperature water. Medicinal teas are your super cold and flu ass-kicking arsenal.

Rosehip Plus – This tea is my personal favorite that I will start drinking immediately if I feel anything coming on. You will be amazed at its effectiveness. Drink cup after cup, the more, the better. Here are the incredibly simple ingredients. Please use organic wherever possible, since pesticides do not help you beat a cold or flu. [ How to Dry & Store Rose Hips for Rose Hip Tea ]

    • 4 Tbsp. dried rosehip pieces.
    • 2-4 slices of ¼” fresh ginger.
    • Juice of ½ a fresh lemon.
    • A whopping big tablespoon of raw, organic honey. (Note: Not suitable for infants.)
    • Boil 6 cups water and add ingredients in a steeping teapot, steep for at least 10 minutes, more is even better. Drink one cup right away, then simply reheat the tea for additional cups.
    • I use the same batch of rosehips and ginger slices for two teapots, and I let the second pot steep longer. Just add more lemon and honey to the second batch and off you go again.

grinding-herbsCustom Medicinal Blend – I will make a custom blend of ingredients to address different symptoms. There are too many herbs to list them all here, but I’ll give my favorites and their functions. You can pick and choose which ones you want and create your own healing blend of tea. It’s actually fun to make your own medicine! You can put together any of the ingredients listed below, and follow the same steps as described previously for Rosehip Plus Tea. Always sweeten your tea with raw, honey which has loads of antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic properties in it and a lot of nutrition besides. These teas are for older children 4+ and adults, do not give to infants, mother’s milk is best for their immune system.

Rosehips:

    • Actions include: antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antispasmodic, expectorant, blood tonic, menstrual regulator, kidney tonic, digestive stimulant, sedative, cleansing, and increases bile production, astringent.
    • Pretty gosh darn amazing herb. I put it in all of my cold and flu herbal teas.
    • I usually use 3-4 tablespoons per batch.

Echinacea:

    • Actions include: antibiotic, immune stimulant, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-allergenic, lymphatic tonic.
    • Echinacea is fabulous for boosting your body’s ability to fight off colds and flus and infections and inflammation of any type.
    • It’s expensive, but I add it to all of my cold and flu herbal teas along with the rosehips.
    • Dosage: 1 tablespoon.

Meadowsweet:

    • Actions include: anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, soothing digestive remedy, diuretic, promotes sweating.
    • Meadowsweet is used to reduce inflammations and fevers. Although meadowsweet contains salicylic acid, like aspirin, this herb modifies the action of salicylic acid and actually protects the digestive tract. Long use of aspirin can lead to gastric ulceration and bleeding, but meadowsweet does not show these side effects, and is actually a gently digestive remedy for acidity and some types of diarrhea.
    • If you have a fever add meadowsweet, it will also help to reduce the aches and pains associated with colds and flus.
    • Dosage: 1 tablespoon.

Yarrow:

    • Actions include: febrifuge, promotes sweating, relaxes peripheral blood vessels, digestive stimulant, and as a menstrual system restorative.
    • Yarrow is another good herb to add for reducing fevers.
    • Dosage: 1 tablespoon.

Coltsfoot:

    • Actions include: relaxing expectorant, reduces phlegm, antispasmodic, demulcent.
    • Coltsfoot leaves and flowers are great for coughs and reducing phlegm, acute or chronic.
    • Dosage: 1 tablespoon.

Mullein:

    • Actions include: expectorant, demulcent, mild diuretic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, sedative.
    • Mullein is great to use for coughs and to soothe a sore throat.
    • Dosage: 1 tablespoon.

Hyssop:

    • Actions include: expectorant, promotes sweating, reduces phlegm, antispasmodic, carminative, and relaxes peripheral blood vessels.
    • Hyssop is another great herb for coughs and phlegm. Great in combination with mullein.
    • Dosage: 1 tablespoon.

Chamomile:

    • Actions include: anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, sedative, anti-emetic.
    • I add chamomile to help reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with a cold or flu. It helps one relax and sleep, and it soothes the stomach and reduces nausea.
    • Dosage: 1 tablespoon.

These are just some of my favorite herbs that I keep stocked all the time, there are many more. I encourage you to do a bit of research and discover your own favorites to add to your herbal pharmacy. It’s a great feeling not to run to the pharmacy for drugs when you’re not feeling well, but instead to start a pot of a good medicinal herbal tea brewing! You can find these wonderful organic herbs offered in my cold and flu first aid kits on my website at www.inspirewellnesscenter.com.

4] Medicinal Herbal Formulas

If you do start to come down with a cold or flu, there are some fantastic herbal formulas you can use in addition to your medicinal teas. They are a MUST HAVE for your herbal medicine cabinet.

Gan Mao Ling:

This is one of my two first line of defense formulas. It can be used as a cold or flu preventative when you’ve been around already sick people and don’t want to come down with anything. It may just stop a cold or flu dead in its tracks before anything happens. However, if you do start to feel any of the symptoms associated with a cold or flu such as fever with chills, headache, sore throat, red eyes, stiff neck and back, nasal discharge, cough, swollen lymph glands and general aching. Start taking Gan Mao Ling as directed on the bottle or package.

Gan Mao Ling is especially good to use when a cough or sinus congestion is present at the onset of a cold or flu. Gan Mao Ling is safe for children to use, but don’t use on children under four.

Yin Qiao Wan (or sometimes spelled Yin Chiao):

This formula is my other first line of defense formulas. It’s similar to Gan Mao Ling in that it can also be used as a preventative if you’ve been exposed to others who are already sick or you can even take it before you go on a plane trip as added protection from all those airborne germs.

    • If you come down with a cold or flu and feel any of the symptoms associated with a cold or flu as listed above in the Gan Mao Ling description you can use Yin Qiao Wan. The difference between this and Gan Mao Ling is that Yin Qiao is stronger for helping the sore throat. If you wake up and your throat is killing you, just run for the Yin Qiao Wan.
    • For added punch – Gan Mao Ling and Yin Qiao Wan are great to use together, no problem.

Zhong Gan Lin:

This formula is the big guns of the terrific trio. If you’re symptoms are advancing and now you’ve got a severe head cold or flu with headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches, fever and chills add Zhong Gan Ling to the group. You can use it alone or with Yin Qiao and/or Gan Mao Ling depending on whether the congestion or throat is bothering you more. All three are fine to use together, the herbs complement each other.

I keep all three formulas on hand, and they are a must to bring along whenever you travel. Again, for convenience, I do offer Gan Mao Ling, Yin Qiao, and Zhong Gan Ling on my website at www.inspirewellnesscenter.com.

5] Remove stress from your environment:

To give yourself the best fighting chance to recover. Relax, let go of your worries, it’s not helping. You’re stuck in bed for the moment, so take it like an adult, and relax. Listen to soothing music, watch a movie that leaves you feeling good, or just sleep. Please no brain work outs while you’re sick. That means NO working in bed either. This is a time to surround you with a pleasant, happy, healing environment. The more you do to help yourself recover, the faster it will happen.

Cold and Flu First Aid Kits

If you don’t want the bother of trying to find the herbs and putting all the formulas together for yourself, I’ve designed several ‘cold and flu first aid kits’ that are perfect to take care of your medicinal needs. They include all the formulas and herbs for the medicinal teas that are mentioned above. Plus, the herbs are organic. They are the Cold and Flu Prevention Kit, the Cold and Flu First Aid Kit, the Deluxe Cold and Flu First Aid Kit, and the All-In-One Deluxe Cold and Flu Kit. You can pick and choose the ones you feel best suit your needs. Again, you can find these indispensable natural and holistic first aid kits on my website at www.inspirewellnesscenter.com.

Wrap-up:

Well, I hope this little cold and flu primer has been helpful for you, and gives you more tools in your wellness toolkit. One note of caution, however, is that if your symptoms persist for longer than two weeks or you feel you’re getting worse, not better, than by all means take your health care to the next level and consult an acupuncturist or western medical professional. As a special note, several of these herbs are not suitable to take if pregnant. Please consult myself, or another acupuncturist or herbalist for herbal remedies suitable for pregnancy.
holly-reeseWritten by: Holly Reese, MSOM, L.Ac. She is an acupuncturist, herbalist, wellness coach, food-healing expert, founder of the Inspire Wellness Center, which specializes in natural and holistic health alternatives for the recovery of chronic illness. Holly Reese is also author of Rising from the Abyss: My Journey into and out of Chronic Illness a gripping memoir that details Holly’s personal descent into and eventual rise from a nearly fatal auto-immune disorder using all the natural and holistic health methods that she espouses and uses for her wellness practice. Feel free to contact her at: holly@inspirewellnesscenter.com.

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