Fermented foods and beverages have been the big buzz in health promoting circles recently, showing up on Dr. Oz and magazine articles like Martha Stewart Living, pretty main stream. But they have long been known in the inner circle of researchers, alternative nutritional therapies, by the Weston A. Price Foundation, in Permaculture circles, and with those in the know.
The reason it’s such a hot subject lately is that we are now experiencing so much pollution, contamination, and so many more health challenges with GMOs and other alterations of our food and water supplies, that people are getting sicker. We’re seeing more autism and obesity in children, more behavioral problems and the solutions to them which are worse (methamphetamines for little kids – unimaginable!) for such things as ADHD, that people are waking up to the fact that we better do something about this or we aren’t going to make a healthy life for ourselves and our families.
Our bodies are out of balance. The natural symbiotic relationship our species has had with beneficial gut flora and other natural micro-organisms which are identical with ones found in healthy soil, is being systematically removed from our lives. Until about 80 to 100 years ago, up to 40% of our diets were made up of fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, and fermented vegetables of various cultures: Kim chi if you are Korean, or pickled vegetables in all the Oriental cultures. But we now have grocery stores where everything, practically, is pasteurized which kills off these vital organisms, with very few exceptions like yogurt or sour cream, if left in their natural states.
Instead we are eating meat that is loaded with anti-biotics from the industrialized food industry, all kinds of hormones and additives to our milk, cheese, eggs, and almost every animal based food. These anti-biotics are meant to kill pathogenic (disease causing) microbes but they kill off everything, including the micro-organisms we need for the healthy workings of every cell in our bodies. And they weaken our immune system so opportunistic viruses, bacteria, and fungal based diseases like Candida (a system wide yeast parasite causing exhaustion and other symptoms) can come right in without having the natural filter of a wide variety of gut flora and microbes which if in good supply, get them before they get you. Since 85% of your immune system is made up of these good microbes, we need to constantly resupply our bodies with them.
Fermented Foods to the Rescue
Here’s where the fermented foods and beverages come in. Those beneficial gut flora are called ‘pro-biotics’ meaning pro – for, and biotics – life. If we don’t deliberately re-charge our guts with pro-biotics, all it takes is one course of anti-biotics from the doctor or a lifetime of eating grocery food to have big holes in our ability to fight off infection. That’s why we are getting MRSA (a staph infection that anti-biotics can’t kill) and other resistant strains which are killing people. Fermenting foods produces those good microbes and supply them to our bodies in a food.
We can take a pro-biotic pill, but who knows how long that pill with a living organism has been sitting in a warehouse or shelf. Remember it’s a LIVING organism or it’s not a pro-biotic.
There are literally thousands of kinds of beneficial microbes and each one of them has their place in the chemistry and activity of the cells in the body. We need a very wide variety of them to give us all the functions they are there to provide. So, we need a variety of sources of pro-biotics, not just a pill with 10 kinds. And if they are in a food form, that is how nature designed us, so we get the full benefits. Eating organic foods that have not been sprayed with chemicals have some of them, one of the reasons to eat organic foods instead of commercially grown ones. Eating yogurt with lacto bacillus like Activia is a start. But there are hundreds of strains of lactobacillus just to name one family of the good microbes, and yogurt only supports a few kinds.
Fermented Beverages for Detox
In comes the whole subject of fermented beverages. We need to rehydrate our bodies all the time, especially more so in summer when we lose water from sweating and sitting in dry air conditioned spaces.
Why not drink something really delicious, loaded with all the beneficial pro-biotics we need, where the sugar has been transformed into organic acids the body desperately needs to detoxify the rest of the junk we have accumulated by eating processed and chemically-loaded foods the rest of the time.
And because we need a variety of pro-biotic types, it helps to drink a number of these fermented beverages.
Kombucha Tea is one of the best, and is known for its detoxifying properties as well as disease-fighting and liver protective qualities. It contains a lot of glucuronic acid which bonds with toxins in the liver and takes them out of circulation and through the kidneys to eliminate them as well as a number of other similar organic acids which neutralize a number of kinds of toxins and poisons. But because it is SO detoxifying, there’s a limit to how much one can drink comfortably without bringing on a healing crisis (max about 16 oz. a day taken in 4 glasses of 4 oz. each). It’s delicious and wonderful but you can’t drink liters of it in a day in order to keep up with the demands of the body for hydration.
That brings us to Water Kefir, a little known beverage you can make yourself for pennies a day with good water, organic cane sugar and the culture called Tibico, little grain sized particles of jelly like bacteria/yeast symbiotic bio-mass (living matrix). It takes a few minutes to make, doesn’t require cooking, takes 24 to 48 hours to brew, and another day or so in the second ferment to add flavor, and you can totally use it as a soda or sports drink substitute.
Children love it. It makes a sparkly fizzy drink that satisfies thirst, tastes delicious, and can be made up in your favorite flavors using things you have already got in your house or fridge. It only takes a glass jar and a plastic strainer (the Tibico doesn’t like metal next to it or used when making it except non-reactive stainless steel)
Start out by drinking a few ounces at a time but as you build up, you can drink liters of it a day without worrying about overloading on sugar (the sugar gets made by the Tibico into all those good bio-chemicals the cells need), and the things you use to flavor it can add more benefits like vitamins and minerals or if using herbs, quietly beneficial medicinal effects. It is a powerful pro-biotic and it will detoxify the body. If you get headaches or have flu-like symptoms, that’s just the body getting rid of the toxins too quickly. Simply back off to a smaller amount and build back up slowly.
In the first ferment 20% of the sugar will remain as fructose, but after 48 hours, one quart of the liquid contains only 1.4% fructose – about as much as a green tart apple.
The Tibico lasts indefinitely if given a bit of minerals and if you feed it by making a new batch every 48 hours or so, and it reproduces slowly so you can make more of the grains and share them or even eat them in time. It may change size or color with the seasons, but you almost can’t kill it. It can be frozen or dehydrated for storage, and brought back to life by thawing out and putting back in the sugar water. Dehydrated grains can be shipped and stored for quite a long time. It’s a tough little liquid crystal (polysaccharide matrix) baby.
Nutritional benefits include Vitamins K, B Complex, Folic acids and a number of other organic acids, enzymes, and whatever minerals are present in the water, sugar or added minerals supplements you put in your fermentation. If using Himalayan salt, 84 trace minerals are found there. Celtic salt, baking soda, egg shells, molasses all contain many trace and major minerals. The more you supply to it, the more you get to drink.
Detoxification benefits include the organic acids which draw out toxins in the liver as the blood runs through it, and send them to the kidneys where they are eliminated. Also, by continuing to drink lots of it, the probiotics themselves process toxins and poisons in the gut and flush them out down the intestines as well as keep the stool loose so it doesn’t jam up as constipation. When putting some of the delicious herbs in to flavor, such as lemon grass, those herbs also have benefits which help to keep the body running smoothly.
And if that wasn’t enough, here are even more health benefits include, besides all found with probiotics, and the detoxification of metals and toxins; an excellent skin wash for dermatitis, eczema and other skin disorders, and hair rinse; immune system support for AIDS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Herpes, Candida, Auto-Immune diseases and Cancer (from testimonial accounts); potent anti-biotic, anti-fungal, intestinal cleansing which reduces bloating and flatulence, flattens abdominals and promotes bowel movement; reduces cravings for sugar and junk food; cleanses the liver, gall bladder and kidneys (including cystitis – inflamed bladder), improves the skin, helps eliminate acne, lessens eczema and brown liver spots, moles and warts; builds strong bones; eases aches and joint pains; improves vision; flushes the endocrine systems – adrenals glands, thyroid, pituitary glands, ovaries and testes and has been known to promote healthier menstrual cycles and reverse early menopause; nervous system benefits by providing electrolytes for helping with sleep disorders, depression, ADHD and Autism; prevents allergies; balances out the body for overall health and healing; helps with internal ulcers, bronchial catarrh (mucus), sclerosis, myocardial infarctions, and helps heal and with convalescence after serious disease or trauma; helps regulate blood pressure and weight control; good results during pregnancy and abdominal female complains; helps prevent intestinal putrification (which toxifies the body) and doesn’t alter healthy digestive processes. In chronic conditions great quantities should be drunk daily, sometimes as much as 3 times a day in two cup amounts up to two liters a day depending on the condition, as it helps to balance the body’s organic acids and other chemical functions, takes out toxins formed from bacterial, fungal and viral infections, hydrates and feed the body needed vitamins, minerals and enzymes, and draws out heavy metals and poisons once you build up to large amounts.
Learn how to make water kefit at home at by watching our video tutorial or buy grains/kits here