How to Make Kefir & Sauerkraut – It’s Easier than You Think

kefir

Homemade kefir is extremely easy to make, in a mason jar on your kitchen counter overnight. The key ingredient is a starter culture, known as “kefir grains”. They look like popcorn, and expand as you make batches. In a few months you’ll have enough to share with your friends. They have a chewy texture and are loaded with probiotic power, so if you love your kefir, eat some grains for an added boost.

The only other thing you need is a plastic strainer, to separate the grains from your milk, and collect them for a new batch — in the same jar where you made the first. Just add more milk (or almond, soy and coconut milk, if you’re not a fan of dairy), and park it in a spot on your counter that stays as close to 75F (24C) as possible. I cover mine with a paper towel and rubber band, so it can breathe. No yogurt maker required.

Speaking of dairy vs. soy, and lactose intolerance, Kefir cultures are good enough at colonizing the gut, if you start slowly and drink it several days a week, you can actually rebuild your gut flora and heal lactose intolerance, by making home-brewed Kefir a daily habit.

kefir-24-36-hr-thumb

Whole milk will produce a much tastier and richer brew than low-fat, and you can also add whipping cream for an almost dessert-like quality. It tastes a lot like yogurt, but the longer you ferment it (usually between 1 and 2 days is best) the more tart it becomes. Tangy 2-day brews have less lactose, and a higher number of healthy gut-bugs, so keep that in mind if you’re drinking it for GI benefits.

And here’s another tip: to make long ferments yummy, or just to satisfy your sweet tooth, you can always add Stevia, which is an all-natural sweetener made from the leaves of a South American plant. A little tiny bit goes a long way — just a quarter-pinch will do. Unlike sugar, Stevia won’t feed candida in your GI tract, or raise blood glucose levels if you’re diabetic.

?????

Another superfood that could help you find your inner Woodrat is raw, easy-to-make sauerkraut. It’s teeming with trillions of healthy bacteria per serving, much more than any probiotic, and it’s delicious, too. Purists make a good-sized batch (10 or so cabbages-worth) in stone crocks. This one I have at home, made in Poland. All it takes is a heavy-duty food processor or old-school shredder to chop the cabbage very finely, sprinkle some sea salt throughout, pack it into your crock tightly, and three weeks later it’s done.

Here’s a short video by fermentation guru Sandor Katz that shows how easy it is to make this delicious superfood, full of active enzymes.

Hooray for ‘kraut! πŸ™‚

If you’re good at making cultured foods, GHN Forums is offering you a 100% free place to set up your own group, and tell the world how to create these healing foods.

All you have to do is sign up, with a single click, via FB-Connect. Inside, you’ll find a growing community of health-conscious people using natural approaches to wellness. Hope to see you there. πŸ™‚

Advertisements

Heal Insomnia with Orange Lighting

Many of us who have damaged gut flora from antibiotics suffer from insomnia. I’ve had better sleep quality, where I became drowsy at appropriate times and had deep and restful sleep, after doing an antifungal protocol. Eating a lower carb diet, with plenty of cultured vegetables and homemade kefir, is also a big help. I’ve noticed both helminthic therapy, and FMT improved my sleep immediately. Indeed, adverse reactions to antibiotics can be so severe, we will take drastic measures to recapture elusive sleep.

However this article is about a very simple and effective protocol for healing insomnia, via a fascinating mechanism: manipulating the color temperature of all light seen after sundown into the orange/red spectrum. It turns out blue light, which we modern humans bathe ourselves in after dark, via computer and television screens, artificial lighting, and even traffic lights, stops production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 1.31.31 PM

This may be one reason shift workers have a higher incidence of heart disease, depression, diabetes and other health problems. There’s also evidence of reduced melatonin contributing to cancer.

I tried using orange goggles after dark, and the effect was virtually immediate. Eventually, I realized it was easier to download an app for my laptop called f.lux, which warms up the color temperature of the monitor during evening hours, and I added orange compact fluorescent bulbs to my bedroom. I’ve noticed now that even if my gut health is not optimal, I still have much better sleep quality than I did before implementing these measures.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 1.35.55 PM

Himalayan Salt Lamps are another interesting approach because in addition to an orange glow, they are purported to emit negative ions, and act as air purifiers. I haven’t tried one yet, but some users report relief from allergies and a pleasant smell when lit. Clearly, folks are enthusiastic about their salt lamps, as this one has a 5-star rating and nearly 2,500 reviews.

himalayan_salt_lamp.

I’m also experimenting lately with turning off my wifi at night. Some people go so far as to disable the main breakers to their house (tough to do with a refrigerator) and swear this makes an even bigger difference. For anyone who has been in the wilderness, and slept out under the stars, away from artificial light, you probably noticed your body responding favorably. Since many of us can’t take this step, perhaps the changes outlined above will be the next best thing.

What strategies are you using to unplug from technology, and how has it impacted your own sleep patterns or general healing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. πŸ™‚

If you enjoy this blog, you can support my work by buying things you need via this amazon portal HERE, or by purchasing any product linked in articles. It costs you nothing extra, and helps me continue writing. Thanks!

Heal Type 2 Diabetes with a Probiotic?

Recently, I’ve discovered the joys of butyrate for gut inflammation, when it stopped my last ulcerative colitis flare faster than steroids or Imuran, but it’s clear this short chain fatty acid (SCFA), which is created by gut bacteria as they ferment mostly vegetable fibers, is critical to protecting against colon cancer, leaky gut, and a variety of other conditions. What if anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory butyrate is also the key to healing diabetes, or rather, what if an absence of butyrate-generating gut flora may lead to dysregulation of blood glucose, and what if we could fix this?

Enter Clostridium Butyricum, a Japanese probiotic by the name Miyarisan Tablets, that actually generates butyrate! Of course it makes sense this soil-based bacteria might alsoΒ heal ulcerative colitis, but it has another wonderful feature: its ability to guard against deadly c. diff infections. In Japan, many people are given c. butyricum upon entry to a hospital, as a preventative for these dangerous and highly-contagious acquired infections. Yes, this probiotic is a true powerhouse.

Clostridium_butyricum

Back to metabolic issues, I read an article on Chris Kresser’s site where he noted low carb dieters tend to have higher blood glucose levels, because of induced insulin resistance. Here’s an additional hypothesis: I wonder if people with damaged flora seek out a paleo diet, since it’s less likely to aggravate their GI symptoms of carbohydrate intolerance. Furthermore, ancestral diets (in practice) tend to be higher in fats and animal protein and lower in vegetable fibers, so it makes sense these people would start out deficient in butyrate-generating flora, pre-paleo (perhaps due to antibiotics use or inherited altered flora), and continue to limit their butyrate generation through lower consumption of vegetable fibers. A growing interest in resistant starches seeks to address this, with dietary hacks that increase butyrate.

Are higher than normal fasting glucose levels static, or over a longer time frame are these people at risk for developing diabetes? And what if someone is already diabetic? Generally, low carb diets work for managing type 2, and resistant starch gets high marks for improving metabolic profiles, bifido strains or not. We’ve known for quite a while that cultured foods improve diabetes by limiting carbohydrate metabolism. Leading edge research is now figuring out gut flora transplants might even heal diabetes. But what if simply establishing a colon full of c. butyricum could provide some of these same benefits?

Another approach would be to use a probiotic developed for IBD, VSL #3, to brew a yogurt, which would boost the ranks of bacteria substantially and also make it totally active. Here’s a study that shows VSL #3 was both effective in increasing glucose tolerance and generating more butyrate. VSL is more complex than Miyarisan. It lists streptococcus thermophilus, bifidobacterium breve, bifidobacterium longum, bifidobacterium infantis, lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus plantarum (abundant in sauerkraut), lactobacillus paracasei, and lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus. When making a yogurt from this, it’s assumed these ratios would change, as not all bacteria would have the same growth rate in milk.

While it’s not likely to be a cure, could therapeutic doses of c. buytyricum,Β  or the blend of strains in VSL #3, halt rising glucose levels, or even improve numbers?

I aim to find out. My fasting glucose used to be perfect, but have been creeping higher since taking courses of fluoroquinolone antibiotics, like Cipro and Levaquin. Anyone can monitor their levels, using a glucose meter, so it should be easy to track results. I’ll try the Miyarisan Tablets in combination with VSL#3 in a ferment, for increased viability, and will be eating my tried and true resistant starches, which should boost good ole butyrate. Along the way, I predict ulcerative colitis will be banished from my gut, since I’ll be a prolific butyrate auto-generator for the first time in many years. Stay tuned!

Are you pre-diabetic or diabetic, and experimenting with probiotic foods and resistant starch? Do you use butyrate supplements for ulcerative colitis or crohn’s? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section, or at GHN on Facebook. We also have a dedicated group on Facebook for Healing or Avoiding Diabetes by Fixing the Gut. Thanks! πŸ™‚

GHN – Changing Things Up a Bit! :-)

Hello, everyone! Going forward, I’m planning to shift the format here at GHN to include shorter posts with links to breaking news related to the microbiome, and strategies for improving GI health. These will include related studies, whenever possible, and interconnected ideas from all the”self-experimenters” in our (rapidly expanding!) networks.

I realize many use this blog as a resource for troubleshooting your own health issues, and I want all of us to be able to A) cover a lot of ground, and B) reach our own conclusions.

I’ll continue to post articles about my own adventures with helminthic therapy (specifically necator americanus hookworm) cultured foods, various antimicrobials, and FMT, as events unfold and updates are warranted.

I am appreciating all your feedback, and wish WordPress was designed as a more interactive format. Comments tend to get buried in these blogs, visually, and that limits discussion, but please DO keep up your replies so we can all continue to learn from each other. πŸ™‚