All About Fermentation
Given our founder Lucie's background, education and employment (read more here), we naturally care a huge amount about what our products do for our customers (like you - hello)!
In supermarkets today, you'll find so-called 'kombucha' sitting on shelves at room temperature, and sauerkraut packed into large glass bottles, where the product is pasteurised. There's nothing at all wrong with eating these things - but they don't aid the digestive system since there are no live bacteria present.
The truth is, if you want to look after your microbiome, it's important you make or buy fresh, raw & unpasteurised products that are kept refrigerated; this keeps the bacteria that's been nurtured in the production process alive, stable, healthy and under control.
At Bath Culture House we produce only raw & live products, that are hand-made by our small team in batches of 24-40. We take fresh ingredients, and using our in-house recipes, turn them into beacons of bacteria that, once eaten, can help rebuild the digestive system and improve your overall health. We don't add any 'live cultures' or 'bacteria'; these are typically grown in large European labs and added to the prepared ingredients, to speed along the fermentation process. We don't feel the need to do this - instead, we hand-massage the prepared vegetables to help multiply the bacteria present on the outside of the veg. The bacteria then multiplies over a period of around 2-3 weeks.
So, how does this all work? Allow us to introduce Sarah Cox, former employee at Bath Culture House and now registered nutritional therapist, with a small business called Brighter Nutrition. Here's what Sarah has to say...
So, what is the immune system?
Fermented foods are just incredible for your digestive health! In short, the immune system is a network of cells and proteins that defend the body against infection. It keeps a record of germs it has defeated so it can recognise and destroy that antigen again when it enters the body. This is done by making antibodies.
As well as the immune system, the body has several other ways to defend itself again unwanted microbes, namely:
- Skin: Secretes oils which kill bacteria,
- Lungs: Mucous on the lungs trap foreign particles ready to be coughed out,
- Digestive tract: Mucous linings contain antibodies and stomach acid kills bacteria.
Let’s focus on the digestive tract:
The digestive tract contains 70% of the cells that make up your immune system and acts as a first line of defence to invading microbes. Certain cells in the lining of the gut spend their lives excreting huge quantities of antibodies into the gut in order to kill viruses and bacteria.
We have a large amount of beneficial/good bacteria living in our large intestines. These bacteria have lots of roles to play including producing vitamin K and B-vitamins, producing energy for the cells in the digestive tract, breaking down fibre, and more!
This good bacterium helps to modulate the immune system; they teach it that it doesn’t have to overreact to everything (as seen in conditions such as eczema and hay fever). It also takes up space so there is less room for unwanted bacteria and yeasts to multiply.
The beneficial bacteria in our guts also help to maintain our mucosal membranes, which is where our immune cells live. So they are pretty important!
What can go wrong with the gut?
Lots can go wrong with the health of the gut and our modern way of living has caused many health issues. The food we eat is often very refined, we eat too much sugar and compared with how our grandparents ate, the food we now eat has become very unnatural.
There are lots of medications that can cause damage to the digestive tract, including antibiotics which not only wipe out our bad bacteria but also the good bacteria.
The diets we eat nowadays are also very low in bitter foods and important minerals like zinc and digestive enzymes. This can lead to low stomach acid and reduced digestive power, which means food sits in the stomach for too long, causing pain, bloating and flatulence.
If we have an imbalance of bacteria, opportunistic bacteria and yeasts take hold in the gut and begin to replicate. They then start to feed on food which is fermenting in the gut and release gasses which can cause bloating, flatulence and pain. They also start to push the good bacteria out and we see a picture of imbalance.
Parasites are another common thing that we find in the gut which can lead to digestive disorders, bloating, pain and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
What can we do?
So how can we look after the health of our digestive tracts, and our immunity?
Sugar is known to slow the activity of our immune cells; it causes them to become sleepy. So reducing sugar is the first important step. We need to look out for hidden sugars in sauces, beans, cereals and so on. Eating home cooked food ensures we know what we are eating so doing this when we can is a great way to improve our health.
Sugar also feeds nasty bacteria in the gut so the less we have in our diets the more likely we will have a balanced microbiome.
Eating a variety of vegetables will result in a wider range of beneficial bacteria. Different bacteria like to consume different foods, so variation is important.
You can do this by eating a ‘rainbow’ diet. These foods are also high in nutrients that support our immune systems such as vitamin C and antioxidants. We can include the rainbow by eating foods such as beetroot, broccoli, carrots, butternut squash, red peppers, red cabbage, leeks, celeriac, aubergine, kale, blueberries - the list goes on!
Fibre helps to keep the digestive tract moving, as well as feeding some of the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Include foods like barley, oats, flaxseeds, apples, brown rice, and lots of vegetables!
Certain vegetables are rich in prebiotic fibres which feed our good bacteria. These include onions, leeks, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy and brussels sprouts.
Probiotic foods such as fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria. Fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir and we can include these foods regularly to help to maintain our digestive health, and our immunity.
You might choose to add some sauerkraut to your plate at lunch time, or make some noodles and kimchi for dinner. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink which can be drunk daily to add these wonderful bacteria to your diet.
For more ideas on how to use fermented foods in your cooking, check out the recipes on this website.
Note: If you suffer with acid reflux this may indicate you have an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, which we don’t want. Fermented foods can irritate this so it would be worth speaking to a practitioner, like me!
If you suffer with ongoing digestive issues and would like more support, why not download my FREE EBOOK?! It’s called ‘Beat the Bloat’ - Simple solutions to bloating and pain. Click here to download your free copy.