Cultured Vegetables & GI Health

“All disease begins in the gut” – Hippocrates

The health of the gut is very important to the overall health of the body and an unhealthy gut contributes to many diseases.  One of the variables that determines gut health is the intestinal flora or the trillions of microorganisms (i.e. good bacteria) that live there. These microorganisms, among other things, promote GI function, protect from infections, regulate metabolism and contribute to immune system health.

Antibiotics, diets high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, food toxins, chronic stress and infections are some of the factors that contribute to an unhealthy gut.  One of the ways we can restore and/or maintain a healthy gut is by consuming foods that contain probiotics (various types of healthy bacteria). 

Fermented or cultured foods have very high levels of probiotics.  These healing foods, which include cultured vegetables, ought to be consumed daily.  During the fermentation process the microorganisms and enzymes that are naturally present on the vegetables proliferate, creating an enzyme-rich, mineral-rich super-food.

At first, fermenting foods may seem time-consuming, but it is a simple process and well worth the effort.  As an added benefit, fermented foods are far less expensive than probiotic supplements available in health food stores.

Below is a basic and super easy recipe from The Body Ecology Diet that I would like to share with you.  I personally prefer to culture green cabbage all on its own and then use it in various salads and cooked dishes, which I will be sure to share in the future. However, you can be creative and try combining cabbage with different vegetables (carrots, radish, dark leafy greens, etc.), dill, ginger, and/or garlic.  You can also add some sea salt even though it’s not required in this recipe. 

Ingredients

1 head of cabbage

1 cup filtered water

  1. Rinse all tools and glass jars with boiling water.
  2. Rinse the cabbage well and remove the large outer leaves (save for later use).
  3. Shred the cabbage, place in large bowl. 
  4. Remove about ½ cup of cabbage and place into a blender.
  5. Blend the cabbage with enough water (about 1 cup) to make a “brine” the consistency of a thick juice.  Add brine back into the bowl of cabbage.  Stir well.
  6. Pack the mixture tightly into air-tight, glass jars leaving no gaps.
  7. Add more water until the cabbage is completely covered leaving room at the top (about 2 inches) to allow cabbage to expand. 
  8. Roll up several cabbage leaves into tight logs and place on top to help keep the cabbage submerged and close the jar.
  9. Let sit at room temperature (about 70 degrees) for at least three days. I prefer to let mine sit for at least a week or longer.

You can taste it at different stages and decide for yourself. 

To slow down the fermentation process, store the cabbage in the refrigerator where it will keep for months without spoiling. Instead it will become even more delicious with time.