I have heard the terms prebiotics and probiotics pretty regularly since my teen years, so I have always assumed that they, along with the gut microbiome they contribute to were – in a way – old news, as in, well understood by the medical community. In an effort to get a deeper understanding of the healthy gut & fermentation, I signed myself up for a class with Stacey Clinesmith of Your Beeting Heart. Stacey is a self proclaimed homesteader “lite” and avid fermentation fiend. If you met with her in person, she would happily admit to having a few science experiments (aka fermentation/bacteria growing projects) sitting on her own kitchen counter at a time.
As Stacey started her 2.5 hour class, she shared that the gut micro biome was discovered – and thus the official study and science of it began – in the 1990’s…..WHAT?!!!!! It turns out that the bacteria that live in our gut outnumber our human body cells 10:1 – an astonishing figure. Imbalances between “good” and “bad” bacteria have been linked in studies to a variety of diseases: from obesity to Alzheimer’s and autoimmune diseases. A good balance can contribute to anxiety reduction and mental health issues. Like so many discoveries made surrounding the topic of food and related systems, the answer to why older and more developed cultures have had a fermentation component within their diets for centuries are just now starting to be understood by science.
If you do get the chance to attend this class, expect to cover a variety of related topics, such as, but not limited to: what are probiotics and prebiotics, why both are necessary, how fermented foods heal, hands on time starting out both your own sauerkraut fermentation project and prebiotic bread, including necessary equipment and many tips for future success and invention, along with resources for local resources to explore in your effort in feeding yourself well. One bit of information I found very interesting (considering the future birth of a baby girl!) is that the oligosaccharides in mother’s milk which are not able to be broken down and used as energy for the newborn had really stumped scientists – until they discovered that it was being used to encourage appropriate growth of babies own healthy gut bacteria. How amazing is that!
Along with the Life-Changing Loaf of Bread, I chose to prepare the Cinnamon & Raisin Kraut recipe in class. I was intrigued by it because due to the inclusion of apple, cinnamon and raisin, its flavor is almost sweet and far less tangy than a traditional sauerkraut recipe. Just today – 24 days later – I chose to end the bacteria growth by storing it in the fridge. This particular kraut recipe would be great on a simply prepared white fish, in a grilled cheese sandwich or mixed into a green salad. I recently remade the bread, which ends up being a dense loaf, great toasted with a spread of your choice (nut butters, hummus, butter, etc.) or used as a base for an open faced sandwich.
**I have not been compensated for this review – I had an interest in learning more about this topic & wrote this post in order to share my experience.