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How to make Kombucha, the Immortal Health Elixir…

Kombucha is one of my favourite drink. It is so refreshing and on top of it is rich in healthy bacteria, probiotics and antioxidants. Probiotics are essential for our gut health. We know that eighty per cent of our immune system is located in the gut, which means promoting gut health is critical. One way to do that is drinking Kombucha regularly. You can find Kombucha easily in health food stores.

I love to make my own, as it is a surprisingly simple process, so I wanted to show you how to do it at home.

What you need:

1 Kombucha culture / S.C.O.B.Y (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) you can order it from https://happykombucha.co.uk

A glass container, which holds 2.5L of water

2 litres of filtered water

6–8 tea bags, preferably organic tea bags (black, green, white or oolong)

160-190g organic granulated cane sugar or sugar

muslin cloth and elastic band to cover your jar

How to brew your Kombucha:

Before you start making your Kombucha make sure you sterilise all your equipment (you can simply use boiling water or white vinegar).

Please make sure that your Kombucha does not come into contact with metal.

Boil 2 litres of filtered water. Remove it from the heat. Put 6-8 tea bags into a heatproof container, leave it 10-20 minutes and then add 160-190 grams of sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

Make sure your tea is cool, room temperature (I usually stick my little finger into the tea to check the temperature), then add your S.C.O.B.Y and starter liquid to the jar.

Cover with the cloth and place in a warm dark place, never on the sunlight (ideally between 23 and 27°C) for 7-30 days. Warmer temperature (24-27°C) means faster fermentation. Colder temperature (21-23°C) means slower fermentation. Never ferment above 30°C as your brew will become unbalanced.

Keep your Kombucha away from bin and flowering plants.

If you find mould, you must toss the entire batch of tea and S.C.O.B.Y away and start over.

Taste your brew after about 5 days to see how the fermentation is going.

As with other fermented foods, your Kombucha is ready, when you like the taste. When you taste it, it should still have a bit of sweetness to it and a pleasant amount of acidity. If you want it to be more acidic, then keep fermenting it longer. If it tastes sour enough, then you’re ready to bottle.

When you are bottling your Kombucha make sure you leave your S.C.O.B.Y sitting in a small amount of the brew in its brewing jar, not less than 1/4 of the jar to start the next brew.

Fill up the bottles about 3/4 of the way with your Kombucha. Add the chopped up fruit or fruit juice (see below “How to flavour your Kombucha”). Leave the bottle at room temperature for at least 3 days, each day “burping” the bottle to remove pressure (opening the cap, letting out C02 than putting the cap back on)

After 3 days you can taste the kombucha and see if it is fizzy enough for you, the longer you leave it, the fizzier it will get. When you like the taste and fizziness your Kombucha is ready.

Congratulations! Put it in a fridge and drink it after a few hours.

I love to drink my Kombucha cold and fizzy with some ice, but sometimes fizziness is inconsistent, when it comes to home brewing, if that happens you can add a bit of sparkling water.

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S.C.O.B.Y

How to flavour your Kombucha:

You can get very creative, the flavour options are endless. From fresh berries, citrus fruits, herbs, spices, you can even add vegetables to create unique Kombucha flavours.

Put a cup of fruit (berries, ginger, pineapple, mango etc.) to a blender, blend it until smooth and pour it to your bottles.

How long does it last?

Your refrigerated Kombucha will last indefinitely as it’s acidic enough to protect it from outside contaminants.

I usually prefer to drink my Kombucha within 5 days of opening a bottle.

How to keep my S.C.O.B.Y safe while I am travelling?

Just leave your SCOBY in the tea in a big jar for up to 6 weeks.

She will be fine. The kombucha will be quite vinegary, but you can use it for cleaning etc. When you return, brew as usual.

How to stay hydrated

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The sun is shining and the ongoing heatwave brought record temperatures to England. Many of us are suffering from a loss of appetite, which could leave us feeling unwell during the hotter temperatures. Should we amend our food and drink habits to factor in the heat?

The most important thing you can do is to drink more water than you usually do because you are losing fluids through sweat. There are many different opinions on how much water you should be drinking every day. Health authorities commonly recommend eight 8 glasses, which equals about 2 litres of water a day. If you are outside or exercising during the heatwave drink two to four cups of water every hour. Don’t wait until you are thirsty, by then, you are already becoming dehydrated. 

Did you know that foods account for around 20-30% of our fluid intake, and there is food that contains more water than others? We should think about eating more of the following fruits and vegetables to boost the body's hydration levels and replenish lost electrolytes.

•    cucumber
•    courgettes
•    celery
•    lettuce
•    melon
•    coconut water
•    oranges
•    grapefruits
•    pineapple
•    berries
•    bananas
•    grapes
•    kiwi
•    bell peppers
•    carrots
•    tomatoes
•    radishes
•    broccoli
These hydrating fruits and vegetables are full of important electrolytes like magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium. Eating plenty of these foods will help you to maintain fluid balance.

Fermenting

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Growing up in a small village in Slovakia taught me to appreciate nature and great food. Since I remember, my family eats seasonal fruits and vegetables, mainly from our garden.  During the summer we enjoy the fresh produce but we also make sure we preserve it for the winter.

Freezing, drying, fermenting and pickling foods are such a fun activity during harvest season, and there is nothing more amazing then opening a jar of goodness mid-winter from the previous summer.

Fermentation is one of the oldest methods of food preservations. Food was not just preserved for winter, droughts or migration, but also because these were considered as healing medicine beneficial to the body. Fermented foods play an important role in gut health and growth of good bacteria. Enrichment of substrates with vitamins, essential amino acids, and bioactive compounds occur during food fermentation. Active bacteria, yeast turn these foods into rich sources of Vitamin K, A, B12, thiamine, niacin, and protein-building acids like lysine and methionine. It contains probiotics, antioxidants, increases absorption of vitamins.

Sauerkraut is one of the most common and oldest forms of preserving cabbage and can be traced back as a food source to the 4th century BC.

Recipe:

1 medium head green cabbage

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)

  1. When fermenting, start off with cleaning all the equipments. Make sure all your jars are washed and rinsed of all soap residue.

  2. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage. Slice the cabbage into very thin ribbons.

  3. Transfer the cabbage to a big mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over top. Start massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. After 5 to 10 minutes the cabbage will become watery. If you want add the seeds and mix it together.

  4. Pack the cabbage into the jar. Every so often, tamp down the cabbage in the jar with your fist. Pour any liquid released into the jar.

  5. Weigh the cabbage down with marbles or stones.

  6. Cover the jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band or twine. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar, but prevents dust or insects from getting into the jar.

  7. Over the next 24 hours, keep pressing down the cabbage. If after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and pour it on the cabbage.

  8. Ferment the cabbage for 3 to 10 days, keep it away from direct sunlight and leave it out on room temperature. When the sauerkraut tastes good, screw on the cap, and refrigerate it.

  9. While it's fermenting, you may see bubbles coming through the cabbage, foam on the top, or white scum. These are all signs normal fermentation process. If you see any mold, get rid off the old but the rest of the sauerkraut is fine.

  10. You can keep it for two months in the frigerator as long as it still tastes and smells good to eat.

Further Reading:

Sandor Ellix Katz: Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wild-Fermentation-Flavor-Nutrition-Live-Culture/dp/1603586288/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_t_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=38WTC36KZ9T2EB44FCZV

Sandor Ellix Katz: The Art of Fermentation: An In-depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Art-Fermentation-depth-Exploration-Essential/dp/160358286X

References: 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25568828/

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4844621/

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4844621/

 

Gut. Meet the body’s most ignored and undervalued organ!

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"All disease begins in the gut", once stated Hippocrates (AKA the “father of Medicine”) in 400 BC. However only now recent studies are starting to show how this part of our body is responsible for more than just a dirty work. 
 
But what is exactly the gut, and why is it so important?
The gut is the largest mucosal organ in the body. As a matter of fact, it is a collection of organs that includes the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum. We know that the gut serves many essential roles in sustaining and protecting our health - through the intake and absorption of nutrients and water, our digestive process that provides the fuel the body needs to live, to function, and to stay healthy. 

Recent research has discovered the positive impact of the bacterial ecosystem microbiota or microbiome living within our bodies mostly within our guts. The collective human gut microflora is composed of tens of trillions of microorganisms, including at least 35000 bacterial species of known bacteria with more than 3 million genes (150 times more than human genes) but also other microbes such as fungi, viruses, and protozoans, in total, weigh up to 2 kg. 

We're starting to see is that the ecology of the microbiome is vitally important to our health and wellbeing, but there is still a lot to learn and discover. We know that one-third of our gut microbiota is common to most people, while two-thirds are specific to each one of us. That means that every single person microbiota is different. It is largely determined by our environment, our lifestyle and diet. Our microbiota is interacting not only with the food we eat but also with each other and with us. 

When in harmonious balance they are actually beneficial and largely responsible for our overall health:  
•    Allow complete digestion and absorption of nutrition, that the stomach and small intestine have not been able too including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and antioxidants
•    Helping to produce hormones
•    Influence our immune system
•    Prevent us from the overgrowth of bacteria, viruses and fungi which can make us unwell
•    Synthesis of vitamin K and several components of vitamin B

So what disrupt the microbiome? 
Unfortunately, there are all sorts of factors that can disrupt the microbiome, including infections, toxin exposure (mercury, pesticides, chemicals and BPA), age, medication, antibiotic overuse, high amount of stress, consuming poor diet, excess sugar, alcohol, gluten, smoking cigarette.
When the gut microbiome is disrupted the unfriendly bacteria become dominant, this called dysbiosis of the gut. How do you know, whether you have too many unfriendly bacteria? The signs of dysbiosis are nonspecific and could be the onset of many conditions such as:
•    Allergies
•    Asthma
•    Bloating
•    Diabetes
•    Cancer
•    Skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis
•    Autoimmune Diseases
•    Obesity & Weight Gain
•    Depression
•    Fatigue and low energy
•    Achy joints and muscular pains, Arthritis and the list goes on.
 
Fixing the gut can be the first and most important step we can take to get better. Here are a few easy strategies to support your gut health:

Remove
Diets consisting of sugar and artificial sweeteners, fast food and processed food have been associated with increased intestinal permeability and depressive symptoms, in contrary, diets rich in vegetables, fruit and fish are associated with lower depressive symptoms. 
Remove allergens. Research has shown an increase in gut-friendly bacteria on a gluten-free diet. 
 
Increase Probiotic:
Fermented foods such as kefir, yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and cultured beverages like kombucha and coconut water kefir, containing favourable live bacteria, that may beneficially regulate intestinal health. Increasing this types of foods in your diet is very beneficial for your gut health. If you are struggling to add probiotic foods in your diet a good probiotic supplement always can help deliver billions of these healthy bugs to where they’re needed in order to maintain good gut balance.

Increase Prebiotic:
While the best probiotic foods are essential for gut health and overall well-being, prebiotics help “feed” probiotics. By having them together, you can achieve an even better result. Eating a diet high in prebiotics such as soybeans, barley, raw oats, raw asparagus, artichokes, raw onion or cooked, raw garlic, raw leeks resulted in an increase in microbiota gene richness. 
 
Mediterranian diet:
Across the spectrum, the Mediterranean diet is highly regarded as a healthy balanced diet. The Mediterranian diet includes higher intake of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts; moderate consumption of fish, poultry, and red wine; and a lower intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meat. 

Bone Broth:
Bone Broth is rich in minerals that support the immune system and contains healing compounds like collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline. It heals your gut lining and reduces intestinal inflammation.
 
Reduce Stress:
Research shows that stress can cause dysbiosis, and it has been associated with an increase in gut permeability. Although we cannot eliminate stress, we definitely can manage it.
Meditation, breathing exercises, spending time in nature, walking, spending quality time with loved ones and having fun helps regulate the stress response. Scheduling these activities in your daily routine not just helps to deal with a stressful situation in a much better way but also suppressing chronic inflammation states and maintaining a healthy gut-barrier function. 

Exercise:
Being active has been shown to have many health benefits, both physically and mentally. It not just make you happier and healthier, but It may even help you live longer. 
Numerous research shows that exercise support digestion also it can enrich the gut microbial composition. 

Sleep:
Scientists investigating the relationship between sleep and the microbiome are finding that this microbial ecosystem may affect sleep and sleep-related physiological functions

Further Reading:

Giulia Enders Gut: the inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gut-inside-story-bodys-under-rated/dp/1922247960                                        

Jeannette Hyde: The Gut Makeover: 4 Weeks to Nourish Your Gut, Revolutionise Your Health and Lose Weight   https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gut-Makeover-Nourish-Revolutionise-Health/dp/1784297747/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1524503207&sr=1-1&keywords=the+gut+makeover                                                                                 

References:

  1. https://med.nyu.edu/medicine/gastro/about-us/gastroenterology-news-archive/your-gut-feeling-healthier-digestive-system-means-healthier

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4528021/

  3. http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/about-gut-microbiota-info/

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4838534/

  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440529/

  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604320/

  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5385025/

  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5385025/

  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5385025/

  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5385025/

  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5045149/

  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604320/

  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29306937/

  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5357536/

  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29031742/

  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5441385/