Elle Fox | Ep #52 | What’s Fermenting there?



dartif integrative and preventive healthcare the content discussed in this episode is for informative purposes only and should not be replaced by individualized professional

consultations or professional medical advice hey guys i’m tasha hey listeners this is gooney and we’re here to discuss lifestyle medicine i’m that person who’s going to be picking the overpriced kombucha over mimosa with one of these lattes those fancy lightest and let’s be honest even though i pick it i know it’s not tasty listen i am guilty as charged when it comes to overpriced hipster kombucha you know in my old like crossfit gym they used to sell them and i’m like yeah i want to be in alignment with the branding of this place so let me buy the kombucha that cost like 16 bucks and i’m just like oh this is so like acidic i don’t know how i’m going to finish this but i already paid for it so guzzle it down but it’s kind of commonly known for gut flora yeah well this is this is the thing like i know it’s meant to be good but obviously when it’s acidic i’m just like oh i remember the feeling of taking like apple cider vinegar i’m like oh this must be good for you because it doesn’t taste that great so it must be great for your body but i think that we need to bust this myth if it is a myth yeah i definitely want to get to the root of the the this buzz drink and i guess understand like fermented foods as a whole like how is it good for us it really ties in with the person we want to speak to today um which is el fox she is a naturopath an author a researcher with a background in medicine and also a lecturer with 30 years of experience treating people with gastrointestinal and behavioral challenges she’s also very passionate about locally grown food and regenerative farming so welcome to dr the podcast l we are excited to dive into this conversation today i am so excited to be here thank you for inviting me so welcome welcome elle so i’m wondering enlighten us what are fermented foods well fermented foods and drinks are as old as the hills who have been subjected to what i would call a controlled microbial breakdown so basically food has been encouraged to grow specific kinds of bacteria and yeast they’ve been in the human diet forever and also if you look at traditional cultures places like korea for example where kimchi is a national dish nani is a jew is a fruit in a hawaiian fruit which is fermented as a as a herbal beetroot grass is a ukrainian dish and if we go back in time the central russian steppe people survive survived and thrived on a diet of what it is called kumis which is fermented mare’s milk and it is described as champagne mixed with sour cream interesting yeah i’m not sure if i like it but i like wild taste fermented foods are an acquired taste but i will give you some fermented foods that we all eat and drink so uh sour cream is fermented yogurt is fermented sourdough bread is a product of fermentation um wine beer mead yes sauerkraut and kimchi which have become buzzwords are they all healthy though define healthy see this is why we’re having this conversation and because we’ve come to a point where we conclude that kombuchas and these kimchis etc are healthy foods too much of a good thing is not a good thing i had a friend who got a jar of kimchi and she sat and ate half a kilogram of kimchi in one go because she loves it so much yeah if i had rice with it yeah i love kimchi okay sorry so we interrupted you what was the risk here of of your friend having this half a kilogram of kimchi um she had a few trips to the loo there was no long term oh yeah that’s right okay so it was just a case of a bit like having too much of of anything to be honest if you have too much alcohol you will either vomit or you will have diarrhea or a combination of i know you said there’s no good or bad but then there are foods that we eat like uh you know sourdough bread and then also in wine and beer so these foods they’re known to not be great for you there are studies that say you know too much alcohol is not good for you right and so because the process is the same so what how do we differentiate that it’s something we should take or not and okay it’s not the same process because commercial wines are nothing like what we would call a natural wine a natural wine still contains the microbial cultures so it can be cloudy for example and it very likely does not contain sulfites and preservatives and all sorts of other things which are detrimental to our gut there’s a difference between having a glass of natural wine to increase your variety of drinks and getting you know entirely drunk on anything basically saying yeah go on i have to drink as long as you do it in moderation um i have taken quite a few people off alcohol people who are addicted to alcohol i mean yeah again so you’re on another spectrum of your relationship with that yes how do you take somebody off an addiction like that which can be extremely detrimental to their health right first of all you don’t say right you’re going dry some people can do that please don’t get me wrong but the majority of people cannot withdraw from an addiction that has been going on for a while so what i suggest first of all to those people is find the best quality wine you can you can buy ideally biodynamic because that is the best possible quality that you can find and then have a glass and enjoy every minute of it because as far as i’m concerned addiction is one tenth and the nine tenths of the guilt right and we keep on top of it so being present as you drink and just enjoy that drink and the guilt of it the mindset around it as well that affects how you process it right yeah coming back to the benefits of fermented foods can you shed some light to why is it so popularized now and become mainstream that you know we have to have more probiotics more fermented foods in our diet okay well fermentation is a process of preserving food so that it doesn’t spoil without refrigeration so if you look at traditional cultures uh unless you lived somewhere up in the arctic you didn’t have ice or low enough temperatures to preserve food so cheese as a result of fermentation right so it’s a preservation method by encouraging certain groups of bacteria and yeasts to proliferate and as a result they do not allow pathogenic or what we would call bad bacteria so for example e coli which we have come to fear it exists in a healthy gut it’s the number of e coli which can become pathogenic which is why i try to avoid saying good bad it’s pathogenic or beneficial there is also increasing research that fermented foods have a variety of benefits including increasing the amount of the nutrients that we can take from the food and increasing the nutrition and content of food so if you ferment cabbage in the sauerkraut you increase the amount of vitamin c by 10 times and because of refrigeration and certain other modern preservation methods which include preservatives chemicals we have become sanitized our gut bacteria have reduced in numbers now we have got trillions and trillions of microorganisms in our gut and there is researchers to show that on top of the fact that we’ve got trillions of microorganisms in our gut and they contain yeasts viruses um all sorts of things lactobacilli and with the bacteria certain bacterial strains that come from fermentation um have a beneficial result if they’re given to babies with eczema some of this research has been done with the strains of bacteria themselves not fermented foods necessarily right so i’m wondering are fermented foods suitable for children is it maybe too aggressive for their their gut lining um basically can their stomach take it um fermented foods are not aggressive to the lining of what fermented foods do is they increase our ability to digest food and and take nutrients there is a term in uh medicine called bioavailability so that is the ability of our body it’s not what we eat is what we absorb from the food we eat and there is a whole load of reasons why we would absorb less of something or more of something else and if we agree that we start on the same baseline which is good locally produced freshly prepared food then how we absorb that food is entirely dependent on how healthy our gut is and after so many years of antibiotics and other medical interventions we have got compromised guts i mean if we just look at the hygiene hypothesis that says that you know we’re too sanitized and we haven’t got enough bacteria around us uh and in us and that’s why we have allergies and then you see that children who suffer with allergies and food intolerances and things like that i actually need fermented foods the caveat i would put here is that if children have not been exposed to fermented foods they need to be introduced very slowly because otherwise they will throw a reaction like with anything so a short short answer fermented foods are suitable for children do you have any examples with with your clients of kind of the effects and benefits of it yes i do um my whole practice is revolved revolving around supporting people’s gastrointestinal problems and the associated behavioral issues um and that is from babies all the way to older people because we all eat we’ll need to eat and we all need to have a functional gut to be able to eat and absorb our food properly and our moods are very much affected i mean recently there have been papers that say that chronic fatigue is not a mental issue it is a gastrointestinal issue you said behavioral issues um could you clarify so for example we see some children that appear to be shy um particularly if children have got significant spectrum issues them or being on the spectrum yeah yeah we say that they do not engage socially one of the issues that you see in behaviors like that is that they will hide they will look at you out of the corner of their eye rather than face on and that is considered the mental and an emotional challenge that those children cannot socialize enough but there’s been research that shows if you supplement children like that with vitamin a they will i think it’s a very very high percentage almost like 50 percent the behavior will diminish and the children will be able to engage face on now one of the issues we have with vitamin a is a substance which helps the integrity and health of the eye tissue it’s paramount so you have things like carotenoids carrots you know traditionally we talk about carrots you know eat carrots because they help your vision so we’ve got substances in carrots what we call pro-vitamin a so we supplement with vitamin a and the child’s behavior changes now we we have we have made a nutritional intervention that changes the behavior what this fact has been found is that a lot of those children their eye tissue is not healthy enough and you supplement with a substance which supports the eye tissue then the eye tissue starts functioning better so the behavior changes interesting can you find vitamin a in fermented foods yes fermented cod liver oil for example is a fish oils are very high in vitamin a the sourdough bread would probably be high in vitamin e because um wheat germ is very high in vitamin e i’ll give you another example but you you’ve got people that are gluten have to be gluten free so i am i’m sensitive to gluten and dairy but i’m happy drinking raw milk that has not been pasteurized and i’m very happily eat sourdough bread because the microorganisms that are in the starter the sourdough starter digest a lot of the gluten in the dough so there is very little gluten left at the end of the process a traditional bread would take between 24 and 48 hours from the moment you start needing to eating it uh do you know how long it takes for supermarket bread from the moment it’s milk to the hitting the shelf tell us two and a half hours yeah so there’s there’s no time there is a it’s called the charlie wood method it’s a method that was actually um invented by the british in charlie wood hence the name and was exported to the rest of the world and it’s a specific strains of bacteria that very quickly make the bread rise it’s a particular type of yeast um combination bacterial yeasts so there is no time for the the proper traditional microorganisms to help the gluten go be eaten by them that takes that longer period so how do you know the quality of your yeast is actually the good kind of quality because now there’s a lot of um manufactured yeast right so you can actually make your own sourdough starter at home with flour and water that’s all you need what happens is remember the when we said at the beginning that the fermentation is a controlled process so what we do is we want to encourage the bacteria and yeasts we want into the ferment and not the pathogenic ones so when you mix flour and water and you leave it on the counter at the side of your kitchen the idea is that you encourage the natural microorganisms that are in the environment to come in and take set up home in your sourdough starter and that’s that’s what happens in a in a clean environment when i say clean i mean you know a home that has hasn’t got molds and is aired properly and it doesn’t is not near a main road and if you’ve got a reasonably healthy home environment you will develop a healthy sourdough starter and then you can use that to make bread i never really like realized that actually you know as you’re getting your bread to ferment or get those yeast up that you’re also inviting the chemicals in the air to be hosted there everything that comes from the the floor of the woods which is forever in fermentations mushrooms are a result of fermentation and they produce fermentation themselves and there is a particular micro mic bacterium found in nature called mycobacterium vaca which produces positive feelings which is researchers have found that if you take a 20 minute walk in nature because you breathe these bacteria in they produce a positive feeling in you so what we are seeing is that the microbial world affects our moods so it will affect our behavior and there is enough evidence to show that this is true earlier you were saying that the there’s a term you use i can’t remember right now bio or something basically bio availability bio availability so do you are usually are you saying that with fermented foods uh you’re in you’re creating a better and more healthy gut uh bacteria in your body and so does that mean that when that is happening whatever nutri nutrients from foods that you eat is absorbed better and you’re able to digest and like actually get the most out of it absolutely i will give you a funny a slightly funny example um my husband uh used to work up in canary wharf and at lunchtime occasionally if he didn’t pack a lunch from home he because he likes falafels there was a little pop-up that made falafels so he would have falafels i always knew when he had falafels because he became rather windy yeah okay if he has my falafels he’s never windy but my falafels are made with chickpea flour which has been fermented chickpeas have been fermented and then the flowers made from the chickpeas which have been fermented so that they have been almost pre-digested for him so they have been made more available because gas in the intestines means that the food is sitting there fermenting because the intestine is not able to take as our gut is designed to take as much nutrition out of the food we just and it’s true that you see the difference of windiness you’re taking the the chickpeas from the can or when you make that when you let them sit in to water for a day or two so it’s like really it really changes a lot of how how you process your food before cooking it even before eating it it’s absolutely everything ever it’s everything in the detail right and i’ll tell you i let i i’m not suggesting this to people who are just starting now with fermentation i ferment my chickpeas for a week in milk kefir oh wow okay as i said i do not suggest anyone does this unless they know what they’re doing okay but a day or two in if you take chickpeas from dry and you put them in a big bowl of purified water you can use another ferment like kombucha or kefir whether it’s milk or water right or apple cider vinegar and you add that to the water and you let them sit in there in that water for one or two days um and then you cook them to circle back to our initial conversation about this overpriced kombuchas and fancy brunch at hipster cafes how can we make our own kombucha at home um you need what is called the scoby now scoby is an acronym so it’s the first letter of these words which are symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts so symbiotic means living in harmony so a kombucha scoby is looks like a pancake a bit of a pancake it’s like a fine pancake or you might have heard of it as a kombucha mushroom um you can buy them or you can be gifted them because they grow like topsy you know if i if i should have brought my my my scoby hotel to show you how many scoobies i have so if you find somebody to gift you a healthy scoby then you can literally feed it tea sweet black tea so that’s your basic future by sweets what do you mean um bacteria and yeasts that we use for fermentation need to eat so their food is usually sugars and we’ve got two different types of fermentation and um what we call aerobic fermentation so it’s open to the air like we were talking about sourdough you know right flour and water open to the elements kind of thing i mean yes you put you put like a muslin on top to stop dust and insects but it is effectively it’s not sealed away from the environment right okay so that’s what we call aerobic fermentation and that is what produces vinegar now if you have what we call anaerobic fermentation which means without air what you do is you produce a sealed environment for a ferment so this is how you make um kimchi and sauerkraut so you need the sugar because that’s how you feed the scoby so if you make the tea the tannins in the tea and the sugar are eaten by the bacteria in the yeasts and you it produces this fizzy slightly fizzy slightly alcoholic um beverage and when i say alcoholic i mean we talk about 0.04 of a percent so you make kombucha by making a nice pot of tea right and then plopping in the cold sweet tea a scoby and leaving it to ferment for a few days okay a few days are we talking three days are we talking a week depends on the size of the scoby and whether it’s your first fermentation or more than that so initially if you have a new scoby and you put it in in tea it will take more days to kick start the fermentation the other thing that you have to take into consideration is the time of year so spring and summer because obviously of the time of year but um bacteria and yeasts are more they’re able to be more active so you get a shorter fermentation time right but does the solution continues fermenting once you’re kind of done yeah in the process it will become it will become very acidic and very vinegary so there’s like a best before type of thing right well it’s not no it’s just different what happens is obviously depending on the solution um the the amount of sugar in the drink you can have a sweeter kombucha which is a bit higher in sugar because the bacterial yeasts have not eaten all of it or you can have a more acidic a sharper kombucha some people prefer the sharper taste some people prefer the sweeter taste and what you can do is afterwards when you’ve got it to where you want it as far as your tastes are concerned you can take this kombucha and you can flavor it with berries citrus so you do what we call a second fermentation that does not involve the scoby the scoby has cannot have anything else in in the solution except the sugar and the uh water the tea okay that does require a full on course to actually know how to do your own kombucha but that sparked enough interest for me to actually start looking into this it’s not a cheap hobby it’s a good one that’s a good thing to mention like how much are we talking about well it depends if you want to make um normal kombucha what i would suggest is that you have the best quality tea you can you can buy so organic tea pure water because they really don’t like chlorine and chlorine is not the only thing that’s in our tap water but we won’t go into that so um you need to have a filter that takes out chlorine and heavy metals and all sorts of other things and then you need organic sugar right okay so in some ways but then you are in full control of what you’re going to be drinking at the end exactly it goes back to one of our conversation about you know being conscious and what you eat and and having like full understanding of what is what you’re going to be putting in your system and the other thing that’s important to keep in mind is the the load of microbes in your environment already so people who have got black mold or damp find it very hard to produce a healthy ferment i was gonna say like when you’re talking about like it’s not um a cheap hobby to have because first of all you need to as you said filtered water then your your sugar that the organic tea and then you need to control your environment you need to have space i guess as well uh you need to have those jars and so all of this kind of make you think twice before you actually go and do your own but i think that the very it’s um because it’s so empowering to be able to do your own because like you have a control over you have an understanding of what you’re putting in your system and you have like okay so if this is not good for drinking you can use it for something else so it’s like it has it’s a multiple multi-purpose um function so again you’re just empowering your day-to-day uh nutrition nutrition skills yeah and the scope is because they grow they will grow um so what you can do with the scope is is you can take the old scobies out and you can dehydrate them and turn them into jelly bits you can cut them up and they can become probiotic jellies for children or adults or if you have chickens you give them to your chickens have you ever seen a chicken going after scoby yeah yeah you’re giving us so many multiple application of and that’s the beauty of it of fermented food and how you can actually it’s it’s endless but i think that that is actually a good way for us to to close off as well because then people now can go and do their own research and figure out what they want to venture into right so before we close off uh we always have our uh rapid fire questions so el um i’ll go with the first question to get to know you better what is the first sign that you are out of balance the first time that you’re out of balance is i’m not often out of balance these days lucky you lucky you um i tend to feel tired that’s my first sign of oh i haven’t had enough water you know water is a big one one of those coping mechanism is water do you have a another kind of magical trick to to fight fatigue um i use the remedies that are flower remedies that i use there is one called dynamis if i really need to power through something it’s a flower remedy a bit like you know rescue remedy if you like it’s not made by that company um there’s one particular remedy that i use which is called dynamis um or i will get up i will stop normally what i do is i put my timer on for one hour increments and when the timer goes i will get up if i’m plowing through research or something like that i will get up have a glass of water have a walk in the garden some sunshine and the other thing is walking barefoot on the grass for me does it nice so i don’t resort to coffee or um i i love a cup of coffee please don’t get me wrong but it’s i don’t use them as crutches for my lack of energy i don’t often have ups and downs but that’s because i eat well i sleep well um i’m very careful with my personal hygiene if you like and when i say hygiene i mean i’m talking about cleanliness only i’m talking about energy and yeah your your lifestyle my life’s yeah thank you yes yeah well that’s a really good good way for people to to take away some tools to practice for themselves and the final question is what is one book that has impacted your approach to well-being or wellness so i was given the sandor katz’s book called wild fermentation as a christmas present by my husband you know and i joke i said other girls get get diamonds and i gave the book but then i met i got the diamonds as well but then i met sandor and um had the training sessions with him and i fell in love with the guy he’s amazing and he is a living breathing example of how wonderful fermentation can be and how it can support people because he is an aids survivor and he firmly believes that fermented foods are what has have kept him alive all these years it’s a book that i would recommend everyone buys if they want to get into fermentation awesome well thank you so much thank you so much al for um for being on the show we truly we truly believe that by empowering and triggering this thought process to to our audience about you know rethinking the way they eat the way they process their food the the way they even want to take ownership of it right so so thank you for that thank you for inviting me i had an absolute ball and i’ve i’m i’m fizzing it’s you see fermentation is bubbly yeah thank you ladies it has been an absolute pleasure thank you if you enjoyed this episode go ahead and select that follow a subscribe button for now stay safe and we’ll see you next week you

Elle Fox | Ep #52 | What’s Fermenting there?

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