When exploring the “garden” of our gut in previous blog posts we have brought information about kombucha to the table. In these posts, we have given additional resources that have given both the pros and cons of consuming kombucha. Due to a widespread and growing support of both commercially produced kombucha and home brew recipes we are seeing a few posts that are more negative, listing that kombucha “is not a cure-all for everything from cancer to diabetes”, and I totally agree. So I started doing more research and I wanted to list more resources for others to look at.
This last one, from kombucha kamp gave a quote that I agree with.
“However, Kombucha is NOT a panacea – it doesn’t cure ANYTHING! It may help the body bring itself back into balance naturally. That is how it is able to do so much – because it’s really just your body working with nutrition, like any other food. Even though some think of it as a medicinal tonic, it’s really just a delicious and healthy beverage choice and one of many fermented food options. We love it because it’s easy to drink at any time of day and takes to flavoring and many other uses so well. Plus, making Kombucha is just fun!”
Why I Drink Kombucha
So why do I drink kombucha? I do believe that a healthy gut biome can positively impact our overall health, including improving our own process of fighting sickness and disease. I do believe that fermented foods are a wonderful way to improve gut health. Here are a couple of resources that validate that premise.
I enjoy drinking kombucha and believe it is an easy way (and often more cost effective) to continually replenish good probiotics into my system. It is refreshing and helps balance pH in my system, comparable to the benefits of drinking diluted bragg’s apple cider vinegar. I can make my own and experiment with a variety of flavors. When making my own, I know the date it was made and can try a multitude of tea combinations.
Then I remembered hearing in person, and reading posts about how garden plants thrive when introducing leftover scoby’s to your garden. I always have an abundance of extra scoby’s as well as kefir grains, so I chopped up some scoby’s and added extra kefir grain and took them out to my composting barrel to see for myself how they may help my plants. Today I found more articles of how to use them in my garden and even how my worms will love them!
Many plants thrive in more acidic soil environments. Grind up or coarsely chop a SCOBY and add it to your soil mix.
Adding extra SCOBYs to the compost pile is a great way to return the culture to the earth. I throw them in my worm bin and boy, do I have a lot of happy worms! =) I use the worm tea to nourish my garden.
So my reasoning process is – if the scoby’s are beneficial for my plants, worms and soil in improving pH and nutrient absorption, I can benefit from ingesting this time tested fermented drink as well. Ultimately each person needs to decide for themselves. Many others who have used kombucha much longer than I, simple suggest trying it for yourself and see what you think. I love researching this process and the history behind it. I also enjoy the other information on totally different health issues I come across in my search. (This week I totally went down a Magnesium rabbit trail. So fun!) I would like to encourage others to search out all available options for your own specific health concerns. If at all possible, I prefer whole food sources as health options whenever I can. Explore the research as well as talk with your own medical professional (This week my medical professional shared with me about arnica montana as a homeopathic aid with inflammation. I always love learning). Learn much and grow your garden well!
I was introduced to kombucha several years ago from a woman who had suffered very serious health issues and almost died. She was put on a heavy regimen of drugs which made her feel very fatigued and unable to function well. She learned about making her own kombucha, and noticed when she drank it daily she felt better. In her own words, she believed it was the kombucha that totally restored her health. She had brought several different flavors to a meeting I was attending with her, so I tried them and was curious to learn more.
I had never heard of kombucha before that day, (maybe you don’t know about it either). So I wanted to give an encyclopedia explanation that also lists the pro’s and con’s.
What is it?
Kombucha is any of a variety of fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green teadrinks that are commonly intended as functional beverages for their supposed health benefits. Kombucha is produced by fermenting tea using a “symbiotic ‘colony’ of bacteria and yeast” (SCOBY). Actual contributing microbial populations in SCOBY cultures vary, but the yeast component generally includes Saccharomyces (a probiotic fungus) and other species, and the bacterial component almost always includes Gluconacetobacter xylinus to oxidize yeast-produced alcohols to acetic and other acids.
The geographic origin of kombucha is unknown and its etymology is uncertain. Historically, kombucha has been home-brewed or locally brewed, but in the late 1990s, commercially bottled kombucha became available in North American retail stores. It is known in Chinese as chájūn (茶菌), Japanese as kōcha-kinoko (紅茶キノコ), Korean as hongchabeoseotcha (홍차버섯차) and Russian as chaynyy grib (чайный гриб). These names translate literally to “tea fungus” or “tea mushroom.”
Kombucha has been claimed to have various health benefits, but there is little evidence to support such claims. There are several documented cases of serious adverse effects, including fatalities, related to kombucha drinking, possibly arising from contamination during home preparation. Since the mostly unclear benefits of kombucha drinking do not outweigh the known risks, it is not recommended for therapeutic use.
Even with these types of disclaimers, kombucha is growing in popularity and you can now buy it bottled in large varieties of flavors in almost any health food store. The Price Chopper on our small town even carries bottled kombucha.
This may seem a little “faddish”, but this drink has been around for hundreds of years and we seem to be getting back to it if full swing.
I personally love kombucha. I have bought many bottles of GT brand over time and saved them to use for my own home brew. They are thick and strong and have easy screw on lids. Currently I am making 2 gallons at a time which yields about 12 – 16 ounce bottles. We drink it so quickly, that I am working toward a 5 gallon continuous brew in the future.
Many people around where I live brew their own kombucha so I have a lot of advice to draw from when I have questions. I make sure to use filtered water (I have a Berkey filter that I love).
I have been advised to use oolong tea in the mix which seems to help make it fizzy and I enjoy experimenting with different flavors in the second ferment (right now I am making pineapple flavored). As a former home school mom, it is like having wonderful science experiments running all the time. My scoby hotel is fun to show people. I do notice a positive difference in my digestive system and energy level when I drink it, so for me it really is a plus. (I also use the “vinegar” in the hotel as a toner for my face or conditioner for my hair).
I’ve heard that there were chefs that started cooking with scoby’s , so I did some searching and found some. O my goodness! I even found how to make jerky out of scoby’s! (There are also many video how to’s on you tube).
These posts are given as information and instruction, but ultimately the choice is yours. Do your own research, try some from the store and decide for yourself if this is beneficial for you and your family.
I want to continue to give on-going garden updates to encourage others than anyone can try new and creative ways of growing a variety of food.
The Tilapia fish in the tank in our little greenhouse are growing nicely (even though we have lost a few) and our first try with Hydroponics is still moving forward. We and our neighbors have harvested lettuce and kale for several salads. Our neighbors have even taken the lettuce stems and planted them outside. It is incredible to watch them continue to regrow. We plan to plant basil and mint to replace the lettuce and kale in the hydroponic garden as the temperatures begin to rise.
I have to share with you a cute story of a couple of precious little girls who are bringing us very large earthworms that we are keeping in a tub in the greenhouse to feed to the fish as they get bigger. These two little ones are raising money to send to Africa to help other children. They each bring their own container with the worms they have hunted for. I love to watch them count out each worm when they get here so they can get paid separately. They enjoy the fish and are curious about composting as well. It is such a joy to watch and it warms my heart.
Cabbage, beets, kale, lettuce, herbs, potatoes and tomatoes are all doing well is a variety of containers. I know some of them are a little crowded right now, but there are still plans to build a larger U-shaped bed as the weather warms up. We can then transplant to give them more room. I just wanted to show you how well things can grow in containers. You don’t need a lot of land or space in order to grow your own veggies.
May Family Fun Day
We are planning a Fun Family Event here on May 21st from 9:00 – 12:00. We will have learning stations involving helpful garden friends, including a ladybug release, a butterfly release and observing honeybees. We will be sending out more information each week. The cost will be $20 per family. Families are welcome to bring a picnic lunch and stay to play in the afternoon. Mark your calendars and join us in the fun!
Encouragement For Challenged Health
I need to ask the question, “Why do we grow our own food in gardens?” Each one of you may give a variety of answers, but the overall goal of WellStone Gardens is vibrant health. Nutrition matters whether you grow your own or not. Food is medicine. I want to share with you this incredible true story of how food and exercise helped turn a life around.
If you met this beautiful young mother of two today, you would never suspect that she had ever been anything but the picture of ideal beauty and health. What strikes me about her story is that she started her life as so many of our babies do… colic, ear infections, etc. which indicate the modern problem of poor gut bacteria… however, rather than accept the standard medical protocol, she sought and achieved optimal health through nutrition and lifestyle. There is so much more to her story, she is in her early thirties and on her second career- a nutritional coach and pilates instructor. She enters triathlons, half marathons, is raising and nurturing two beautiful children along with her most adventurous husband, Jeremy Collins. Below is a link to her story which I hope will inspire you to move out of your comfort zone and go for the best you can be. Tricia’s Story
This post is a continuation of The Garden of Our Gut from last month. Be sure to read that post, if you haven’t had the chance, first because it will bring you up to speed to help you better “digest” this information. (pun intended)
Consistent across the board
When I am researching large amounts of information regarding overall health, I look for consistency across the board from many different resources. For example, across the board any health resource will agree on the importance of diet and exercise for improved overall individual health and wellness. Variations in philosophy and techniques come in to play, but the premise is consistent.
In terms of digestive health, bone broth is consistently suggested and encouraged and is a recipe on my website. Currently, there is a growing trend that I am finding over and over from so many different sources of the importance of probiotics in daily foods choices. Again, the post from last month gives a great foundation of resource information.
Consuming Kombucha, cultured vegetables and kefir are wonderful ways to implement a variety of probiotics into your system every day. Sources state that these living bacteria aid in overall health from everything from hormonal health from Dr. Sara Gottfried , digestive health from Donna Schwenk to the gut- brain connection from Dr. David Perlmutter
From Knowledge to Practice… Step by Step
Now the question comes into play about how to incorporate these foods and drinks into your personal diet on a daily basis. This week we build on taking kefir and making an easy anytime kefir “pudding” in a jar. It is great for a ready-made breakfast addition, but my family uses it as a quick snack though out the day. I make 3 quart sized jars at a time to keep in the refrigerator. I know I use the word “versatile” 0ften in my recipes, but again, this is another one that can be totally reworked to your own personal tastes or what you happen to have on hand.
I will give some step by step pictures here and then send you to the finished recipe. This is really so easy, it just takes your personal desire and commitment to try making it to see how truly quick and tasty it is. When you do this, it does actually become part of your personal comfort zone. That’s when health change happens.
If you need more experienced instructions, go to Donna Schwenk at cultured food life (Her video is given above).
What I want you to understand is that I am NOT an experienced expert and I am doing this. My little kefir grains are growing faster that I can keep up with. I want to encourage and cheerlead all you newbies out there that anybody can do this.
You will need whole milk and kefir grains or kefir starter and at least 1 glass quart jar. (I do 2 every day). Fill Jar with milk leaving about an inch or two space at the top.
Add kefir grains and store covered for 24 hours. I place mine in my cabinet.
Strain kefir grains through a sieve into another jar and add fruit of choice for 2nd ferment. (I love using chunks of oranges). Back in cabinet for another day, then refrigerate for use.
So easy! The next day repeat the process all over again.
Pudding In A Jar
Okay, now you have your kefir. How do I make my kefir pudding? Again, Donna Schwenk is more experienced and her videos are easy to follow. I had to do some adapting for personal taste and amounts needed per day. I am giving a simple play by play here, but the variations are truly endless!
I take my kefir with oranges from the refrigerator and blend it in my Vitamix blender with 3 Tbsp. of a sweetener mixture of monk fruit and chicory root. Use the amount and type of sweetener you prefer. (By the way this is delicious as-is)
I pour 2 cups of this kefir mixture into a 1 quart jar.
Step 3: Add;
Fruit of choice (examples: one ripe banana, ¼ cup blueberries…)
1 cup gluten free old fashioned rolled oats. Add more for a thicker pudding, reduce for more of a yogurt style. (I plan to also try buckwheat goats at some point and I will give you an update on how that goes).
1/8 cup black/white chia seeds and ¼ cup hemp seeds to jar and stir well. Yogurt style below on left has double the chia seeds. Adjust to taste and texture you prefer.
Cover and place in refrigerator overnight. The next day it is ready to eat. I like to top it off with my own favorite add in mix of unsweetened shredded coconut, pine nuts, goji berries, raw pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds, and raw hemp seeds.
This is all so healthy and delicious. It can be eaten as breakfast, a snack or even dessert!
I know this is going out on April Fool’s Day, but I don’t have any fun way to play a joke on you all, so you’ll have to be creative on your own. (One year my kid’s placed a small rubber band around the sprayer on the sink so that I got sprayed when I turned the water on. It was very surprising!)
I love springtime, so through May I wanted to follow the same type of garden themes as last month with new information. With this in mind, I wanted to give some update photos on our greenhouse plants/hydroponics and our little Tilapia. All are growing nicely.
We have had such crazy weather (we had cold weather and a little snow on Easter), that I’m glad we had our plants inside the greenhouse.
In addition to our greenhouse growing, we are re-configuring our raised bed square foot gardens, so while we are waiting to re-construct, my neighbor brought me over some wonderful large containers that he had from minerals he gets for his cattle. (Bill and Tarey Shipley are the BEST neighbors ever!) He drilled five holes in the bottom of each one and we placed a couple of inches of gravel in the bottom for drainage. We filled them with dirt we have had in a pile composting. They are wonderfully deep and they are planted so far with asparagus(green and purple), garlic and purple potatoes. These are all first time attempts, so we’ll see what happens.
Local and Organic
Gardening is fun, but it is also a lot of work. We are all about encouraging and inspiring people to grow your own, but we also understand there are many who want the healthy produce (and meats) without all the work. For those who are in this category (and who are local), I have an invitation for you. Tomorrow (April 2) there is an Eat Local and Organic Exposponsored by the Kansas City Food Circle. It will be at Johnson County Community College from 9-2.
I will be at the table with Casa Somerset. I plan to have some fliers as well as a few organic herbs and some cute seed planting kits for kids. I was there last year and all the vendors were wonderful. This event is totally worth your time to come to. Please stop by and talk, I would love to see you! Be sure to get outside, breath deep and enjoy the beauty of Spring!
I am not a doctor, but as a wife, mom, grandma and dealing with my own body, I am intimately involved in healthcare. We are all in the business of self-diagnosis to some degree or the other. We each are our own best describers of how we feel and what things we do to help make our own body feel better. My own body system has always seemed to struggle with digestive issues as well as extended family members dealing with Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease and a variety of other autoimmune issues.
One of the foundational building blocks for WellStone Gardens is “Food is Medicine” and across the board, everyone would agree that diet and exercise are fundamental in health and wellness. There is more to nutrition and the foods we eat than just the vitamin and mineral content. There is the larger implication of how and if the healthy foods we eat can actually be absorbed and the waste disposed of properly, which is a big part of our digestive health. In terms of “gut” health there is a growing body of research focusing on the importance of a healthy gut biome and the impact of bacteria on our overall health and wellness.
I have been reading, researching and exploring in this area of our human microbiome. This post is meant to pass along a variety of resources that you might also enjoy investigating.
Cultured Foods – Grow Your Own
About a year ago, I was introduced to the concept of making my own probiotic foods and beverages in the form of cultured vegetables, kefir (a type of drinkable yogurt), and Komucha (a fermented tea beverage). These are incredibly easy to make at home and so tasty and beneficial.
I don’t want to “reinvent the wheel” in this area. Instead, I want to send you to the resources of those who are far more experienced than I, that may help you understand how to use the “wheel” better. The easiest place to start is with Donna Schwenk at culturedfoodlife.com
You may be asking why our gut biome is so important? For even more research and resource, I highly recommend Dr. David Perlmutter, neurologist and author of the book “Grain Brain”. This book deals with how sugars, or anything that converts to sugar, can cause inflammation and inflammation causes disease.
Dr. Perlmutter has a second book titled “Brain Maker”. This book is the featured book this month here at WellStone Gardens. Brain Maker focuses on the importance of our gut biome and the impact this has on a variety of aspects of our health including our brain.
More Resources to Explore
Hay House Radio has some excellent radio broadcasts. Free 14 day trial, then a very reasonable yearly fee.
As with any garden, you can always replant and regrow those healthy bacteria needed in your system, as well as being watchful for those “weeds” of bacteria that are not helpful. I love watching my own kefir grains reproduce and my kombucha scoby grow. My cultured vegetables are on hand to use as an easy healthy side dish. I will write future posts going into more details on these areas of a healthy microbiome. I wanted to give you a beginning point of reference. The garden I am growing in my gut is as important as my garden outside and I love learning from others how to tend it well.