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Kombucha and all things fermented

With this month’s recipe being a delicious kombucha based smoothie, it was a great opportunity to provide some additional information on fermentation.

Plum Kombucha Smoothie

Consuming fermented foods on a regular basis is a convenient way to introduce beneficial probiotics and enzymes into the body and may help to maintain balanced, healthy gut flora. Research has now shown that the health of our gut flora or bacteria is essential for supporting our well-being in many ways. The balance of our gut bacteria has implications on our immune system, absorption of nutrients and the generation of nutrients, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, hormone imbalances, gut issues such as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) and even weight management and mood.

Many aspects of our lives today can compromise our levels of beneficial bacteria including medications such as antibiotics and steroids, stress levels, antimicrobial products (including *hand sanitizer and cleaning products) and a lack of fibre, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables.

Therefore supporting our gut by consuming healthy bacteria can have enormous health benefits. However as mentioned in our recipe overview, if your immune system is severely compromised please be cautious about consuming probiotics and seek guidance from your medical team.
Fermented foods are foods that have gone through what is basically a preserving method, whereby microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi or yeast convert compounds such as sugars and starch into alcohol or acids. Although historically used as a way to preserve foods, fermentation in turn
enhances the natural, beneficial bacteria in food and in many cases improves the nutritional value.

The most commonly consumed fermented foods in a western diet are yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, lassi and tempeh. Be aware that many bought products have been pasteurised and may contain significantly less bacteria than those made at home. So read the label.

Fermenting foods at home can be fun and very rewarding.

A reputable company for all your fermentation needs and advice are ‘Happy Kombucha’ – happykombucha.co.uk. Recipes for homemade sauerkraut and kimchi can be found in the Wholesome World app, ‘The Living Well with Cancer Cookbook’ by Fran Warde and Catherine Zabilowicz, and so much more.

So back to our recipe of the month – The Plum Kombucha Smoothie.

What is kombucha and how is it made.

Thought to originate in China or Japan, kombucha is a slightly sparkling drink made by adding specific strains of bacteria, yeast and sugar to black or green tea.

To make your own you require a Scoby, a pancake-like culture
which will take on the shape of the container you are using. The Scoby contains several different species of bacteria which ferment the alcohol produced by the yeast into acetic acid. This increases the acidity of the kombucha thus limiting the alcohol content. This mild alcoholic content is not high enough to put it in the category of an alcoholic beverage but is sufficient enough to resist contamination by most airborne bacteria and mould. This makes it generally easy to home brew and if cared for, the Scoby can provide you with a lifetime of brewing.
Consuming Kombucha may have many gut health benefits due to its bacteria and yeast content, active enzymes, butyric acid, amino acids and polyphenols. This makes it a great alternative to fizzy drinks and even beer!

*hand sanitizer has a place at the moment for reducing the risk of Sars-CoV-2 contamination but wherever possible I would recommend that you use soap. Soap is also highly efficient at killing the virus by dissolving its fatty membrane.

Ref: Melini F, Melini V & Ruzzi M. Health-Promoting Components in Fermented Foods: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review. Nutrients 2019 May: 11(5): 1189 (accessible link through PubMed)

New Smoothie’s

Plum Kombucha | Green Isle| Creamy Chocolate