It seems like an eternity since I first embarked on the biggest kitchen adventure of my life—making my own probiotic-rich foods. Though they are profoundly healthy, probiotics—microorganisms that help maintain or restore beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract—seemed like they would take too much time, too much money, and be too difficult to make on my own. Boy, was I wrong! So wrong, in fact, that after my first few tries, I determined to dispel this myth by making a video and booklet about the process, which I called Cook Your Way to Wellness.
This was simply the best way to show my family and friends that making your own probiotics is the opposite of time-consuming, costly, and difficult. I was especially surprised at how easy it is, and I thought you too might want to learn how NOT to pay a huge price for a month’s supply of probiotic supplements. When you buy prepackaged probiotics from your local food market, there is no real guarantee of freshness or effectiveness. They must be kept in a refrigerated environment to help the probiotics survive as they travel hundreds of miles from the laboratories where they were made to the store you where you bought them.
The bottom line, as I discovered, is that it takes very little time and very little money to produce tons of truly fresh, strong probiotics, and the results have been beyond my wildest expectations. A healthy gut is the beginning and end of a super healthy body. When your gut is toxic, you’re toxic all over!
Benefits of Making Your Own Probiotics
Before I tell you about some of the fermented foods you’ll learn how to make, allow me to explain some of the health benefits of probiotics. It’s good to know exactly what they do and therefore understand how they affect your health and wellness.
You can learn all about probiotics online, but governments as well as medical and nutritional experts all agree that they are particularly beneficial for:
- Providing lactic acid, which feeds the intestinal flora and creates the correct pH environment in the gut.
- Supporting good gut bacteria, which helps us easily digest meals and absorb nutrients.
- Protecting the cells that line the gut from bad bacteria that may enter the blood.
- Preventing urinary tract and vaginal infections.
- Combating insulin resistance, a prediabetic condition.
- Helping people with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Assisting in weight loss.
- Supporting the immune system.
- Alleviating GERD or other damage to the gut.
If you are new to Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, the dietary guidelines of the Weston A. Price Foundation, or fermenting in general, then Cook Your Way to Wellness is for you. This detailed 90-minute cooking class comes with an accompanying booklet, Tell Me More, which helps answer questions that beginners will inevitably have. (Cook Your Way to Wellness is also available as an e-learning course from SRP, with a free pdf of the booklet.)
Over five chapters, you will find detailed information for making the following wonderful probiotics:
- Kefir and whey
- Fermented Vegetables
- Beet kvass
- Broth, butter, jerky, grains, and nuts
Now let us look the specific health benefits of some the things you will make in Cook Your Way to Wellness.
Kefir and whey: Covered in chapter one, kefir and whey are both powerhouses of nutrition. As discussed in this article from Healthline, kefir contains a unique probiotic, Lactobacillus kefiri, that may offer protection from infections. Quoting from the article:
“Studies demonstrate that this probiotic can inhibit the growth of various harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, Helicobacter pylori and E. coli. Kefiran, a type of carbohydrate present in kefir, also has antibacterial properties.”
Healthline also explains that kefir may be helpful for osteoporosis, a condition that raises the risk of fractures due to the deterioration of bone tissue. Because it is so common among older women, it is a major problem in Western countries. However, kefir may combat this risk:
“Ensuring an adequate calcium intake is one of the most effective ways to improve bone health and slow the progression of osteoporosis…Full-fat kefir is not only a great source of calcium but also vitamin K2—which plays a central role in calcium metabolism.”
Personal note: Please be highly aware that many calcium supplements are not the correct form of calcium. The calcium lactate found in kefir is easily digested. The wrong forms of calcium can cause more harm than good.
Vegetables: The second chapter covers delicious fermented vegetables, which are often overlooked as a rich source of beneficial gut bacteria:
“What happens during the fermentation process is that natural bacteria feed on sugar and starch to create lactic acid. That acid both preserves the nutrients and creates beneficial enzymes and probiotics, which allows our bodies to absorb more nutrients.”
(The quote above is from the website for Beland Organic Foods. This is a great place to learn about the many combinations of fermented vegetables you can make. However, keep in mind that they are a source of readymade fermented foods, which can be a very expensive way to get your probiotics. It’s a better choice to make them yourself—it’s a lot less money and a lot more family fun.)
Other ferments: The final three chapters cover beet kvass, kombucha, and broth, butter, jerky, grains, and nuts. After they are fermented (or, in the case of butter, eaten in its virgin state), they all provide the same health benefits of probiotics that I discuss above.
Seeing how it all comes together in Cook Your Well to Wellness is a super fun way to learn the true meaning of nutrient dense foods. Have a few friends over to watch it—you can even make it a movie night!
“A great companion to Nourishing Traditions! Perfect for beginners new to Nourishing Traditions principles.
—Sally Fallon, coauthor of Nourishing Traditions
“I really enjoyed Maria’s class. It’s simple, disarming, and concise. It will be a great addition to my work and lifestyle.”
—Chef Joe Babiarz
“Loved your cooking class! It is refreshing to see these topics covered in such a straightforward manner. You make it easy to understand, simple to do. I also like having a video that is made in chapters so I can easily find the topic. Your cheerful presentation makes the whole class charming. I especially enjoyed the section on jerky, with tales of your Piute Indian grandmother. Before I saw your demonstration, I did not have the courage to attempt this!”
—Mary Blair McMorran, former WAPF Chapter Coleader
Disclaimer from Maria Atwood, CNHP: I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, CNHP, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure any human diseases. Please see your medical doctor or health practitioner prior to following any recommendations I make in my blog posts or on my website.