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For Better Health, Expose Yourself to More Culture

You could probably make a case that visiting an art gallery or taking in a symphony concert can benefit your health. I’ll look that up and report back to you…but it will be on Think Right Thursday.

The Culture Inside

But today is “Wellness Wednesday,” so the culture I’m referring to is actually the bacterial colony in kombucha that makes it one of the most powerful things you can drink.

For the last several weeks, we’ve been talking about the importance of maintaining a healthy gut flora. If you’re new to the discussion (first of all…welcome), I’m not talking about tattooing flowers on your six-pack abs, but about cultivating a healthy digestive system.

Now, the obvious question emerges: why would a chiropractor care about your gut?

The answer is simple: total wellness is more than a straight spine; it requires a comprehensive view of life that balances all of the systems in your body. No organ operates independently. If one part of the body is suffering, the others grieve with it (like a good community). A healthy nervous system is the centerpiece of good health, but if you don’t eat right, move right, think right, and live right, your health will be compromised and it will manifest in sickness somewhere. More and more studies are coming out showing direct causative linkages between stress and sickness, junk food and sickness, and idleness and sickness. Health has many facets, and I wouldn’t be serving you or my patients if I didn’t consider them all.

A Little Review

As we’ve explored in previous articles, bacteria serve many different purposes – some harm your body and some benefit your body.

  • An important part of your immune system is the colony of bacteria that live in your gut. Trillions of living cells break down your food for digestion, identify and address toxins in your system, and perform several other functions. An unhealthy gut colony is the root of nearly all digestive diseases.
  • Antibiotics fight infection by killing bacteria indiscriminately, including the good bacteria that you need. Stress can create a toxic environment in your gut that kills the bacteria. Chemical-treated water and food can cripple the bacteria. Sickness can deplete the colony, leaving your body vulnerable to other infections and viruses. Protecting your gut is crucial for optimum health.

There are things we can do to protect and strengthen the colony, including taking probiotics and eating whole living foods that have a prebiotic fiber content.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I introduced you to kombucha.

Welcome Back To Kombucha

Kombucha has been treating disease in Asia since Jesus walked the earth. It is essentially tea brewed with sugar (sweet tea, for all my Florida friends). People often ask me what kind of tea is best to use, and frankly, I’ve heard of people using black tea, green tea, and even herbal teas, of which there are dozens on the market. The key ingredient that makes it work is a SCOBY (symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast), which triggers the fermentation process. Kefir is a typical SCOBY that people use. Benjamin Wolfe at www.microbialfoods.org gives a fantastic explanation of the process:

“This microbial community is a perfect example of a microbial biofilm, a dense microbial mat fused together by substances that the microbes secrete. In this case, it’s cellulose that is produced by the bacteria that is primarily responsible for the glued together community.

“Yeasts living in the biofilm use the sugars in the tea to produce alcohol. This alcohol is then consumed by neighboring bacteria to produce acetic acid (vinegar). The resulting kombucha tea is an earthy and slightly sweet (depending on the length of fermentation) beverage with hints of vinegar. When bottled and stored, carbon dioxide is trapped making the kombucha bubbly. Some find kombucha to be refreshing and delightful. Others run away in fear and disgust (to be fair, it’s one of the ugliest fermented foods I’ve ever seen!).”

At one of our monthly Fundamental Foods dinners earlier this month, I explained how kombucha works. Like other fermented foods, kombucha is powerful (and I don’t just mean the smell, which can be startling to newbies!). It has such an important beneficial effect for your health that I want to make sure you understand how it works.

Kombucha’s superpowers lie in the naturally-produced antioxidants, b-vitamins, and probiotics, plus the vinegar that is produced in the fermentation process. People use it for detoxing, for rebuilding a depleted gut colony, for improved digestion, and even to improve their mood and increase their energy.

(Quick side note: I think it’s interesting that by looking at the potential benefits of food, you can begin to see the interrelationships between the different parts of our life – body, mind, and emotions – and how they are tied together).

How To Make Your Own Kombucha

The Internet has dozens of recipes for kombucha, but this one from WellnessMama.com is one of the most detailed I’ve seen. Here’s a sample of it:

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon size glass jar (make sure its really clean!!)
  • 1 gallon of brewed sweetened tea (ratio: 1 cup of sugar per gallon of tea) I use regular black tea, though I’ve heard of others using green or herbal teas
  • a SCOBY and ½ cup of liquid from a previous batch of Kombucha (I bought my SCOBY here)
  • coffee filter or thin cloth and a rubber band

Instructions

  1. Prepare the sweet tea. I use 1 family size tea bag or 8-10 small bags per gallon of water. Add 1 cup of regular sugar (organic preferably). Do not use honey!
  2. Let tea cool to room temperature and make sure it is really cool! This step is very important as too hot of tea can kill your SCOBY.
  3. Once tea is completely cool, pour into glass jar, leaving just over an inch of room at the top. Pour in ½ cup liquid from a previous batch of Kombucha or if starting from a dehydrated SCOBY, pour in ½ cup from a store-bought bottle of Kombucha.
  4. With very clean hands, gently place the SCOBY at the top of the jar of tea. It should float, though if it doesn’t just let it fall and don’t stick your hands in the tea!
  5. Cover the jar with the coffee filter or cloth and rubber band tightly (flies love this stuff!)
  6. Put the jar in a warm (around 70-75 degrees is best) corner of the kitchen where it is at least a few feet away from any other fermenting products.
  7. Let sit to ferment for around 7 days, though the length of time may vary depending on your temperature. You can test the Kombucha by placing a straw in the jar carefully (slide under the SCOBY) and sipping. It should taste tart but still very slightly sweet also.
  8. At this point, Kombucha is ready for a second ferment. If you aren’t doing the second ferment, just pour the kombucha into another jar or jars with airtight lids and seal until ready to drink.

She has more information about it, so definitely read the whole thing. I hope you’ll try it for yourself at home and let me know what you think. Making your own almost always beats driving back and forth to the nearest health food store and paying retail for it. It won’t be long before you’ll want to have it every day, and making your own is cheaper and more convenient.

As always, I start with the caveat that it is an acquired taste and it might take a little getting used to, but then again, that’s true of so many things that are amazingly good for us. Once you press through your initial reaction, you’ll find it supercharging your body in some powerfully positive ways. I can’t wait to hear about the results you get.

As always, if you have a question, you can post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus and I’ll respond.

There is so much potential benefit for everyone in kombucha, I hope you’ll take a few seconds now to share this with friends. It just might be the answer one of your friends is looking for. We want to get good information in front of people, to help them live the healthy life they are looking for, but we need your help to get the word out.

I’ll see you back here tomorrow for “Think Right Thursday.”

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas

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