Updated July 9, 2019
Culturally raised to view bacteria as threatening, in recent years I've been learning about their invaluable benefits: They seem like the best way to nurture our gut health. And eating fermented foods is an easy way to nurture the healthy bacteria in your gut.
There's no better person to learn more about fermented foods than Sandor Katz, author of New York Times bestselling books on the topic. Below are some notes from my podcast recording with Sandor. However, I highly recommend you listen to the podcast by clicking on the play button below.
Our gut accounts for up to 80% of our immune system, influencing our moods and digestion as well. Our gut is also referred to as our second brain(2) because researchers are discovering a strong brain-gut connection. A growing body of research has been studying the influence of our gut health (sometimes referred to as our microbiome(1)) on diseases and disorders.
With a new appreciation for my family's gut health, I have also become really interested in fermenting foods. In getting started, I had many questions and concerns, including, What's the worst that could happen if my family or I accidentally eat toxic mold? Whom better to ask than self-proclaimed "fermentation revivalist" (public-proclaimed fermentation GURU!), Sandor Ellix Katz!
Sandor is a NY Times bestselling author of the books Wild Fermentation(3) and The Art of Fermentation(4). Among his loyal fans is renowned food writer Michael Pollan, who has referenced Sandor in his own books, and has turned to him as a fermentation teacher in his most recent book Cooked.
After my fascinating conversation with Sandor, I now understand why eating fermented foods can be far superior to taking pills with probiotics. Probiotics usually contain less than a handful of bacteria strains, while fermented foods (like fermented cabbage) will contain complex bacterial diversity. You can hear more about this in the podcast conversation (just click below to listen). So consider incorporating fermented foods into your diet if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset.
And instead of using probiotics for kids, consider incorporating fermented carrots, cucumbers, or cabbage in your children's diets instead. It'll be more effective and cheaper!
From my apartment in Manhattan, I spoke to Sandor via Skype while he was at his farm in rural Tennessee. My hopes for this podcast are that it helps listeners reconnect with our fermentation roots (every culture has them), inspire you to start fermenting foods to enrich your gut flora, and help you feel more comfortable making your own fermented vegetables. Listen to practical wisdom from this extremely knowledgeable, kind, humble, and fascinating cultural icon. It will reframe bacteria as a tool that can boost immunity, resilient health, and possibly heal.
Highlights of what this episode covers are below. And notes from this podcast conversation are further below. Hope you enjoy the content!
Sandor's Wish for the World: For more people to reconnect with the earth and our soil.
Click here to watch a video of Sandor Katz, created by the New York Times.
(1) The Human Microbiome.
(2) The Brain-Gut Connection
(3) Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
(4) The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz
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