Nourishing Life #6 - Grow Your Own Probiotics
This post is inspired by conversations with a number of patients recently who have been on antibiotics.
Common advice given by medical professionals is to take probiotic supplements of so called ‘friendly bacteria’ during or after a course of antibiotics. The reason is that broad spectrum antibiotics act indiscriminately against both disease causing bacteria AND health promoting bacteria (our natural microbiota)
An analogy I enjoy is that taking antibiotics is a bit like trying to roast a chicken by burning your whole house down. Of course you want to roast the chicken, but there is a bigger price to pay.
The issue of over prescription of antibiotics is not within the scope of this article but if you are taking or have taken antibiotics recently I agree that you should take steps to restore healthy gut bacteria. How you do this is the focus of this post.
Selling us the problem AND the solution
The global value of the antibiotics market in 2016 was $39.8 billion. The global value of the the probiotics market in 2016 was over $35 billion. I am not here to peddle a conspiracy theory.
Merely to point out that is a heck of a lot of probiotic pills, supplements, yoghurt drinks and ‘functional foods’.
One of the reasons why this market is booming is because we are now a global community of germophobes.
For decades, ads have been promoting cleaning products showing conscientious mothers in gleaming kitchens killing ‘99.9% of all bacteria’. We have happily set off to wage war with all bacteria so that the only ones we can trust are the ‘friendly’ ones being sold to us in the form of supplements, yoghurts drinks and pills.
It’s a classic move. Sell us the problem and the solution.
Massage a cabbage
If you’d prefer not to shell out £12.00 a month on a well known Japanese yoghurt drink, you could do a lot worse than cutting up a cabbage, sprinkling on some salt and giving it a massage.
1 kg of sauerkraut can be made for £1.50 and will give you all the good gut bacteria you need for about 2 months. It takes about 20 minutes to make and 7 days to mature before it’s ready to eat. I make a batch every couple of months and it is now a staple of my diet containing a much wider range of naturally occurring bacteria than you would ever hope to find in a pill or supplement drink.
It really could not be cheaper or simpler. For a great video tutorial on the subject check out the wonderfully passionate and charismatic Sandor Katz - world expert on fermentation of everything from sauerkraut to sourdough.