Part 3 of the 4 R approach refers to Re-inoculate. While this sounds scary, as though your body is at war with itself, it kind of is already when you have a leaky gut. If we do use the war analogy then in this scenario we want to get more of the good guys (beneficial bacteria) on board so that we can kill off most of the bad guys (bad bacteria). We bring in more good guys by way of probiotic supplements or fermented foods and we can give the good guys a helping hand by consuming prebiotics rich foods such as raw asparagus, garlic, onion, leek, bananas, dandelion greens and Jerusalem artichokes. By introducing more good bacteria we are able to help restore a healthy balance in the gut that was disrupted by a poor diet, medications, stress, etc.
Fermented foods: I added shredded carrot to this batch of sauerkraut. Once you have made sauerkraut a few times feel free to play around with different vegetables.
Sometimes we can get by with a simple probiotic supplement from the chemist or health food shop however most of the ones I have seen in store don’t contain many strains of probiotics (2 – 3 strains) and may only contain a few million bacteria (only… that sounds a lot right?), whereas some therapeutic brands contains over 30 different strains and contain 10’s of billions of bacteria. The most common probiotic supplement that I have used in the past has been Swisse Ultiboost Inner Balance (only 3 strain) mainly for ease of purchase, the high probiotic count (26 to 35 billion) and because its more affordable then many therapeutic brands. If you are after a therapeutic strength probiotic supplement with a high probiotic count and variety of strains you may want to consider Bio Kult or Prescript Assist (29 strains).
Whatever probiotic supplement you choose it is best to start gradually and slowly increase the dose to prevent getting unpleasant die off reactions. For example opening the capsule and having about less than ¼ of the contents for a few days and then increase to ½ a capsule, until you are eventually taking 1 or 2 a day depending on your requirements. The autoimmune or leaky gut symptoms that many of us experience are due to pathogenic microbes releasing toxins in the body and according to Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride (author of the Gut And Psychology Diet Syndrome) die off occurs because when the probiotics kill off the pathogens, large amounts of toxins are released potentially worsening symptoms such as depression, migraines, arthritis and fatigue. Some people become discouraged by the symptoms and will discontinue taking probiotics before they experience any benefits so if you experience unpleasant die off symptoms perhaps reduce the dose for a few days and see how you feel. if you experience any symptoms that cause concern please see your health care professional.
My preference is to increase the probiotic content in my diet before I turn to supplements and one way to do this is by consuming fermented foods. Fermented foods are a great alternative to probiotic supplements as they can provide a wide variety of beneficial bacteria in extremely high proportions. It is also a much cheaper alternative. Fermented foods have been consumed by traditional cultures around the world for many year and in addition to their high probiotic content (up to 100 times more than some supplements) they also increase the bio-availability of nutrients and contain high levels of digestive enzymes. Some options are milk and water kefir, yoghurt, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables and kombucha.
Making fermented foods yourself is the most cost effective* way and with the right equipment and a little time it can be very easy. I’ll even show you how with a simple sauerkraut recipe :-).
This recipe is from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (seriously good book)
- Large glass jar with a glass or plastic lid (I usually use a 1.5L pickl it jar with an air lock)
- 1 medium cabbage, about 1 kg
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt (or 2 tbsp if not using whey)
- 4 tablespoon whey (can substitute with an extra tablespoon of salt)
- Shred the cabbage with a food processor or by hand with a sharp knife and add to a very large mixing bowl with the salt and whey.
- Pound the cabbage with your fist or a wooden mallet until lots of the juices are released from the cabbage, up to 10 minutes. Think of it as free stress release or an arm workout.
- Mix in the caraway seeds if using and press mixture into glass jar. Push down until the juices rise to the top and cover the mixture.
- Leave 1 inch at the top of the jar as the cabbage will expand slightly.
- Put a glass weight or cabbage leaf on top of the shredded cabbage to keep submerged under the juices and reduce the chances of the sauerkraut going moldy.
- Put the lid (with airlock if you wish) on the jar and leave in a dark dry place for 3 – 5 days before moving to the fridge. You can consume straight away but the flavour and probiotic count will increase if you allow the sauerkraut to continue fermenting in the fridge for a few weeks or months.
*I bought 1 large cabbage (probably weighed 3- 4kg) for $4 and used half of it to make a 1.5L jar of sauerkraut which will last me ages and can keep in the fridge for months if we don’t eat it all by then.
If you haven’t tried making fermented foods yet I would encourage you to give it a go but if you simply don’t have time or you don’t want to risk stuffing it up Peace Love & Vegetables stock a number of tasty fermented vegetable which you can source from a number of health food shops, cafes (Nutrition Republic and The Paleo Cafe stock their products in Adelaide), selected grocers around Australia and online.
Read about steps 1 and 2 of the 4 R approach by clicking the links below