Our immune system, our ability to remain healthy, functioning and living has always been targeted by viruses from the beginning of time. We inhabit a planet with a trillion species of microbes both friend and foe.
Right now we are staring at a once-in-a-century virus which is attacking not only our immune system but also our way of life. The world is woefully underprepared for such a potentially catastrophic battle. It seems that time has erased the memory of previous viral attacks like the Spanish Flu which killed between 50 -100 million people. We now not only stare at our generations Balrog but those of many future generations.
What do we have in our arsenal to fight back? A weapon that too has been forgotten over the last century. A weapon that has always been with us. A weapon that is easy to find and use. That weapon against viral attack is Fermentation.
Fermented foods and beverages help support our gut health which is the main structure of our immunity system. They help us adapt to change, heal from disease and fight of viral infections. Our digestive system is made of hundreds of trillions of bacteria with beneficial flora which is reinforced by the introduction of probiotic-rich fermented foods. Unfortunately, the overconsumption of processed food and antibiotics has weakened our first defence against viral assaults.
Perhaps our closest and most accessible microbial ally is Lactic Acid Bacteria ( LAB) which turns milk to yoghurt, cabbage to sauerkraut. It produces D-phenyllactic in the gut which binds to a unique immune cell receptor hydroxycarboxylic acid (HCA). These receptors are regulators of immune functions. They are unique on our planet to humans and the great apes and is theorized they developed when early humans began to eat fruits and other food that was fermenting*.
It is time to summon this evolutionary advantage and return to consuming fermented food. But where do you start? We have collaborated with South African fermenters to bring you 7 recipes that will boost your immune system. Simple accessible recipes that can be made with easy-to-obtain ingredients (usually) and make use of our microbial mercenaries.
This recipe was created by fermentation guru, Calvin Tribelhorn, founder of Kommunitea. He has been helping people re-colonize their gut microbiome the natural way. Without drugs, supplements or multivitamins but through fermentation workshops and recipe sharing.
This potent tonic includes immune-boosting natural ingredients like garlic, chilli, ginger and turmeric and is fermented in apple cider vinegar 4-6 weeks. “Enjoy a flaming hot shot of this every morning to give your immune system everything it needs to keep you healthy” quips Calvin.
Take a look at Calvin’s Fire Tonic recipe on Kommunitea’s Instagram HERE
How do you get your kids to start consuming immune-boosting fermented foods? Start by fermenting the foods they most love. Fermented Ketchup is not the sugary emulsification, but rather a probiotic-rich lactic fermentation. Its complexity of flavour will have yours and your kid’s taste buds dancing with joy and guts singing the immune tune.
Zayaan Khan is a food activist and life ethos philosopher who is changing the way people view and interact with their diets. An expert fermenter she is a leading light in both in fermentation evangelism and politics of food.
Check out Zayaan’s Fermented Ketchup Recipe and many others in her Instagram platform HERE
Che Upton is a Kimchi Queen for a reason. After spending time in Korea she fell in love with Korean style lactic ferment cabbage. She has created a thriving health food business Che Gourmet and is a huge advocate for fermentation and its links to gut health.
“Kimchi, has been found in experiments to help you feel less anxiety and depression. It does this by working on the hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF acts on certain neurons of the central nervous system, helping to support the survival of existing neurons, and encouraging the growth of new neurons and synapses. As they say your Gut is the Brain of your body. Time to feed it some Kimchi deliciousness”, explains Che.
Try out her recipe for Kimchi Cucumber on her Instagram HERE
“This Lacto-fermented garlic recipe is a great change-of-season medicine to keep the nasties away. Garlic is a super source of mood enhancer selenium. Fermentation makes these anti-anxiety properties more accessible in the digestion process. Add to that its potent probiotics to your diet” shares Zayaan.
Get this happiness-inducing recipe on Zayaan’s Instagram HERE
Plum & Lemon Verbena Kombucha
Fermented fizzy tea or booch has been an ancient secret of Asia that has been embraced worldwide for its reported health benefits and its incredible complexity of flavour. A great substitute to soft drinks with minimal sugar content which is consumed in the fermentation process and replaced with subtle aesthetic tartness and an array of beneficial probiotics. This recipe is adapted from the modern seminal piece on fermenting at home, Noma’s Guide to Fermentation. A New York Times bestselling treasure trove of ferments that played an instrumental role in the reawakening to fermentation and its benefits. We added plums to their lemon verbena recipe but you can add any organic fruit you desire. Incredibly refreshing and invigorating and packed with probiotics.
See the recipe on our Instagram post HERE
Like yoghurt except infinitely more effective in improving your gut with immune-boosting probiotics. It is made from kefir grains, a specific type of mesophilic symbiotic culture that ferments cow’s milk. While yoghurt is the best known fermented probiotic-rich in the modern western diet, milk kefir is starting to rise to the top as with its 61 strains of bacteria and yeasts.
This simple easy to make recipe is provided by Calvin from Kommunitea HERE
Traditional beet kvass or “Russian wine” is a fermented drink using beetroot, apples and rye bread. A traditional tonic that was very popular in Russian and Ukrainian cultures dating back to the Middle Ages. Beetroot is high in vitamin C which is unlocked by the fermentation process. Its immune-boosting power is used to protect against infections.
Get this recipe from fermented fanatic Calvin of Kommunitea HERE
There you have it! Some easy to make recipes that are both delicious and massively beneficial. Try with one that catches your fancy and branch out as you learn more about the process of fermentation. Please note that fermented food and beverages are not a wonder cure or a fix-all but there is plenty of scientific evidence-based studies which highlight its benefits to your immune system. Feel free to contact any of our recipes authors for further guidance and workshops.
* from a peer-reviewed research article by Leipzig University Full journal entry HERE