Fermenting foods to soothe an older gut

Fermenting cabbage, tea, and milk at home
Fermenting cabbage, tea, and milk at home

So much fermentation in my kitchen! How come?

Old digestive systems grow a bit cranky and tender. And it’s so irritating when you realise you can’t handle quite as much coffee as in your wild and wicked years of youth. But that’s not why my kitchen has gradually become a bacteria brewery.

For years I’ve eaten various fermented foods, including yoghurt, sauerkraut, cheese, wine, umeboshi, and miso. Now that science is demonstrating their many benefits, I’ve started making my own. It’s kind of fun, and I only do the easy ones. I began with sour plum concentrate and then kombucha to control a lifelong acid reflux problem: beats medication hands down.

  • Sauerkraut is working away in that blue and gold bowl under a bag of water. This one is from red cabbage. Great with Hunter sausage and boiled new potatoes.
  • Kombucha (fermented tea) is brewing in the pottery jar topped with a dish cloth, and another batch is having its second brew in bottles: I added lemon and ginger this time for flavour and to create more fizz.
  • Yoghurt? Home made is best but it’s far too tricky, so I make yoghurt from a packet.

King Kefir: best of all fermented foods is the easiest to make at home

home made kefir in jars
Fermenting milk kefir is ridiculously simple

I make kefir from skim milk with added calcium, adding a dash of cream to thicken it up. But you really can’t go wrong. The long-suffering kefir starter grains are hiding in their own slimy milk in the smaller jar, ready to work on the next batch. Kefir on porridge, kefir smoothies — anything yoghurt does, kefir does better.

Fermented foods are yummy but what work do they do?

You’ll find heaps of research on the subject in the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, if you’re interested. For older people, the benefits may or may not include the following:

  • may help digestion
  • may prevent acid reflux
  • may moderate Alzheimer’s symptoms — one small study so far suggests this
  • may help with depression
  • may help to control diabetes.

And who knows what else? The mysterious, pervasive, holistic function of our microbiota is a hot new playground for scientific researchers in numerous fields.

More information from trusted sources about fermented foods

29 thoughts on “Fermenting foods to soothe an older gut

  1. Hmmm. Food for thought, if not for my gut. I have mixed feelings about all these products. I take a daily probiotic and that does wonders for the works!

  2. I have never made yogurt but I read that it’s pretty easy to do if you have an InstaPot (maybe another excuse for me to get one 🙂 ). I’m grateful that I’ve never had reflux problems, but I have noticed that my digestive system is getting “cranky and tender” as I get older. Good info!

  3. I love how much wiser so many of us are getting about food. I began with kombucha a few months ago. It’s really had amazing effects. But you are ambitious! I don’t ferment my own anything:).

  4. That’s so interesting, that you’ve had amazing effects with store-bought kombucha. You must have picked a good one, without added sugar or artificial fizz. I’m offering my kombucha at my birthday party tomorrow so I hope somebody likes it. It’s an acquired taste.

  5. I constantly read about the health benefits of fermented food but am yet to take the plunge (and, if i’m honest, I am prone to taking the plunge when it comes to dietary habits!) I’m gonna have a crack at sauerkraut!

  6. This is SO interesting! My daughter has introduced kefir into her family’s diet after a Latvian friend told her it can help with eczema. Her youngest son, my grandson, has had very severe eczema since birth and she has tried so many remedies – medical, herbal, dietary. Since he started having kefir every day his skin is clearer than it has ever been in his five years. If she runs out and he misses a day or two his skin flares up again.

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