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. This is great information.

    1. Thanks Phyllis!

  2. alison41 says:

    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!

    1. As a pill? Now that is simple.

  3. Mary Naylor says:

    I enjoyed your article. I’ve been thinking about making my own kefir. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I’m glad, Mary. Once you get hold of some milk kefir grains, making the kefir is plain sailing. Good luck.

  4. Oh dear. I was answering your comments on my phone app and suddenly it informed me I had deleted a perfectly nice comment. Who was that I wonder? I am so sorry.

  5. Bernadette says:

    One of my favorites is a jewish deli style pickle.

  6. 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!

  7. Luckily it is easy with commercial packets and a vacuum flask, so that’ll do me. Instapot is new to me… is that for making yoghurt from your own culture, I wonder?

    1. InstaPots are the latest and greatest “must-have” kitchen gadget. It’s a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, etc. all in one. I’m not sure how the yogurt is made, but I know it’s used for that a lot.

      1. Oh, now I remember reading about them. They do sound amazing. I can probably live without one at this point though. Thank you!

  8. candidkay says:

    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:).

  9. 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.

  10. gertloveday says:

    So does wine count as a healthy fermented food like kombucha?

    1. I believe it does in moderate quantities especially red. I don’t neglect this health food.

      1. gertloveday says:

        Made my day Rachel. Just when this Febfast is over.

  11. existicle says:

    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!

    1. Mmmm, delicious with sausage or just as a pickle. Enjoy.

  12. Robyn Haynes says:

    I don’t need convincing about the benefits of fermented foods having long been an advocate. But I haven’t tried making my own. You make it look easy.

    1. I pick the easy ones! But no doubt you have your trusted sources. Enjoy!

  13. 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.

    1. It’s wonderful when you get such a clear, unmistakable result from a simple food change. I’m so happy for him.

  14. I love kefir, but I only have it on its own. You can sort of taste the alcohol in it sometimes

    1. I must watch out for that taste. Perhaps I don’t leave mine fermenting long enough for the alcohol to be detectable.

  15. Just finished making our first batch of kefir and started the second one. We like it so far and plan on making it a daily thing. Thanks for you site.

    1. Great news! Have fun. Aren’t those grains gorgeous?