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Lee’s Summit Chiropractor | Cultured Foods

Dating back to antiquity, cultured foods have been a part of civilization spanning across the globe, until recently in our modern era with the advent of refrigeration, preservatives and other storage methods. But the process of culturing does more than simply preserve our food—culturing food breathes life into ordinary foods and makes them superfoods! To emphasize this point, consider that cultured foods can impart the following benefits to those who consume them:

  • Aids digestion—the bacteria in these cultures actually work to break your food down and, in the case of milk kefir, can predigest elements in the food, like lactose, which would otherwise cause digestive distress in some people.
  • Raises the nutrition levels of foods—for instance, raw cultured sauerkraut contains considerably more vitamin C, B vitamins and other nutrients than uncultured cabbage.
  • Removes toxins from our foods, such as phytic acid, nitrites, oxalic acid, nitrosamines and others, making the foods safer for consumption.
  • Gives the immune system a boost—80% of your immune system lies in your gut and your gut microbes outnumber the cells in your body 10-to-1. Keep them happy and you will be very healthy indeed!
  • Crowds out pathogenic bacteria and yeast in the gut, which is helpful with yeast infections, chronic sinus issues (sinusitis) and candida overgrowth.
  • Promotes healthy bowel movements while preventing constipation or diarrhea—both are signs of an improperly functioning gut. This is especially important for anyone with a history of antibiotic use.
  • Optimizes your weight—in human and animal studies, gut microbes have been shown to have an effect upon weight loss or gain. An unhealthy gut makes losing weight an even bigger challenge.
  • Seals and heals “leaky gut” conditions and can vastly improve one’s susceptibility to allergies over time (both seasonal allergies and food-sensitivities).

Hippocrates, the proclaimed father of medicine, stated over 2,000 years ago that “natural forces within us are the true healers of disease” and that “all disease begin in the gut.” What we see clinically is that many conditions originate with an unhealthy gut and that improving the health of the gut is integral to achieving lasting and robust health. This can be accomplished with the addition of cultured foods to a whole-food diet. Here’s a list of just some of the conditions that benefit from a healthy gut:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Autism
  • Autoimmune Disease
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Cholesterol and Hyperlipidemia
  • Diabetes
  • Digestive Disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue
  • Immune-Related Disorders
  • Kidney Disorders
  • Liver Disorders
  • Neurological Disorders (e.g. MS)
  • Obesity
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • Sinus Infections
  • Skin Conditions (e.g. Eczema)
  • Vitality and Wellness

Recipes You Can Make at Home

The basic formula for cultured foods is as follows: food source (culturing medium) + beneficial bacteria and/or beneficial yeast + time = cultured food. The process, in most cases, requires little prep work and is very easily accomplished with minimal effort. However, for some it may be more convenient to buy pre-made cultured foods from the store. If you find that this applies in your case, look for the words “contains live cultures” on cultured foods found refrigerated at your local health food store (kim chi, kombucha, kefir, kvas and sauerkraut are among our favorites!). If you’re feeling more adventurous, here are a couple of easy-to-make cultured food recipes to whet your appetite.


Sauerkraut, which means “sour cabbage,” originated in Europe and consists of lacto-fermented cabbage. Sauerkraut works wonders on the digestive tract and is rich in digestive enzymes, probiotic bacteria, vitamins and minerals. Eating sauerkraut will also boost your immune system through its high vitamin C content and provide cancer-fighting antioxidants, heart-healthy acetylcholine, while promoting bowel regularity.
• 1 medium head green cabbage (about 3 lbs)
• 1 ½ tablespoons Celtic or kosher salt
• Filtered water
• 2, quart-sized mason or canning jars with lids


Mixing bowl, chef’s knife and cutting board Instructions: Clean everything, making sure your mason jar is washed and rinsed and your hands are clean. Slice the cabbage, discarding the wilted, limp outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into quarters and trim out the core, slicing each quarter down its length, making 8 wedges. Slice each wedge crosswise into very thin ribbons. Combine the cabbage and salt, transferring the cabbage to a big mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over the top. Begin working the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands for 5 to 10 minutes. Take handfuls of the cabbage and pack it into the jar, tamping down the cabbage every so often with your fist. Add filtered water, making sure the cabbage is submerged under water–keep at least 2 inches at the top for the cabbage to bubble and expand in the jar. Seal the container and allow it to culture for 7 to 10 days, keeping it out of direct sunlight at room temperature. Check every day to ensure the cabbage is submerged under water and add filtered water if it isn’t. If mold begins to grow on top (which can be common), simply scoop it off with a metal spoon.


Kefir is a milk product made from kefir grains, which are composed of colonies of live beneficial bacteria and yeast bound together. Kefir is created in a similar process to yogurt and has a similar tart flavor and creamy consistency, but is more healthful than yogurt, possessing natural antibiotics bolstering the immune system, a rich source of vitamins (e.g. B1, B12, calcium, folate, phosphorus and vitamin K), while also promoting bowel regularity.
• 1 tablespoon of kefir grains per 1 cup of milk
• 1-2 cups whole, pasteurized, but not homogenized organic milk; (or) raw whole milk ; (or) 1-2 cans organic coconut milk
• 1, quart-sized mason or canning jar with lid Instructions: To make kefir, place 1 to 2 tablespoons of kefir grains in a mason jar (using the 1 tablespoon kefir grains to 1 cup milk ratio).


Add the appropriate amount of milk to the jar and seal securely, storing the kefir out of direct sunlight on the counter or in a cabinet at room temperature for 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove the kefir grains with a slotted spoon or mesh strainer and add the kefir grains to fresh milk to begin another batch of kefir. Store the newly made kefir in a sealed mason jar and refrigerate (lasts up to 1 year).

Another option is to “second ferment” the kefir after the initial 24-hour period is through. To do this, simply remove the kefir grains and place the kefir in a sealed mason jar on the counter or in a cabinet at room temperature for another 12 to 24 hours. If you’d like to flavor the kefir during the second-fermentation process, add a lemon wedge, a dash of organic fruit juice, cinnamon–whatever you wish to add to give it an enhanced flavor.

When taking a break from making kefir, you can store the kefir grains by adding them to cow’s or goat’s milk in a sealed mason jar in the refrigerator—adding 1 cup of milk per week you plan on taking a hiatus (for example, if you’re away from home and wish to store the kefir for two weeks, add two cups of milk). This ensures the kefir cultures are fed and kept alive for future use.

NOTE: When using coconut milk, you will need to add the kefir grains back to cow’s or goat’s milk after every few batches for 24 hours to revitalize them. Ultimately, kefir grains prefer cow’s or goat’s milk.


  • Cultured Food Life by Donna Schwenk
  • The Body Ecology by Donna Gates
  • Wilderness Family Naturals – Purveyors of Natural Products
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