September 30, 2013
I’ve been wanting to try fermenting for quite a while now but something seemed to always edge ahead of it on the priority list. Earlier this year I spent seven long days in the hospital with an antibiotic resistant staph infection. It got a little out of hand and progressed to something called, “cellulitis” which is a serious skin and tissue infection that can result in death if not properly treated and managed (no biggie). There was also talk of “necrotizing fasciitis,” a sciencey term for tissue death (also, no biggie). It sucked. We had to wait a few days to get a culture back to figure out what antibiotics would most likely kill my infection. Once I got started on the right antibiotic my body quickly and dramatically improved. Being able to bend my leg became an exciting achievement!
It’s not new news to most that overuse of antibiotics is one of the main contributors to these superbugs that form resistance to them. MRSA, the infection I had, is MUCH more common now than it was even just five years ago. While antibiotics are overused and overprescribed, they definitely have a place and this was one of them. Being on antibiotics should be a last choice though. In addition to the mutating superbugs, antibiotics can also muck up the bacteria balance in our guts. Illness, stress, and a low fiber diet can do this too.
Most of you by now have heard of probiotics. These are the good guys, the good bacteria. Keeping these tiny microbiota in our guts in a proper balance turns out to be very important. We have a plethora of illnesses and infections in us waiting for “good bugs” to take a hit and dwindle. In addition to keeping the bad bacteria in check, we are just starting to scratch the surface with learning all the jobs that these guys have! Probiotics have been getting credit for healthy digestion, decreased inflammation, protection against infection, decreasing allergic responses, boosting immunity, decreased fatigue, weight and mood regulation… and on and on. Some of these have more research to back them than others. What’s important to note is that just about all of these are “mays” meaning there isn’t enough evidence to say we know for sure they do all these things. If you follow my blog, you will learn that I’m a hard evidence type of girl. If you are my client, I won’t prescribe a diet that is full of probiotics to decrease your allergies or inflammation because of the evidence just isn’t there. While there is lot we still don’t know about probiotics, we do know this: they are important. The more that research on probiotics advances, the more important they become. We know eating fermented foods won’t hurt us and has benefits beyond just the probiotics for us. For example, the purple cabbage kraut I made is packed full of fiber and is a cancer fighting antioxidant power house. I think of it as another way to get my veggies in. We have raw, steamed, roasted, sautéed, and fermented! Plus, it’s an easy way to preserve food and that’s really cool too. Stay tuned for what’s been stinking up the basement and my kitchen!