Liver Cleansing

I’ve been thinking a lot about the liver this week as a friend of mine went to the doctor and found out, much to her surprise, that she has an enlarged liver and elevated blood sugar levels. I volunteered to help her out with learning more about the liver and how to gently detox it and what foods will support bringing her liver back to health. This was a wake up call for my friend, and as far as we know so far, this problem stems from her diet. I have known how important the liver is in our overall health, and the importance of taking care of it. I do partake in a cleanse every Spring to cleanse my liver and other important digestive organs, and with Spring just around the corner I think liver cleansing is a great topic to talk about!

Lets talk a little bit about the life of the liver. The liver is the major filter of the blood stream. It screens everything in the blood entering it. Most toxins are immediately set upon by liver cells in order to de-activate them. The difference between a person with symptoms and one without is often related to whether the liver can handle intestinal toxins and still have enough capacity left to do its other jobs. The liver is not only the detoxifier of poisons of intestinal origin. Heavy metals such as aluminum, copper, lead, mercury, and cadmium that find their way into the blood should be de-activated by the liver. Coffee toxins, alcohol, nicotine, drugs, pesticides, and additives should also be broken down quickly by the liver. A liver overloaded with intestinal toxins is more vulnerable to the cumulative effects of these. In effect the liver is the main regulator of the blood. It regulates contents of blood including sugars, fats, protein, and hormones, which are messengers from other parts of the body. Many of the symptoms of disease are a result of the liver being unable to regulate properly due to an overload of toxins, many of which come from fermentation or putrefaction in the intestines. The liver regulates the blood sugar level, along with the pancreas and the adrenal glands. It, along with the gallbladder regulate blood fat levels. The liver produces bile to help with fat digestion, ad also processes the end products of digestion, and stores things for future use. When these organs are rendered sluggish by intestinal toxins, they don’t regulate adequately. This is the single most important cause of high blood fat levels. The other main substance that the liver regulates is hormones. Hormones are messengers secreted by glands which travel through the blood to tell cells what they should be doing, to help maintain smooth functioning of all the cells together. Everything that happens in our body is regulated by hormones, right down to feeling hungry and thirsty. Poor liver function can result in sluggish hormone breakdown, and our entire body systems being out of whack.

From this information we can see how important the liver is to us, this amazing organ has more than a thousand known functions that I have barely even begun to touch on. Taking care of your entire digestive system can really help prevent your liver from getting too bogged down by toxins, and allow it to function properly. This can include taking Probiotics to keep a healthy gut flora, or drinking Kefir or Kombucha, which will help keep the toxins down, or eliminate them all together.

If you have inflammation in your liver or it’s in need of some love, these are the foods you should avoid:

Coffee: aggravates liver function (its acids break down stored fats in the liver) and therefore contributes to irritability and anxiety. In addition, the oils in coffee can increase blood cholesterol.

Nuts: are the most concentrated vegetable source of oils and, if eaten in excess, challenge the liver.

Seeds: also have a high oil content that may also make them a digestive challenge for people with a compromised liver.

Foods that support a healthy liver are:

-Apple -Summer Squash -Onion -Artichoke -Strawberries -Orange

-Avocado -Vinegar -Peppers -Basil -Water Chestnut -Plums

-Beans and Legumes -Wheat Grass Juice -Pomegranate

-Beet -Broccoli -Raspberries -Blackberry -Brussels Sprouts -Rhubarb

-Cabbage -Celery -Rosemary Essential Oil -Chard -Cherry -Rutabaga

-Cumin -Dandelion -Rye -Dates -Fennel -Sesame Seeds -Garlic -Ginger -Spirulina

-Grapes -Grapefruit -Kale -Kombucha -Lemon -Lettuce-Mint -Olive Oil

Supplements to support a healthy liver:

-L-Carnitine -Vitamin C -B Vitamins -Essential Fatty Acids -Vitamin A -Probiotics

When it comes to cleansing the liver, I usually use Renew Life First Cleanse. It’s gentle, but effective, and reasonably priced. The best herbs to look for when you are shopping for a cleanse are:

Milk Thistle, Burdock Root, Beet Root, Blessed Thistle, Dandelion Root, Garlic, Peppermint Leaf, Yarrow, and Yellow Dock Root.

Be sure to speak to your health care practitioner before starting any cleanses!

Another thing that can contribute to an unhealthy liver is anger. Anger manifests itself in the liver. There isn’t any amount of cleansing or healing foods that are going to heal your liver if you are holding onto a lot of anger. I personally can understand that letting go of anger isn’t easy. It takes time and a lot of work. Looking after your health, practicing self-care, and doing the things that make you happy, meditating and yoga can also help. As well as any kind of physical activity or exercise that will get your endorphins going and releases tension are also helpful. If you have someone you can talk to, a support system can also help work out your anger. No amount of anger is worth your physical or emotional health, please keep that in mind 🙂

 

 

 

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Anti-Nutrients: What Are They and What Do They Do?

It’s been awhile! Sorry I’ve been MIA… but I have been working on something really great and hope I will be able to share it with you all very soon!

Today I want to talk to you about Anti-Nutrients. These are exactly as they are named… not a nutrient. Seems simple, you eat something that isn’t nutritious, not a great choice, but is it really that bad? Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as that. Anti-Nutrients are foods that ‘cancel out’ or ‘rob’ your body of its essential micro-nutrients. A quick definition would be that if a food you eat needs more nutrients for the body to use it than what the food itself gives, it is an anti-nutrient. Living on these foods can gradually create a toxic overload and rob your body of vital nutrients to function. An Anti-Nutrient overload makes it very difficult for your body to eliminate toxins.

Anti- Nutrients can come from deep fried foods, refined sugar, additives, cans and plastic containers, alcohol, pain killers, antibiotics, pollution, environmental chemicals in water, and excessive free radicals from smoking. Two-thirds of the average calorie intake in modern countries consists of fat, refined sugar, and refined flour.

Within these Anti-Nutrients there are also ’empty’ calories. They are called ’empty’ because they provide no nutrients, and are often hidden in processed foods and snacks that are in the form of refined sugars. I find the best way to remember what foods are packed with extra empty calories, and also contain ingredients that rob our bodies of essential nutrients, making us feel sluggish and tired is to use: C.R.A.P.

C- carbonated drinks

R- refined sugar

A- artificial colours and flavourings. Also Alcohol

P- processed products

Carbonated Drinks: It is thought that one of the main causes of today’s obesity epidemic is the over consumption of soft drinks and fruit juices.

Refined Sugars: This category includes white flour, refined sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup. All of these are often combined in pastries, cookies, cakes, yogurt, and cereals.

Artificial Colours and Flavourings: These are anti-nutrients which are often included in confectionary products (sweets, candy), soft drinks, party foods, and snacks such as chips. “A” also stands for alcohol, which is considered a toxin.

Processed Products: Heavily processed foods such as ice cream, party foods, sausages, hams, and deli, smoked or cured meats are more likely to contain all of the above, plus trans fats, which are considered a danger to health!

I do understand we are all human, and we do get cravings and we do sometimes binge, however it is essential to try to figure out what is fuelling these cravings or needs to binge. There are three major categories, or causes for cravings: Addiction/Allergy, Discharge, and Imbalance of the System. When you try to stop eating these anti-nutrients to get healthy, you may run into some major withdrawal symptoms or cravings, so it would be helpful for you to know what your body is trying to tell you. Sometimes cravings are just something that our body is telling us we need, and aren’t bad at all.

Addiction is when you stop eating a food you are addicted to and you get withdrawal symptoms, such as headache, depression, or tension, so you then eat that food again and those symptoms go away. Working through the craving and identifying it as an addiction, will help you overcome this situation, so that you don’t fall back into the same addiction.

Allergies are when you eat the food, you get a headache, depression, tension, etc. but you are still drawn to eat that food and fight through those symptoms because the craving won’t stop and we don’t realize that it’s the food causing those symptoms, or that simply they could go away if we stopped eating the food.

Discharge is when you stop eating the foods, and your body is in the healing process, the toxins that have built up from the sugar and other anti-nutrients are being put back into the blood stream to be filtered through the kidneys, liver, etc. they pass by our hypothalamus on this journey and our hypothalamus picks up residue in the blood that activates ‘memories’ of all that good food we ate and makes us crave it all over again.

Imbalance of Systems occurs when we eat a diet that is rich in one area and isn’t balanced out by another. An example of this would be a craving for sweets (carbohydrates) could come from either an excessively high protein, fat, or mineral/vitamin (even salt) intake. A craving for animal protein could come from an excess of carbohydrates, minerals (including salt), fluids, or fats. A craving for sweets, that is accompanied by a craving for fats, can also signal a deficiency in protein.

Eliminating the Anti-Nutrient foods that we have become so accustomed to having in our regular diets, and working our way through the cravings, and figuring out the right balance for our bodies, is essential to good health. You can do it!

Beautiful Skin and Hair

Our skin is the largest organ of the body. The outer layer of the skin is called the Epidermis, which has the ability to constantly regenerate itself, producing new cells and shedding the dead ones.

The appearance and the condition of your skin are essential to your overall health. When your body’s skin is healthy it works harder to protect your body. The condition of your skin will also reflect in its smoothness, hydration, and even its colour. There are a number of different internal and external factors that affect your skins health. Some of these factors are out of our control, but there are many others that we are in control of to keep our skin healthy and looking good. Factors affecting skin are genetics and hormones (puberty, pregnancy, menopause). Some controllable factors affecting skin are UV radiation, aggressive products, workplace chemicals, washing too much, nutrition (a poor diet is one of the leading causes of dry skin, when you consume a well-balanced diet with all the right minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, you will help keep your skin healthy and in good condition. Make sure your diet has a mix of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean sources of protein), therapeutic treatments, lack of exercise, and smoking.

Just drinking more water isn’t enough to clear dry skin. There is more and more evidence supporting healthy food choices to improve the skin’s overall health and vibrancy. Eating a well balanced diet can shave year’s off your appearance. The right balance of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins will not only repair damaged skin it will also maintain its health and enhance it’s appearance.

Some common skin problems and how to deal with them are:

Dark circles under your eyes, is caused by too much sodium/salt. Increasing your potassium levels (bananas, coconut water) is very helpful, because potassium turns sodium to waste.

Acne is often caused by a poor diet. A diet high in sugar, specifically refined sugar, and heavily processed foods.

Eczema is also diet related. Reducing sugar and dairy intake can greatly reduce or even eliminate eczema.

There are many great foods that you need to be adding to your diet to increase the nutrients that are essential to healthy skin and hair. The nutrients that are essential to healthy skin and hair are Vitamins A, C, E, K, Biotin (B7), Calcium, Zinc, Omega 3, Inositol, Glutamine, and Selenium. Here are just a few foods packed full of these nutrients to get you started:

  1. Egg yolks
  2. Leafy green vegetables
  3. Seeds and nuts
  4. Fermented foods
  5. Fresh garlic

Tomatoes are also great for skin, high in Vitamin C and Lycopene. Lycopene is the skin’s natural SPF.

Having a healthy gut flora is very important to beautiful skin and hair. It is important for the production of many nutrients that we keep our “friendly”  colon bacteria active and doing their job. To aid this process we should minimize our use of oral antibiotics, avoid excess sugars and processed foods, and occasionally evaluate and treat any abnormal organisms interfering in our colon, such as yeasts or parasites. See my blog post Let’s Talk Probiotics and Prebiotics to get your gut flora healthy.

The next best thing you should be considering is to eliminate the chemicals from your beauty routine. There are a wide range of natural skin care products out there (I make some myself that can be purchased). Always be sure to do your research and  read labels. Many makeup companies that claim their products are mineral based, but only contain 10% or less minerals and the rest is a chemical disaster. You can’t always control what your skin is absorbing, so it’s essential to be conscious of what you are putting directly on your skin. Over-washing your skin and hair will strip away the natural oils and make your skin and hair extra dry, and lack luster. Do what works for you, and add some of these tips to get beautiful skin and hair!

Sprouts

Today I’m talking sprouts. In my last post about 5 Foods to Beat The Winter Blues I listed sprouts as one of those foods. I would like to expand more on sprouts and all of the benefits that they contain. As well as how to grow your own.

Any ‘seed’ that has the potential to grow into a plant, is sproutable. There are so many possibilities: adzuki, alfalfa, buckwheat, clover, fenugreek, garbanzo, lentil, mung, radish, soybean, sunflower, wheat, barley, corn, oats, green peas, and lima beans. When a seed sprouts into a new plant, a lot of the stored nutrients burst out of the seed, into the seedling, and these little sprouts, including the seed, grain, or bean with its shoot and greenery become full of nutrients! During this time the protein content in the sprouts increases between 15% to 30%, depending on the plant. Also the chlorophyll and fiber content increases. Chlorophyll itself is rich in nutrients and has many health giving properties, including inhibiting yeast in the intestinal tract and is soothing to the intestinal membrane.

Sprouts are raw, living foods that contain active enzymes that help digestion and assimilation. They have the ability to detoxify the body, especially the liver. They support the kidneys, spleen, and stomach and are known for toning for the blood. It is much easier to digest sprouts, than the seed or bean itself. With sprouting, most of the B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin C are increased immensely.

You can find many different kinds of sprouts in the grocery store these days, or your local health food store. Alfalfa sprouts are definitely the most common, and are often used in salads or sandwiches. Bean sprouts are the also common in the grocery store, which are mung bean sprouts, and often used in stirfys or Asian cooking. When purchasing sprouts in a store, it is important to choose fresh and vibrant-looking sprouts that have no signs of brown discolouration, a slimy texture, or a musty aroma. Looking for organic and locally sourced sprouts are essential.

Growing your own sprouts can be very easy, and even more beneficial, because you know how and where they were grown. A couple of ways to grow sprouts is to plant the seeds or beans the same as you would if you were starting a garden, with dirt. Plant the seeds as directed on the package or if you are using beans or seeds you have purchased for other uses you would need to put a few seeds in each hole that you have dug in the dirt, about one inch into the soil, add water, and cover back over with soil. When the sprouts have grown, about one to two inches tall, you can cut the sprouts off at the level of the dirt or pull them out. Wash them well, and enjoy!

If dirt isn’t your jam (it’s not for everyone), that’s ok too! I use this UFO looking sprout grower that I bought from a booth at a homesteading show last year, and if you can find one I highly recommend it! It’s so easy to use and clean. sprouter

sprouter2

I usually just sprout mung beans, but I have done split peas and garbanzo beans. Take 2 tablespoons of mung beans, spread them out on the wire rack, rinse them with filtered water, and fill the bottom of the sprouter with filtered water until it just touches the bottom of the beans. Put the lid on and let them sit and grow. Every 12 hours you have to dump the water out and rinse the beans until they are sprouted and ready to eat. I find with mung beans it only takes 24 hours for them to be ready to eat. The split peas and the garbanzo beans took closer to 72 hours. You can also use the same process in a jar. Just repeat the process, but covering the seeds or beans with water and cover the jar with a paper towel and elastic band. I’m trying sesame seeds and flax seeds right now in a jar, because the seeds are too small and will fall through the wires. seed-sproutsI’ve never done seeds before, so we will see how it goes.

It is thought that sprouts are likely the most vitally alive and nourishing foods we can eat. We can sprout seeds, beans, and grains all year round. They are a good source of nutrients in the wintertime, when there are less leafy greens and other vegetables available. Eating high amounts of sprouted foods, along with other vegetables and fruits, promotes optimum health. Add sprouts to your sandwiches, salads, stir fry, smoothies, or just on their own. So please add sprouts to your diet ASAP! You won’t regret it. mung-bean-sprouts

 

5 Foods to Beat The Winter Blues

Well… we’re nearing the end of January. It’s been a long winter so far, with some very crazy weather. Winter itself can leave some people feeling blue, from the lack of sunshine and the tendency to want to stay inside and hibernate. I know I am one of those people. So, I have come up with a list of 5 foods to help boost your mood, and beat those winter blues!

Before we get to the list though, I would like to mention that one underlying factor that can affect our moods is a poor control of blood-sugar levels. Keeping blood-sugar levels more even can be achieved by eating small regular meals of natural, unprocessed foods, including protein and fiber at each one. This keeps us off the blood-sugar roller coaster that can happen when we don’t consume a balanced meal, with low to zero sugar, and those mid-afternoon crashes that can really bring us down.

The foods I have selected for this list are high in B Vitamins, including B6, B12, and Folic Acid, which are essential for balancing the hormones in our brain that make us happy! Other important nutrients in brain health are Omega 3s, tryptophan, zinc, chromium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, help us feel better during the winter months when we can’t get enough sunshine.

Now to the list:

Salmon: Salmon is very high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for building and rebuilding your brain. They also help boost you serotonin levels, the hormone that makes us happy! Salmon also contains Vitamin D.  Always make sure when you are purchasing salmon that it is wild caught, and not farmed. Farmed salmon is pumped full of steroids and antibiotics and fed a diet that is not meant for any kind of fish.

Eggs: Eggs are high in vitamins B2 and B12, D, and the amino acid Tryptophan. B12 boosts energy and is essential for the health of our nervous systems. B Vitamins help promote Tryptophan, which is an amino acid that is important for serotonin production, as well as melatonin (the sleep hormone). When I’m saying eat eggs, I mean eat the whole egg! The yolk is where all the amazing vitamins are coming from, and the egg white is important too. When you are purchasing eggs, the best you can get are free-run, farm fresh. If you are lucky enough to know a farmer that you can get your eggs from, please do! If you don’t, maybe do a little research and try to find someone in your area who sells eggs. Farm fresh, free-run eggs are not only better for you and the chicken, but taste so much better too!

Green Leafy Vegetables: This includes spinach, kale, beet greens, chard, asparagus, and broccoli. These leafy wonders are full of Folic Acid, one of the main essential nutrients needed in the production of serotonin and proper brain function. Try to aim for organic leafy vegetables. Unfortunately leafy vegetables are really bad for being sprayed with pesticides.

Sprouts: These guys are nutrient powerhouses! They are packed full of so many good nutrients and active enzymes for digestion. Some of the main nutrients that sprouts have, are B Vitamins! You can find different varieties of sprouts at the grocery store or health food store. Alfalfa and Mung Bean sprouts being the most popular. You can also very easily grow your own sprouts at home, where you know they will be fresh and what went into them and on them from the beginning to end. You can eat sprouts on their own, in salads, on sandwiches, in salads, or even in a stir fry.

Oats: My last mood boosting food is oats. Oats are packed full of B vitamins and folic acid. Really keep that serotonin going. Oats also have a high amount of complex carbohydrates that provide sustained energy, and contain about 10% to 15% protein. This will keep your blood sugar balanced too. There’s lots of different brands of oats out there. Try to keep them organic.

In all, I went with foods rich in B Vitamins, Folic Acid, and essential fatty acids for brain health. As well as vitamin D the ‘sunshine’ vitamin.  Keeping our brains healthy and producing serotonin, which is particularly low in the winter, is what will boost our moods and keep us happy. If you are under a lot of stress, then your serotonin levels will be even more depleted and it is even more important to eat these foods and boost your serotonin production.

Other tips to beat your winter blues… get moving! Exercise can be as effective in boosting your mood as antidepressants. Do something that you really enjoy, so you will keep up with it. 30-60 minutes 3 to 5 days a week is ideal. You can also get a full-spectrum light bulb, they have the same quality of light as the sun.

 

 

 

Castor Oil Packs

I want to share with you an amazing healing therapy that you can do at home, with only a few simple ingredients.

Castor Oil Packs! Castor oil is so simple, it is often overlooked at how healing it really is. The first documented use of castor oil is from an ancient Egyptian document from 1550 BC. It was also used extensively in Eastern Europe centuries ago in the form of an external compress.

As an external oil pack, it has been used to treat a variety of health conditions such as, arthritis, liver and intestinal disorders, tumors, small benign cysts, breast cysts, fibroids, ovarian cysts, congestion of abdominal organs, skin conditions, and adhesions from surgery. Wherever there is congestion, decreased blood flow, and need for healing, castor oil can be an effective treatment option. It boosts your immune system, has a balancing effect on the autonomic nervous system, increases liver activity and improves digestion.

So… how does castor oil work exactly? Castor oil is a unique substance having an unusual chemical composition of triglyceride made up of fatty acids. Almost 90 percent of this fatty acid content is in the form of ricioleic acid, which is undoubtedly the main therapeutic agent. It comes from the poisonous bean of the castor bean plant. The oil is extracted from the leaves, leaving behind the poisonous properties, which results in a nearly scentless, thick oil.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE A CASTOR OIL PACK:

  1. Castor oil, cold pressed and organic
  2. Wool or cotton flannel, or an old towel cut to size to cover the area being treated
  3. Towel
  4. Hot water bottle

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There are a couple of ways to use castor oil as a pack. Using the piece of cotton or wool cut to the size of the area you would like to cover, you will need to cover the piece of fabric with castor oil, so it is well saturated, but not dripping. Place the material over the area you would like to use the pack on. Place the hot water bottle on top of the oil soaked fabric, and maintain constant warmth throughout the treatment. Cover the hot water bottle with another towel to keep the heat in. Be careful not to burn your skin.

Another way to use castor oil as a pack, and the way I use it because I think it’s a lot easier and I find, less messy. You apply the castor oil directly to the area you would like to treat. Use a good amount, but not so it’s dripping off your skin. Gently massage into the area, in a clockwise motion. Then place the towel over the area, apply the water bottle, and cover with another towel. Be sure to use old towels, because castor oil will stain!! It is also really, really sticky! If you are going to massage the oil into your skin, your hands will be covered, I like to massage the oil into my hands and nails until it is absorbed… which can take a while haha.

The main areas I use castor oil packs on are my abdomen, mostly for digestion. It is also good for the uterus, to clear congestion, and dissolve any scar tissue. So I apply the oil from the base of my ribs to my pelvic bones, cover with a towel and then apply heat. I also will apply the packs to my underarms, and massage the area to clear any congestion in my lymph nodes.

You really can’t use castor oil too much. A good start would be to use it every other night for three weeks, take the fourth week off, and then continue again until symptoms subside.

You shouldn’t use castor oil packs during times of heavy bleeding, gaseous stomach, intestinal conditions, or pregnancy. Please consult your health care provider before adding any new therapy to your health regime. There are suggestions of taking castor oil internally, please don’t. If by any chance you develop a rash from castor oil, discontinue use, and try using sesame oil instead.

Castor oil can also be used on children and babies. Massage into their arms, legs, or tummy and don’t add any heat. This can be great for constipation or colic.

I hope that you are able to give castor oil a try and you can discover all of the healing benefits this oil has, that I have.

 

 

Let’s Talk Probiotics and Prebiotics

It’s the beginning of a new year. A new you. Why not add Probiotics to your health routine? or try something new to shake up your mundane Probiotic routine. After a lot of indulging over the holidays, my own digestive system has had enough, and needs a bit of TLC, and maybe yours does too.

One thing I can do for my digestive system to get it back on track is to get some healthy bacteria growing in there again.

There are 6 proven health benefits of Probiotics:

  1. Improve our digestion
  2. Produce Vitamins
  3. Lower Cholesterol Levels
  4. Regulate Hormones
  5. Boost our Immunity
  6. Increase Resistance to Infections

They are also helpful when you are under a large amount of stress. I’m not sure about you, but that sounds like a whole lot of good stuff. Especially during the winter months when our immune systems are tested daily with Colds and Flu, and of course the holiday overindulgence and stress.

There are 8 situations where Probiotics are necessary for your body:

  1. When you have an Infection
  2. Food Poisoning
  3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  4. Cancer
  5. Constipation
  6. After a course of antibiotics
  7. After surgery
  8. At times of prolonged stress

There are some great ways to get Probiotics to add to your daily routine. There are supplements that you can find, the most important having the bacteria strains Lactobacillus Acidopholous, and Bifodous. If you are Lactose Intolerant there are strains of Dopholous you can find without the Lactose. You can get Water Kefir or Milk Kefir grains, Kombucha, fermented foods, such as Sauerkraut, Kimchi, or Tempeh. Or even Yogurt has Probiotics. With yogurt, be sure that it isn’t high in sugar. Too much sugar will continue to feed the bad bacteria, and not allow the good bacteria to have a chance to grow and survive. There are so many different products out there now, be sure to do your research and speak with your health care provider before adding Probiotics to your daily routine.

Prebiotics are also very important, and often neglected when we talk about gut health. Prebiotics are what feed the Probiotics. It’s not something we really think about, but it is essential for the healthy gut bacteria to have something healthy to feed on. Prebiotics can be found in food. The best sources are: bananas, barley, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, soy beans, and wheat.

I like to use Water Kefir grains to get my Probiotics. I will show you here a couple of great ways to use them.

When I first purchased my Water Kefir grains they looked like this:

water-kefir

It was a tiny little package, with a small amount of these dried out little grains. I didn’t feel very confident about being able to do anything with them. But, I took them home and hoped for the best! There are lots of guidelines when using Kefir grains, because they are very sensitive. It is recommended to not use metal with your grains, that includes spoons, bowls, containers, and strainers. Plastic, glass, and wood are all good though!

The first thing you have to do is feed your Kefir Grains, so they can grow. They feed on sugar, fruits, and minerals. You will have to do a couple of rounds of fermentation before you are able to drink the Kefir that you are making.

To start, I took a large mason jar, put the grains in the bottom and filled the jar 3/4 of the way with filtered water. It is not recommended to use filtered water because it doesn’t have many minerals left in it, but the only mineral water I could find was carbonated, and I wasn’t sure if that would work or not, and I didn’t want to risk it. Tap water has chlorine in it and that can kill your grains! I added a teaspoon of Pink Himalayan Salt to add minerals to the water. Then I put in half a cup of organic cane sugar, and stirred it up with a wooden spoon. Don’t worry about the thought of there being too much sugar when you do want to drink your Kefir, because the grains eat the majority of it, and there isn’t a significant amount, if any, left over.

img_0567

Mason jar with Kefir grains, water, cane sugar, Pink Himalayan Salt, and the spoon I used to stir.

 

I then put a paper towel over the top of the jar and secured it with an elastic band. If you put a tight lid on, where your grains can’t breath, it is possible for the fermentation to create enough gas for your jar to explode. They need to be stored out of direct sunlight, so in a cupboard is fine.

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Mason jar with Kefir grains in the bottom. Paper towel over top with elastic band.

 

Then you sit back and let them do their thing! You can stir them every once in a while to get the nutrients moving around in there, but mostly I forgot about mine and didn’t do too much with them. Let them work their magic for 48 hours, unless it’s exceptionally warm in your cupboard, then it can take less time. Try to keep an eye on them. When the time is up, take them out and strain the Kefir Grains from the water. Your Kefir should have a sweet, fermented smell to it. There will be slight carbonation, but that increases after you have bottled your Kefir water. It could also have some scum, which is completely normal too.

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This is what your Kefir grains will look like after you feed them a couple of times.

 

 

After you have fermented your Kefir water you can flavour your Kefir water by adding fruit, like lemon, or berries, or ginger. You can add fruit juice, or even vanilla extract for a cream soda type taste.

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I put my Kefir water in this bottle (sorry for the label) and juiced a piece of ginger to add.

 

After you have done the fermentation like above, you strain the Kefir Grains out, and put the liquid into a bowl, or if you can, right into a clean bottle or jar. When you put the lid on your bottle or jar keep it fairly loose, to prevent explosions. It is best not to fill the jar to the top, and you should ‘burp’ your Kefir water occasionally. Which is just taking the lid off for a few seconds and then putting it back on.

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Kefir water with ginger juice in the bottle.

 

I also really enjoy using coconut milk. I buy the Organic coconut milk that comes in a carton (it has sugar in it already). I put my Kefir Grains in the mason jar, fill the jar 3/4s full with the coconut milk, put the paper towel and elastic band over the top, and away it goes! 48 hours later I strain out the grains and put my coconut milk kefir into a glass jug. It keeps well in the jug, in my fridge for about 4 or 5 days. I like adding it to smoothies, or I will add a bit of honey to it and drink it straight The possibilities are endless! Experiment and have fun with it! I definitely recommend that you remove the grains before adding any juice or flavour extracts, because that can make your grains flavoured or dyed a different colour.

If you aren’t going to use your Kefir Grains again right away, leave a small amount of liquid in the bottom of the jar and put your Kefir Grains back into the jar you just used and put them in your fridge. They will keep like this for quite awhile, because they go dormant. Then you can just bring them out again and start the process over. You can also start making another batch of Kefir right away if you would like as well.

When you start drinking the Kefir that you are making, it’s important to start with a small amount and work your way up. If you drink too much at first, and you have a large amount of bad bacteria in your system, the good bacteria in the Kefir will kill off the bad bacteria too quickly and can give you flu like symptoms, such as fever, nausea, and diarrhea. Go slow, the benefits will be so worth it!!

Let me know how making Water Kefir works for you or what you like to take for Probiotics 🙂