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Healing from within

Many years ago, at a time when I was fascinated with cooking, a very dear friend told me that I should devote myself to teaching people about healing from within. Her premonition, at least a decade ahead of its time, made no sense to me. How could I care about that if I was just learning to enjoy blending flavours, textures and colours. Not for a second did I think that years later I would have to stop cooking the wonders I was creating. Life takes so many twists and turns, but eventually it all makes sense.

I had to go through the painful process of illness to become aware of the damage I was doing to myself and my loved ones.

In reality, illness often becomes a turning point for many individuals, propelling them to make significant changes they wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Sadly, the most unfortunate aspect, particularly concerning the harmful effects of certain foods, is that when the illness finally surfaces, it means that the damages have been silently developing over many years, even decades. Because of this, throughout this entire period, people remain oblivious to the gradual changes occurring within their bodies, experiencing symptoms that they merely attempt to alleviate with painkillers or medications, which, regrettably, do little more than mask the truth they are reluctant to face..

So are we to blame for our own illnesses?

Well, yes and no. If you have smoked cigarettes all your life and then the doctor tells you that you have lung cancer or a tumor in your brain, it shouldn’t be a big surprise. Even if it sounds terrible to say, because you are aware of having done something that we know today causes harm. But if, on the other hand, you have always eaten healthily, never abused tobacco, medicines or other drugs and the doctor tells you that you have cancer or a chronic or autoimmune disease, then are you really to blame for the disease you have?. Today I believe that in the vast majority of cases you are not consciously guilty.

Consciousness vs. Misinformation: Two Opposing Realities

Today there are many people who are very well informed of the harm caused by certain foods and the constant and permanent consumption of them. However, there is another great mass of people who are completely uninformed and totally oblivious about food. And it is understandable, life happens quickly, we have less and less time to cook. As a consequence, food is there, at our fingertips, it is just a matter of buying and consuming it, no need to think any further.

Here is where I believe one of the main problems lies. The availability of food and even more so processed food today, especially in developed countries, is huge. The industrial revolution and the development of biochemistry for the preservation of food has reached a point where today we can eat a piece of meat that was packaged 6 months ago or milk that is 4 months old or vegetables that are more than a year old, let alone breads, biscuits and sweets.

Only 50 years ago that hardly existed. And just as we talk on a mobile phone without caring about the technology behind its operation, we do the same thing with food. We open the bag, take out the meat, throw it on the grill, eat it, enjoy it and say “Mmm.. so tasty”. We don’t even look at the label, even though the poor cow has been dead for six months. Our ancestors would be astonished.

Awakening

Those who are a little bit more aware. In addition, those who take the time and check the labels, would be suspicious of the packaging date and why the meat still looks so fresh. And if they look more closely at the small print, they will see the amount of chemicals (colouring agents, anticoagulants, etc.) in the packaged meat . Not to mention the antibiotics, hormones and stress to which the poor animal was subjected to.

And so we gradually enter into an unknown world where we will discover that there is virtually no food today that is free of potential risks to our health. Just to mention a few, apart from meat; chickens with hormones, antibiotics in fish, chlorine and fluoride in water (both poisonous), pesticides in fruits and vegetables, genetically modified grains, bromide in flour (another poison), excessive chemical preservatives and stabilizers in all preserved food, fluoride in toothpaste, carcinogenic chemicals in make-up, creams, sunscreens and hair dyes, aluminum in deodorants, vegetable oils (highly harmful), excess sugar and salt, sulphites in wines and nuts, GMO soy, synthetic milks, chemical beverages. And the list goes on and on.

The Price of Health

Here I stop and apologize for this long introduction, but I cannot go straight to the subject of fermented foods without first going through the reasons why we need them today.

Well. What’s the point of knowing all these problems with food, if in the end we still have to eat something. Organic and sin-free foods are hard to come by and very expensive, far beyond the reach of most people?.

It is true, and it is the answer I get from many people when I start talking about all these issues with food. However, it is the starting point of the conversation, as this leads us to talk about the effect of these foods on our health. While I am not a doctor, nutritionist or scientist, the information I share is the result of years of reading and I will always name the sources of information in the footnotes. The main harm that all these modified foods cause to our bodies, is that they create imbalances in our digestive system, in our metabolism, inflammation and finally damage to the tissues and organs, which eventually turns into diseases.

But why does this happen?

Healing from within. An illustration of the human microbiome.

Well, it turns out that in our body there is something that science today calls “Microbiome” and that corresponds to the trillions, I said it right, trillions of microorganisms that live inside and outside of us, mainly in our intestines, on our skin, genitals and mucous membranes. These micro-organisms can be bacteria, fungi and yeasts and they are in charge of keeping us balanced and healthy. They are in charge of extracting nutrients from food, protecting us from external pathogens such as viruses, and keeping our immune system and brain informed about what is going on. Without these microorganisms, we simply could not live.

The problem arises when we consume substances that harm our essential microorganisms, especially our gut flora. Drinking chlorinated water, eating pesticide-laden fruits, taking antibiotics, excessive alcohol, inhaling bleach, or using germicidal gels all contribute to the loss of millions of vital microorganisms. This persistent damage over the years leads to “dysbiosis,” an imbalance in our gut flora, ultimately leading to illness.

More than Good Digestion: The Importance of a Healthy Gut Flora

Contrary to what many people still wrongly think, having a healthy gut flora is not just about having good digestion. It is much more than that. Every time we eat something, food molecules are broken down by these microorganisms and essential nutrients are extracted from them and then transferred into the bloodstream through the walls of the intestine. Furthermore. without this flora, there is no absorption of nutrients and people can become malnourished or have serious digestive problems because they do not have the microorganisms that process a particular type of food.

Additionally, when we eat something contaminated, it is these microorganisms that detect the presence of pathogens. They inform the immune system to initiate a counter-attack (creation of antibodies, inflammation and attack on the pathogenic elements). Gut flora is also related to our state of mental health. There is direct communication between the gut and the brain via the central nervous system. Check out this link.

It is for these reasons that it is so important to have a healthy gut flora and microbiome. Moreover, the absence of these microscopic friends leaves us exposed to a myriad of conditions and risks to our health. Additionally, science has found that those people with the highest populations and diversity of microorganisms in their microbiome are the ones who enjoy the best health.

Let’s Be More Conscious

In order to safeguard our well-being, it is of utmost importance to be mindful of what we consume, drink, and apply to our bodies. Our microorganisms, the guardians of our health, deserve our care and protection. Above all, the most effective approach to achieving this is by steering clear of unnecessary risks, avoiding harmful substances, and when options are limited, finding ways to minimize potential hazards. Simple practices such as washing fruits and vegetables with a 10% vinegar or baking soda solution can eliminate up to 80% of pesticides they may carry. Additionally, opting for filtered water, fluoride-free toothpaste, and reducing the consumption of processed foods, as well as chemical-based personal care and cosmetic products. This can make a significant difference in safeguarding our tiny friends and overall health.

In this regard, fermented foods emerge as a powerful ally in restoring our gut flora. Notably, though we may not be able to fully recover the millions of microorganisms lost due to past unhealthy habits, reintroducing certain families of probiotics can substantially improve our gut health and contribute to various aspects of our well-being.

Fermentation, an ancient method of preserving food, dates back to as early as 1,600 BC when people used salt and consumed beverages like kombucha. Today, with access to advanced knowledge and scientifically-proven processes, we can effectively preserve food through natural fermentation without exposing ourselves to contamination risks.

Naturally fermented food

Table full of fermente food. 
Healing from within

Almost all foods can be fermented, however, this does not mean that they are all delicious. There are three main types of fermentation:

  • Lactic fermentation. Where lactobacillus strands are the stars transforming food, here we have Kefir, Sauerkraut, Kimchi and all kinds of cheese and lacto-fermented vegetables.
  • Acetic fermentation. Here, is the Acetobacter the one in charge of transforming ethyl alcohol into acetic acid. Here we have all kinds of vinegars and Kombuchas.
  • Alcoholic or ethyl fermentation. Where microorganisms transform carbohydrates into alcohol (ethanol). Thanks to this, we have wine, beer, cider and many more.

Other foods that are produced through fermentation, and you might not know about, are: Bread, sourdough bread, cheeses, sausages, yogurt, kefir (bird yogurt), soy sauce, sriracha, coffee, chocolate, miso, tofu, tempeh, and many more.

Obviously, alcoholic fermentation, even though it has given us beverages that we all enjoy and are not so harmful when consumed in moderation, is not the type of fermentation that will help us recover our intestinal flora.

Lactic and acetic fermentations are truly impressive when it comes to providing us with an abundant amount of probiotic microorganisms and highly beneficial organic acids for our intestinal health, which ultimately has a positive impact on our overall health.

Healing from within

Incorporating a diverse array of probiotic fermented foods into our daily diet can truly work wonders in restoring the essential populations of microorganisms that bring balance and well-being into our lives. From the delightful tang of Kefir to the fiery kick of kimchi, the traditional goodness of sauerkraut, and the refreshing sips of kombuchas, these fermented products become invaluable allies on our journey of inner healing. Their influence extends far beyond digestion, reaching every corner of our being, nurturing not just our intestines but also benefiting every organ and system within us. It’s a beautiful and virtuous circle that elevates our integral health.

I fondly recall the wise counsel of a dear friend, who always stressed the significance of nurturing our inner selves to experience vitality and fulfillment outwardly. Taking her advice to heart, I embarked on this path, and the results have been truly rewarding. Healing from within is a profound journey of self-discovery, where we learn to listen to and honor our bodies, showering them with the love and care they rightfully deserve.

As we embark on this exciting voyage towards improved health and well-being, let us not underestimate the transformative power of lactic and acetic fermentations. These incredible processes nourish us from within, leaving a positive impact on our lives. With gratitude and joy, let us wholeheartedly embrace probiotic fermented foods, knowing that we are shaping a brighter and healthier future for ourselves and our loved ones.

With great love and gratitude to all the sources of information and wisdom
that have allowed me to reach this knowledge and share this information!


Namaste image

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NOTE: When I wrote this article late on 2019, I still thought based on my readings and learning that the most important thing was to start with dietary changes to repopulate the intestinal flora, which in my particular case had been badly damaged by the excess of antibiotics I used as a teenager and then during my illnesses to eliminate Helicobacter Pylori. However I later learned that the first step is actually to heal the walls of the gut as in many cases of autoimmune diseases, the starting point is something known as leaky gut. Therefore I recommend you to read my post about how I healed my gut, I leave you here the link.

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