Real Food – Getting What Your Body Needs

“What supplements/types of supplements do you recommend?” In the privacy of my own brain, I usually think to myself, “You wouldn’t need supplements if you ate well!” I do believe that the body and food were made for each other, meaning that ideal nutrition comes from good quality, whole foods. However, the reality is that many of us can benefit, at times, from taking specific supplements. I take a few myself, so I have to temper my idealistic enthusiasm.

supplements

So, what if you really want to get your nutrients from foods alone? With some intentional choices and a little work (don’t freak out – not that much!) I think it’s really possible for most of us. But, only with the help of some great super-foods. Lots of folks in the health world have lists of super-foods, which you’ve probably seen. I did a post about some of the ones I love in March. (Click here to see that post.)

Berries are on my list, and cultured berries are even better!

Berries are on my list, and cultured berries are even better!

One of the items on my list is fermented or cultured foods. There is another item I omitted, which was probably an oversight I’d like to remedy with this post. I forgot about sprouts! Why do I mention fermented foods and sprouts in the same breath? There’s a really good reason. It’s because you can take a wonderful, natural food, like a beet or a pumpkin seed or pepper, from your garden, do a few simple steps to alter it, and turn it into a much more nutritious food. There are numerous ways this can be accomplished. Sprouting and culturing both do this!

Eating lots of vegetables is very, very important, but even eating 9 cups a day (in addition to other foods) may not provide your body with all the nutrients it needs. (See this 17 minute video from Dr. Terry Wahls for why I say 9 cups.) Part of the reason for that is that we, as a society, employ all sorts of nutrient-depleting practices with regard to farming, food storage, processing, and preparation. Part of what you can do with fermenting and sprouting is to take back some of what we’re missing by facilitating the proliferation of nutrients in the foods that are widely available to us.

Fresh produce - at the center of pretty much any decent food plan

Fresh produce – at the center of pretty much any decent food plan

Sprouting has gotten a bit of a bad reputation in recent years. They can become contaminated with harmful bacteria. You need not fear the ones you grow yourself, as long as you take a few precautions. Rinse them at least once a day, and more if it’s warm weather. It helps to find a sort of cool spot for growing the sprouts, like the basement. Around 65 degrees (F.) is perfect, but you can still do it at 70 – 75 degrees if you are careful. Be sure to start with clean seeds, ones that are likely to be free of any mold or contaminants.

bean sprouts

I will not give you instructions for sprouting here because there are an abundance of videos for this purpose on YouTube. I love this one by Roger Wilde and a woman whose name I could not find. If you are from my neck of the woods, it’s nice watching this little 2 minute video just to hear their delightful accents. They will also illuminate some of the amazing benefits of sprouting.

Another thing I want to point out about sprouting is that this is a fine way to deal with anti-nutrients. What are those? They are substances found on the outer surface of grains, beans, nuts, and seeds that actually inhibit the absorption of nutrients. That is why many experts recommend soaking these foods before preparation. This is especially true if you have any digestive troubles. And, as sprouting increases nutrients, particularly B vitamins, just soaking these foods increases nutrient levels. But, who wants to eat soggy almonds? That problem is easily solved with a dehydrator.  For more on all this, click here for a lovely article from Food Matters.

As for fermenting (also known as “culturing”), you have in this process a beautiful way to multiply both nutrients and flavor, as well as generating life-enhancing beneficial bacteria. What more could you ask? Here’s a recipe I posted a while back; it’s great in winter, I think. And, since I still have a few beets sitting in my garden beds, I’m planning to take advantage of this very recipe in the next few days.

Cranberry Citrus Ferment - this recipe is a fall favorite in my house. I'll post the recipe soon!

Cranberry Citrus Ferment – this recipe is a fall favorite in my house. I’ll post the recipe soon!

Bottom line: the very best nutrition comes from real, whole foods, but we need to go above and beyond to really take in all we need from our foods these days. Sprouting and fermenting can help us get there!

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