We are fortunate to have neighbors who share our interest in promoting healthy foods as part of a healthy lifestyle. Haley from Happy Leaf Kombucha shares her knowledge of how fermented foods can add a great benefit to our heath. Never tried kombucha? Check out the Happy Leaf tap room next time you are in the neighborhood!
Happy Leaf Kombucha
Fermented foods are foods that have gone through the process of lactofermentation. This is a food preservation technique that adds probiotic goodness to raw foods. It breaks down components in the food, making them more easily digestible and creates beneficial enzymes and b vitamins as well as various probiotic strains.
Kombucha is a lightly fermented tea, rich in probiotics and b vitamins. Ours begins with a green and black tea and organic sugar, and a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). This floating colony then eats the sugar and turns the sugars to probiotics. The end result after the open air fermentation is kombucha! The majority of sugar is processed out during the ferment, leaving only 0-2g on average per glass. Kombucha is a wonderful alternative to alcohol and sodas alike, as it has a fizzy, sparkling quality but also an interesting fermented flavor. We flavor ours with organic cold pressed juices and infuse herbs, there are endless flavor combination possibilities!
Fermented foods and kombucha seem like the latest fad to some people, but the truth is, fermentation is an old tradition practiced all over the world and has been preserving foods and keeping people healthy and balanced for centuries, it’s only just now sparked an interest in our modern society. The process and tradition of fermenting and eating live foods has sharply declined in recent years, in which we drink pasteurized milk instead of raw milk, and quick vinegar pickles and krauts instead of aged and fermented alternatives.
Fermenting food and drink is a means of preservation, as well as introducing probiotics, vitamins and enzymes to the body to aide in overall health. Fermented foods are super easy to make at home, and cost a fraction of what they cost in stores!
~Haley Burkhall, Taproom Manager
It may seem early to start thinking about allergy season, since spring time weather is likely more than a month away. However, in Chinese Medicine, we like to promote prevention and thinking ahead as a way to mitigate the struggle that comes with trees, grass and flowers blooming. Below are some tips to help you plan and prepare for spring and hopefully avoid the sneezing, itchy eyes and headaches that are so common for some of us with seasonal allergies.
Traditional Chinese Medicine: This may go without saying, but acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas are a great way to boost the immune system to fight seasonal allergies. These methods are particularly helpful when you begin about 6 weeks prior to the start of spring weather.
Nettle Tea: Nettle tea (urtica dioica) has been used for hundreds of years to strengthen the immune system. Modern science has found that nettles are particularly high in vitamins and minerals such as quercetin and vitamins C and Bs, that help our immune system manage histamine responses to allergens (i.e. itchiness, runny nose etc). Drinking 1-2 cups of nettle tea at the first sign of allergies can help keep them at bay. If symptoms have already begun and are in full swing, nettle tea may help but will be less effective. Tea bags can be found at any local health food store.
Quercetin: This is a flavanoid, full of antioxidents and found in many fruits and vegetables and has been found to help reduce the response the immune system has to allergens. This results in less production of histamines and therefore, runny nose, itchy eyes, etc. It also has been found to protect the mucous membranes, especially in the sinuses, preventing them from becoming inflamed. A mid level dose of quercetin is about 200 mg but always check with your health provider to find a dose that is good for you.
Local Honey and Bee Pollen: If you are fortunate enough to be able to find local honey (raw, unfiltered) or bee pollen, you can highly benefit from taking these once a day to hold off allergy symptoms. The honey and bee pollen hold small amounts of the local pollen from trees and flowers. These small amounts can be used to train your immune system to learn that these pollens are not harmful so that when the trees and flowers do bloom, your immune system is less likely to react (the concept is similar to our modern day vaccines). This is also good to start ~ 6 weeks prior to allergy season. 1 Tablespoon of honey or 1/4 teaspoon of bee pollen once a day is a good dose to start with.
Sinus Rinse: Netti pots and other types of sinus rinses can help keep inflamed nasal passages and sinuses hydrated and less irritated. These can be used before and during allergy season to manage symptoms.
Even though it is the shortest month of the year, many of us have a hard time around now. Cold, dark days have been with us for months, the excitement of holidays has passed and there are still several weeks until spring comes to save us from the winter doldrums.
On a lighter note, February is associated with Valentine’s Day and showing those around us how much we love them. In addition, the American Heart Association recognizes February as Heart Health month and promotes heart healthy lifestyle choices to the public.
In bringing all of these connections together, lets use this month to show OURSELVES love, as much as we show others we love them. This focus can sometimes help lift our spirits through the darker days of winter.
Some suggestions about how to show yourself love and gratitude:
- Create a list of accomplishments and review it often. Often when we have the winter blues, it is easy to get focused on what we haven’t accomplished or where we feel weak. Now is a great time to remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments
- Learn something new. Try learning a new language, sport or dance. Learning is a great way to get our brain out of the winter motivation slump.
- Get some exercise. Indoor or outdoor, this can help you appreciate your body and get those exercise endorphins flowing. Grab a friend and get two for the price of one! (See number 4)
- Spend time with supportive, uplifting people. Surround yourself with people and places that have positive effects on you. Positive friends and co-workers can support each other through the winter blahs.
- Spend some time just being. Winter is a time for reflection and recovery. Remember to take social, technology and screen breaks to give yourself a break from the hectic schedules we all live.
- Do something nice for yourself. Take a bath, make yourself a wholesome, healthy lunch to take to work (see number 8) or spend your break time reading your favorite book.
- Get out in nature. Being in nature is good for our heart and our soul. Even the American Heart Association recognizes that exercise outdoors is great for heart health.
- Make yourself your favorite healthy meal. Wholesome, home cooked food can boost your mood and support the health of your entire body. Check out some great healthy winter recipes here.
- Help someone else. Volunteer work and acts of kindness and compassion help us get out of our own thoughts and are known to change our brains in healthy ways!
- Hug somebody. After all, its the month of love and hugging is a great way to show you care. Plus, it can have positive health benefits for both people, including a stronger immune system.
Taking time to appreciate yourself will allow the winter blahs to pass easier and when spring comes, you will be ready to shine!