All posts in June 2014

  • Be stronger with Probiotics (2/2).

    We all know how critical fermented foods are. If you don’t, go back to my last week blog post and you’ll see why immunity, digestion, weight loss are directly linked to the quality, diversity and numbers of good bacteria in your gut. Yes, good bacteria are your best friends!

    Now let’s look at how to easily include these wonders in your daily diet.

    Kefir contains even more probiotics (good bacteria) than normal yoghurt, which are able to colonise the gut for longer.

    Given that the French live longer and healthier lives than most other developed countries (not to mention the fact that there are only 35% of obese and overweight people in France vs. 65% in Australia), let’s look first at the traditional French diet. Surprise, surprise, it is one of the richest in probiotics: sourdough breads, fermented vegetables, red wine… you name it. However the main source is -real- dairy products in particular full cream yoghurt and ‘fromage blanc’, a very creamy yoghurt. Yoghurt is one of the richest natural sources of probiotics. 80% of the French have yoghurt very regularly: they eat around 25kg a year while the average Australian consumes 8kg only (more than 3 times less. Cheeses made from raw milk, cultured creme fraiche and butter help also a lot to optimise the daily probiotic intake of the French. There are also very popular traditional dishes rich in probiotics that the French love: ‘la choucroute’ (fermented cabbage served with pork meat) from the North-East of the country is one of the best examples. You won’t also find a gourmet table without its jar of ‘cornichons': delicious small pickled gherkins left to ferment through souring by lacto-fermentation  (with NO sugars or other nasties like in most gherkins available these days). A must-have to enjoy French charcuterie… Or simply for a quick super healthy snack with a piece of real cheese.

    However, don’t panic: if you don’t like French cuisine, there are many other options easily available here:

    – kombucha tea, which is also a fabulous liver cleanser and will help you lose your water weight. Ideal winter drink to sip throughout the day at work!

    – kefir, another type of fermented and cultured yoghurt, which contains even more good bacteria than normal yoghurt. These bacteria are even able to colonise the gut for longer. You can find kefir in all healthy food stores. Another option is to ask your Indian friends to get the best lassi (the Indian version of kefir)

    – miso: this might be the easiest way of having your daily dose of good bacteria. You already know that you can use this paste for soups like in Japan but you also can use it to season all your dishes (instead of using salt). You simply need to dilute one tablespoon of miso in hot water and to mix with your dressing or add while cooking. However don’t boil it as it would kill the bacteria. Always buy unpasteurised miso to be sure it contains live good bacteria. You will find the best organic unpasteurised miso in healthy food stores.

    – ‘Life in a Jar’ fermented vegetables made by ‘Green Jar Kitchen’ (#greenjarkitchen): pricy but delicious! A spoon before each meal every day and you’ll feel fabulous. You could also simply make your own fermented vegetables, it’s uber easy! Google it and you’ll find many workshops to learn how to make them! Or ask me the recipe…

    – One solution is to buy probiotics supplements. However don’t be fooled by these highly marketed products such as powders, tablets, capsules or even enriched regular foods. They are all super pricy and you are never sure what you get…

    Fermented vegetables: try and make your own. Super powerful probiotics!

    Finally, two very important things to make the most of fermented foods. First of all, given that probiotics tend to die quickly (except for some strains like in kefir), they work best when consumed daily (at every meal ideally). However if you are not used of having fermented foods in your diet, start slowly during the first 2 weeks. Secondly, don’t forget to have healthy fats such as olive oil and lots of soluble fiber rich foods also know as prebiotics. This is extremely important as they are critical to make probiotics florish to help balance your ecosystem, fasten your metabolism, promote weight loss and make you feel your very best. Prebiotics are found in legumes such as lentils, whole grains, berries, tomatoes and my favourite stars: the humble yet super foods garlic and onion. For the best prebiotic boost, try Jerusalem artichokes, normal artichokes, leeks and asparagus.

    Now your turn! Take action now: make sure to have your daily dose of good bacteria. Always choose organic, real and local when possible. And share your experience in the comments below!

    Bon appétit and talk to you next week!




  • Be stronger with Probiotics (1/2)

    Delicious pickled vegetables at one of the best restaurants in Surry Hills, Sydney: Nomad.


    “Perhaps this is why so many traditional societies valued fermented foods for their health promoting properties and insisted on giving them to the sick, the aged and nursing mothers”, says Sally Fallon, the founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, the US influential nutrition education organisation.

    All nutrition programs I design for my clients are built on my motto: Real Food + Pleasure = Health. ‘Real Food’ refers to what food is still supposed to be and was before the processed food era started a century ago. One of the most important real foods are fermented foods. Do you know that theywere central to traditional diets all over the world whether it was miso in Japan, pickled vegetables in Eastern Europe, lassi in India, fermented milk in Kenya or cheese and yoghurt in France?

    Our bacteria-phobic society made us forget that good bacteria are critical to our health. Fortunately recent research clearly shows that our health starts in our gut and fermented foods are finally back and strong on the nutrition map and most of gourmets, gourmands and foodies tables.

    There are about 6,000 strains of bacteria in a healthy gut; balance and diversity of these bacteria are required to maintain health. Our heavily pasteurised diet and modern lifestyle jeopardise our gut flora: sugar, alcohol, processed foods, medication, exposure to chemicals (from food, air, water, cosmetics) and stress dramatically reduce the number of good bacteria. It promotes inflammation, depletes our immune systems and leads to diseases, lack of energy and weight gain! This is mainly because the digestion is impacted when the gut flora is unbalanced and poor in good probiotics: you aren’t able to make the most of the food you eat, which consequently makes you fell less full and hungrier, increases insulin resistance directly making you fat.

    The gut flora of an overweight person (i.e. more than 65% of the Australian population!) will not only have less diversity than in a slim person’s flora but will also be more populated with bad bacteria, encouraging inflammation and weight gain: lack of balance and diversity in the gut flora leads to dysbiosis and triggers immune dysregulation, leading to inflammation. If instead the microbial composition is well balanced and diverse, you’ll have symbiosis in your gut, promoting immune regulation.

    How could you incorporate more fermented foods in your diet? We will look at several options next week. You will be surprised how easy it is and how powerful it will be on your health. In particular during the colder months.

    If you are already a probiotic fan, let us know and leave a comment below.

    Have a fantastic good-bacteria-friendly week!