Every morning I take a few supplements. One of them is a good quality probiotic. My kids, including my 8-month-old son, take a probiotic, too. I give my two daughters their “soldiers,” and I mix a quarter teaspoon of a baby probiotic into my son’s bottle.

Probiotics provide your body with a healthy dose of good bacteria. The probiotics I buy have a combination of lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium. Together, they support the health of the small and large intestines. Regularity, improved digestion and, more importantly, increased overall health are a few reasons I think they’re an important addition for everyone to take.

Antibiotics, sugary foods, refined carbohydrates and alcohol all fan the flames of bad bacteria, causing overgrowth. If you’re not feeling well, there is a good chance that something is off balance with your gut. About 70% of our immune system resides in our digestive tract. The more we do to maintain a balance of our body’s ecosystem, the better off we’ll be – both physically and mentally.

One way to get more good bacteria into your body without having to take supplements is to make your own! Lacto fermenting foods, something that was much more common 100+ years ago, has taken a backseat to processed canned foods that have the ability to sit on store shelves for months on end. Creating your own canned foods, however, is much easier, and probably cost-effective than you realize. The only difference is you get the benefits of both a healthy dose of good bacteria as well as digestive enzymes.

I believe that lacto fermented foods are one of the best and healthiest things you can do for your body without a prescription!

If you’ve ever had kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha or yogurt, you’ve eaten fermented foods. To lacto ferment foods on your own, here is what you need:

  • Canning jars (I use basic Mason jars)
  • Your favorite vegetables
  • Salt
  • Water

The “lacto” part of lacto fermented refers to lactic acid. Lactic acid helps to stop the growth of bad bacteria, but also gives the end product its tangy, sometimes sour taste. In this anaerobic (without air) canned environment, beneficial bacteria flourish. At the same time, digestive enzymes become more available, helping to shuttle nutrients throughout the body.

When I made this batch of lacto fermented foods, I grabbed a few vegetables I had on hand, including:

  • Red cabbage
  • Green cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Red Onion
  • …I also added garlic for flavor

You can make good use of nearly any vegetable you have. Other vegetables that work well include:

  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Radishes
  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers (pickles!)

Get creative by adding your favorite fresh herbs, too!

Step 1: Sterilize your jars. You’ll want to get rid of any bad bacteria that may be harboring in the jars. To do this, just run the jars and lids through the dishwasher (no detergent), or place the jars into a stockpot filled with about 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Then carefully remove the jars. Stovetop steam cleaning is my preferred method. It saves time and energy.

Step 2: Mix about 4 tablespoons of salt into 4 cups of water. Salt helps to act as a preservative in the canning process.

Step 3: Set aside four leaves of cabbage, kale, romaine or any other leafy green you have available. Don’t chop them up. You’ll use these later!

Step 4: Chop of the vegetables you’d like to use. I’ve chopped my vegetables by hand and using a food processor.

Step 5: Add the vegetables to the jars, reserving about 1 inch of space to the top. Pack the vegetables down as tightly as possible. Packing the vegetables down helps to release more of the juice, increasing the availability of the enzymes.

Step 6: Pour the salt water into the jars until the water covers the vegetables.

Step 7: Using the leaves you set aside, place over the top of the vegetables creating a seal. If the leaves don’t stay under the water, don’t worry about it. You can discard them later.

Step 8: Place the jars on a shelf or counter that will remain room temperature. Allow the jars to sit at room temperature for 2 to 9 days. The longer they sit, the more tangy the flavor. Personally, I let mine sit for about a week.

Step 9: Open jars, remove leaf and throw away. Eat right away, or refrigerate and enjoy over the next couple weeks.

Nine steps might seem like a lot of work, but all-in-all, this whole process takes me about 45 minutes (include dish washing). It’s really very simple. Your belly will love this! I promise. 

Enjoy!

Need a little more help figuring out what’s right to eat for your body? The Belly Burn Plan has a nutrition plan, not a diet, that’s right for your body type! The book starts with a simple, short cleanse and moves into a combination fitness and meal plan. You can pick it up here.

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