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Understanding How Bacteria Work In The Body

We know that more than half of all women will experience the burning urgency of a urinary tract infection in their lifetime. Although men also suffer from these infections, the occurrence is much less frequent due to anatomical differences. If you experience discomfort when you urinate, you may have an infection. There are two types of infections that commonly affect these areas - urinary tract infections (UTIs) which are also called bladder infections and yeast infections. While these are different conditions, some of their symptoms, causes, and prevention methods are similar.

Bladder infections often cause a frequent urge to urinate, a burning sensation during urination, and bloody, cloudy, or pungent-smelling urine. While a yeast infection may include pain when urinating, you’ll also experience pain and itchiness in the affected area. Vaginal yeast infections also typically cause a thick, milky discharge. UTIs are normally treated with antibiotics; but what you really need to know is that if you do have to take an antibiotic, you need to replace the good bacteria that is wiped out by the antibiotics.

Dr. Ann Stapleton, Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington, stated, "When a UTI occurs, gut bacteria like E. coli take up residence in the vagina and displace good bacteria that normally live there. UTIs cause pain during urination, and can even lead to back pain, fever. and bladder and kidney infections. Women take antimicrobial medications to combat these infections and the medications wipe out all bacteria, both good and bad. But for some women, the bad bacteria grow back to cause a recurrent UTI. Probiotics help to restore the natural bacterial environment to make it hard for the bad bacteria to cause another infection."

I have seen this in myself and in so many people. If they take the antibiotics to rid themselves of the bladder infection but don't replenish the good bacteria that the antibiotics wiped out, consequently they have a big battle with recurring infections even though they take multiple antibiotics. If you do find yourself in this situation, consuming probiotic foods will help keep out pathogens, parasites, bacteria, and viruses, especially Gardnerella, Proteus, Chlamydia, Campylobacter, Neisseria, Treponema, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli (E. coli). 1 These are the urinary tract bacteria that can cause yeast infections and bladder infections.

Berries And Bacteria For UTIs

Adding to your diet lots of blueberries, cranberries, blueberries, and lingonberries–a European derivative of cranberries–provides compounds called tannins. Tannins may prevent strains of bacteria from attaching to urinary tract cells and may aid in reducing infection. Eating and drinking these berries at the onset of a UTI may help decrease the number of symptoms a person experiences and lessen the frequency of infections in women with recurrent UTIs. Most juices contain huge amounts of sugar, so it is best to stick with the berries.

Cranberries have proanthocyanidins (PACs) which are very powerful antioxidants that remove harmful free radicals from cells. They have shown that the antioxidant power of PACs is 20 times higher than that of vitamin C and 50 times higher than vitamin E. That gives this berry superpowers! The PACs in cranberries have a special structure called A-type linkages.3 The special structure of PACs in cranberries acts as a barrier to harmful bacteria that might latch on to the urinary tract lining. 

WebMD reports that if you drink unsweetened cranberry juice, within eight hours the levels of bad bacteria in the urinary tract decrease. Thus, cranberry juice could prevent an infection. Raw blueberries and blueberry juice are rich sources of vitamin C and proanthocyanidins. These compounds can help flush bacteria from the urinary tract.

In a new study in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, scientists found that when we eat certain foods (such as cranberries and blueberries), our bodies break them down into small molecules during the process of digestion. This can influence how well E. coli (the most common cause of UTIs) can or cannot grow in our urinary tracts. "We didn't set out to link diet to urinary tract infections at all," said study's author Jeffrey Henderson, MD, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology at the Washington University School of Medicine. "We were looking at immune response—how the body naturally fights infections.” Their finding was a surprise. "Your body makes a protein called siderocalin that is known to control bacterial growth, and it shows up in the urine of people with UTIs, like the body's first responders," Henderson explains. They found large differences in people's ability to fight infections. Some exhibited greater bacteria-fighting power. Certain foods that they were eating helped siderocalin do its job, which is to deprive bacteria of iron, a mineral it needs to grow. "Siderocalin uses these dietary compounds as molecular grips to bind to iron and keep it away from the bacteria," Henderson says. "If you can keep iron away from the bacteria, you prevent it from growing." Blueberries, cranberries, and tea, along with fermented milk products topped the list of foods that can help process the foods you eat into more of those bacteria-busting compounds.

Women and Yeast Infections

Yeast infections occur when too much of the fungus known as Candida builds up and gets out of control. In women, bacteria normally colonize the vagina and keep Candida and yeast infections under control. There are five known vaginal bacteria, and many of them (such as Lactobacillus) produce lactic acid, which lowers the pH, creating a hostile environment for pathogens. When these bacteria are killed by things such as antibiotics, there becomes a big void of empty space. Candida suddenly has room to spread out and grow. An overgrowth of yeast may result, leading to a yeast infection.

Looking for balance, not complete extinction

Candida is something that everyone is talking about and seems to be afraid of. This same thing happened many years ago with bacteria when everybody and their brother came out with antibacterial soaps and disinfectants. It was the new buzz and this caused so many problems. I believe this was the wrong approach to keeping pathogens at bay. Most thought if we could just stamp out the bad bacteria (and now Candida) all our problems would go away, but this is not the case. If we will build up the good yeasts and bacteria, they will solve the problem for us and also create a balance that otherwise wouldn’t exist within our bodies. Killing bacteria kills both the good and the bad, and the same with Candida – you want a small amount to remain but you really are looking for balance, not complete extinction. It’s the same story, again and again, good versus evil. If you focus on the good instead of only destroying the bad, the good will be in control, will dominate, and will bring things into balance. The struggle will cease.

Studies have shown that when you add probiotics from the Lactobacillus family you downregulate Candida, stopping yeast infections and keeping them from recurring.2 I can think of no better way to do this than through cultured foods, which are loaded with many probiotics, especially those from the Lactobacillus family.

Eating Cultured Probiotic Foods Makes It Hard For Pathogens To Survive

It comes as no surprise to me that bacteria organize communities of bacterial responses to help us fight pathogens. This does depend on what you eat, and especially the strength of your microflora. Kefir has more good bacteria than any other cultured food and is a powerful ally in preventing and combatting UTIs and yeast infections. Making a kefir smoothie with cranberries or blueberries can flood your body with all the components it needs to help stop UTIs and yeast infections.

One study found that milk Kefir, with its 50+ probiotics was impressive at inhibiting Candida albicans and harmful bacteria. This interesting study added kefir to a sugar broth (molasses, demerara sugar, and brown sugar) and it still inhibited bad bacterial growth as well as Candida albicans. Several strains of bad bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli were added, and the kefir inhibited all of them! 4

A lot of people avoid cultured foods - especially kombucha - when they have an overgrowth of Candida, believing that these foods actually make the condition worse. Saccharomyces boulardii, a probiotic yeast, is abundant in kombucha. S. boulardii is able to effectively compete with and displace harmful yeast strains such as Candida.5 S. boulardii is absent from the natural gut since it is a transient yeast that passes through the intestines after ingestion. If taken every day, it achieves a steady stream in the colon within 3 days and is cleared from the stools 2 - 5 days later.6  It does not attach to the mucosal cell lining, but works its magic on you as it moves through the gastrointestinal tract. When S. boulardii is present, it inhibits toxins from binding to intestinal receptors and steals the metabolites it needs to survive. Thus many pathogens pass out of the body unable to survive in the presence of this powerful probiotic. They even found that other pathogen strains like E. coli, Salmonella typhimurium, and S. typhi adhere to the surface of S. boulardii, thus preventing them from attaching to the mucosal lining and passing through the body rendering them harmless. S. boulardii also produces anti-fungal substances such as capric, caprylic, and caproic acids. In the case of kombucha, it is important to drink the first-fermented kombucha and not the second-fermented ones with fruit juice to ensure that all the sugars are gone and it is properly fermented. Cultured foods can aid in the treatment of Candida overgrowth as long as they are made properly in order to remove the sugars and allow the probiotics to grow and become strong.

Fermented Veggies
Sauerkraut is another fermented food that research has found to inhibit Candida albicans and it also has antibacterial activity. Fermented kraut juice was observed against Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella enterica, Staphylococcus, and Bacilllus amyloliquifaciens. It was shown to have antibiotic and antifungal activity against a wide range of bacteria and fungi. It was concluded that the antifungal activity of sauerkraut juice is comparatively better than commercial antibiotics. Further research is being done to find treatments for a variety of pathogens.

Healing Crisis

Often when you first start consuming cultured foods you can feel like you're getting a yeast infection. This may be a healing crisis as the body is flooded with good bacteria and the pathogens start to die. The medical term for a healing crisis is the “Herxheimer Reaction.”  The cells release toxins into circulation and the body is not able to eliminate them quickly enough. Candida alone can give off 80 different toxins when it starts to leave the body and it can even mimic a yeast infection making you think you're getting worse and not better. You can read more about this in this article - Healing Crisis and Cultured Foods.

Dr. Deborah MD has a good protocol that includes lots of cultured foods and extra tips. You might want to check out her article for more help: Solutions for Urinary Tract Infections.

Here are some more articles to help you if you're battling Candida or a yeast infection:

Candida and Cultured Foods

The Probiotic That Inhibits Candida and Toxins

I just thought I would share what has worked so effectively for me. Makes sense to me – flood the body with good bacteria and it will counteract the toxic bacteria and fungi that can wreak such havoc on your life. I can help you make these foods a part of your life. I'm really good at it, and I've been doing this for almost two decades.

It is my belief that one of the most powerful medicines on the planet is what you eat!

How to Make Milk Kefir

How to Make Kombucha

How to Make Veggies

Stress is an alarm clock. It’s your body trying to communicate with you, sending you alert notices; but so few of us listen and I am no different from you. This is a very personal subject for me. Stress made its presence known to me in 2016, but I didn’t listen. I just ignored the signs. I was working like crazy for years and adding more and more pressure to myself. So many things were going on in my life, and I thought that as long as I had my cultured foods I could just keep adding more and more things to my life and I’d be fine.

Well, that was not happening, I had panic attacks and couldn’t control them. It scared me so badly that I followed my husband around like a puppy dog scared to be alone and afraid. It was my chiropractor who told me I had been working too much and my body was showing all the signs. I sat in his office and cried and cried. He told me he had been through the same thing and felt just like me. Here he was trying to help people get well and he couldn’t even help himself. He told me my mind was looking everywhere to find a disease or ailment that was causing all of this, but I needed to surrender to it and learn from it. I just cried harder and said, "It couldn’t just be stress, could it? How could this be?" And then finally after weeks of searching, I surrendered. I prayed, "Please teach me what I need to know, I'm ready." And then the dreams started. Every night I had dreams about people who had struggled with anxiety - friends, family, and even my dog who was traumatized when our other dog died and he didn’t want to be alone. Every night another person who had struggled, sometimes from twenty years ago, started showing up in my dreams. My heart filled with compassion and a desire to help those who were hurting. I didn’t understand what a panic attack was or a breakdown because I'd never experienced anything like this. Then everything switched inside of me.

I started doing different things and found things that helped me so much, and I thought I would share them with you. When we're desperate, sometimes we need tools to help ourselves, methods that are the bridge, and this is what I found worked so effectively for me. I couldn't just eat perfectly and expect everything to be all right and then run myself into the ground. Eventually, it all catches up with you. Lack of sleep, stress, and physical exhaustion will shut you down but will wind up teaching you so much if you let it.

10 Ways I found to Reduce Stress

cultured veggies kombucha

Surrender and Listen:

First of all, you have to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. It's trying to get your attention and no matter how scary this is, you need to surrender and listen, because your body is going to win and shut you down if you don’t so you must pay attention. Surrender and ask for what it is trying to teach you, and then listen and find clues. Symptoms are only the warning sign and not the enemy. Make peace with whatever is happening and ask it to teach you what it needs to. This is one of the fastest ways to find the answers that are seeking you. I used to walk around telling myself the answers would come to me, and I was not meant to live this way. The answers did come and changed my entire life. I tuned myself to wellness and then hung on with as much faith as I could muster. I practiced faith with every thought and turned my mind away from sickness and disease, and then a tipping point came and the answers flowed in like a river. I still practice this to this day. Your mind is a powerful tool in your wellness and faith is ever present. You just have to reach for it and hang on for dear life, even if you're afraid. Fire cannot kill a dragon.



Meditating was the only way I found to calm my mind which is like a runaway train when I'm under stress. It took me a while because I couldn’t calm my mind down, so I only did five minutes a day and it was enough. Later on I did more; but in the beginning, this was all I could muster and then I did more. I'd find some calming music to listen to that lasted five to seven minutes or I'd use an app called Calm. It had ocean waves and other soothing sounds. Sometimes I needed a guided meditation to give my mind something to focus on. I tried a lot of different meditations and still do, sometimes I just focus on my breath; but whatever I do, I'm quieting my mind and stopping the chatter. Even five minutes was enough to stop my mind from going to the dark side that was telling me something was terribly wrong with me.

There are many different kinds of meditations out there and I encourage you to find what works for you. I had to start with something little because everything overwhelmed me and this was perfect for me. Fast forward many years later and meditation has changed my life and body in so many ways. I don't go a day without it and the effects are cumulative. Meditating has been found to calm the central nervous system and lower blood pressure1 . Something I have noticed is that every successful person I meet has a meditation practice. If I've learned anything from all of this, I realized I can't control all the moving pieces in the outside world, but I can control my response to them through meditation. I'm the happiest and calmest I have ever been in my life and I credit so much of this to training my mind to calm down at will. It's a skill just like learning a new task and you need to practice it. It can give you a tool to use when life around you seems crazy. Took me a good year to really get good at it, but I didn't give up and kept going and it has made all the difference. I love meditation like I do my cultures. It was part of the mind-body connection that I needed to complete my life.

lemon curd kefir2

Kefir contains the most probiotics of any cultured food. With 50+ good bacteria and yeasts (we need good yeasts, too) it is one powerhouse food and the one I get the most emails about.  Sometimes it's hard for me to talk about kefir without getting emotional because it has helped me over and over again throughout the last seventeen years. When I was struggling, I drank 2 ½ to 3 cups of kefir a day. I normally only drink about a cup, but I needed the huge amounts of B12 in kefir. One cup has half the B12 you need in a day. This is so, so calming to the central nervous system so I drank three cups at least. A good friend of mine actually told me about how much this helps calm her down when she is stressed out. She drinks two to three cups and it makes a huge difference for her. I hear this over and over again. I even saw a post on one of my Youtube comments today that expressed how it keeps her anxiety at bay. If you come to one of my classes you will hear the stories of wellness from the people in the classes. I used to walk around my house holding my jar of kefir close to my heart knowing that it is always there for me when I need it. You'll never understand it till you experience it yourself, and I believe you wouldn't be here reading this if you didn't need it. Guidance and help for problems usually come in whispers and nudges. No worries, if you're on the fence it will keep showing up until you decide to try it.

For me, there were days that all I drank was kefir because I couldn’t handle anything else. The results were a deeper sleep and my body would calm down. I often had a hard time sleeping since cortisol seemed to be running rampant. On many occasions, I got up in the middle of the night and drank a half cup of kefir and within a few minutes, I was back to sleep. My husband does this too when he has trouble sleeping. Kefir is the best for relaxing the body. The calcium found in kefir will help the brain use the tryptophan to make sleep-inducing melatonin. 2

How to Make kefir

Kombucha ginger

Have Probiotic Drinks For extra Help

Another wonderful thing that helped me was coconut water kefir. It has tons of electrolytes and a lot of potassium. Coconut water may contain more than 600 mg of potassium per serving - an amount higher than one serving of just about any other food or beverage. They even found it lowers blood pressure3 and can help with elevated stress markers. I loved the taste in the morning with a slice of fresh lime. I have a bunch of recipes for this on my blog: Love Affair With Water Kefir.

Kombucha is another drink that can greatly help you. Those stress hormones that are flooding your body can really mess up your digestive and immune systems. Kombucha will assist the body in removing those extra hormones and also strengthens the immune system to keep you strong. Kombucha is full of glucuronic acid which plays a part in one of the body’s most important detoxification processes: glucuronidation, a process in which glucuronic acid binds to toxins and transforms them so they can be easily eliminated by the kidneys. The liver produces this substance naturally, but sometimes the body can’t keep up with the number of pollutants and hormones that it comes into contact with. The extra glucuronic acid in kombucha  helps make up the difference. 4,5

How to Make Kombucha


Herb Passionflower Vine:

Passionflower vine tincture was another thing I found that helped me so much. I took the liquid drops and I put them in a glass of water. It stopped that crazy circular thinking in my head and helped me relax. Indigenous Americans are the first people known in history to have found a use for passion flower. It's great for anxiety and contains many flavonoids. The flavonoids “chrysin” and “benzoflavone” may be the primary flavonoids in passion flower that are responsible for decreasing anxiety.
Chrysin and benzoflavone are believed to have the effect of increasing the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (often abbreviated as GABA) in the brain, in much the same way that standard anti-anxiety medications are known to do. It really helps me and is a wonderful way to help myself calm down. I checked with my health care provider before taking the herbs and supplements, and I suggest you do the same. You can get Passionflower vine tincture at most health food stores or click on the words above to take you to an online source.


Herbs Catnip:

Catnip capsules (3 capsules) or a cup of catnip tea is a fantastic way to reduce anxiety and stress. I just couldn’t believe how effective this was for me and it also has many applications besides just anxiety. This herb has natural relaxing and soothing properties. A cup of this mild tea made with catnip herb is said to help improve digestion, ease morning sickness, calm nerves, lower blood pressure, and help with fevers. Its relaxing properties also make it beneficial to those who suffer from insomnia.

You can get catnip in tea or capsule form and most health food stores carry it - or click on the words above to take you to an online source. I'm very thankful I found this wonderful herb. I checked with my health care provider before taking the herbs and supplements and I suggest you do the same.

cultured veggies

Cultured Vegetables.

Another key vitamin for stress, abundant in cultured foods, is vitamin C. It is also key in helping support your adrenal glands and myriad other processes in the body as well. Vitamin C is absolutely essential for adrenal function. Vitamin C will allow you to respond properly to life’s stressors and recover more quickly from them. Cultured veggies not only supply you with a ton of vitamin C (one cup contains 700 milligrams of vitamin C) but they also allow you to better absorb it throughout the body. Good microbes heal the gut and allow better absorption and digestion from all your foods. Cultured vegetables and kefir are abundant in vitamins C and B. Vitamin C has many, many functions in the body; and since it is water-soluble, not stored by the body, and is eliminated in urine, we require a continuous, daily supply in our diet. I love drinking the juice from cultured veggies. It a fast way to get that much-needed vitamin C into the bloodstream quickly.

Social anxiety: A study, published in Psychiatry Research, included 710 students taking introductory psychology courses at the College of William and Mary. 6They were given a questionnaire about how many fermented foods they ate on a regular basis and how much anxiety and social awkwardness they felt. In students with high degrees of anxiety, eating more fermented food was linked to fewer symptoms of stress and anxiety. Probiotics help to reduce inflammation throughout the body, and reducing inflammation in the gut is crucial to emotional wellbeing.

How To Make Cultured Veggies



My chiropractor really, really encouraged me to do yoga. He told me that tons of yoga studies have been done.  These studies have shown that yoga twice a day for fifteen minutes, done for a month, works as well as anti-anxiety drugs and you know what? I did it for fifteen minutes once a day and it made a believer out of me. It's like getting your mind-body connection going in some kind of wonderful way and even just doing a little bit makes a huge difference.

Sudha Prathikanti, M.D., an integrative psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, did several studies on the effectiveness of yoga on those patients who had mild to major depression. Earlier in her career, Dr. Prathikanti had run into some limitations when using conventional psychiatric techniques alone. “Whether I was using psychotherapy, medications, or behavioral interventions, there seemed to be little scope for addressing the spiritual dimension of my patients’ lives,” she says. “I also noticed an over-reliance on clinical experts to achieve and maintain health.” She believes that an integrative approach to emotional wellness helps overcome these limitations.7,8 Try it and see. I’ve always been into strength training and cardio and boy, did I need yoga. I could feel myself calm down.[

mirror work

Loving Yourself or Mirror work.

You just gotta do it - stand in front of a mirror and love yourself. Louise Hay, the late founder of my publishing company, Hay House, built a whole company on these principles because they work. They helped her overcome cancer and then using her own life as an example, she went on to help thousands of others. Looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you love yourself and that all the problems you're facing are going to turn around is huge in self-recovery. I believe the cells of your body listen to everything you say. We have beliefs and habits and our body and mind are running a program each and every day. What you think about and how and where you put your focus governs just about everything you do. Most of it is subconscious. For instance, you never really think about putting your foot on the gas when you're driving. Your mind has neurons in place that you taught to do this automatically. We have thousands of things we do every day that are simply programs in our neuro-network that help us get about our day. But what happens when things aren't going so well? You want to program your mind to look for wellness. You want to love yourself into health and encourage yourself every chance you get. I read a book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It, by Kamal Ravikant that had a big impact on me when I was going through this. It might be a good read for you. It was a blessing to me.

Donna at Lavender Class

Finding Mentors:

Listening to those who have been there can inspire you. We need mentors. We need those who have walked through the flames and blazed a trail for us. Maybe I went through all of this so I could find the answers and hopefully help you, too. I’m so thankful my doctor had been through this. He told me to surrender, do meditation, yoga, and gave me some helpful supplements. Then he told me I needed to slow down and gave me some things to watch and read. I needed his wisdom. He had been through it and I am so thankful for his life that stood as an example to me. You will find your way and as you look towards wellness, those people who can help and inspire you will show up in books, podcasts, videos, and friends and family too. Seek it out and it will find you. And remember my friends, as the great poet Rumi says, "What you seek is seeking you." The pain will turn to wisdom and one day you'll be so thankful for the pain that made you change. I know I am! I have more compassion for others, I meditate and do yoga, and I have a peacefulness I had never known. I put systems into place that allowed me to work smarter and take more time for myself and spend more time in nature.

I believe that you're loved and watched over even when you can't feel it. What a journey this life is! The pain has made me grow in ways I otherwise wouldn't have. I wouldn't be here writing to you had I not struggled and found my way. Sometimes when you're running low on faith and you're scared, you just need a little grace; so I write this blog to hopefully send you a little hope and lots of love. It'll be okay — just you wait and see.

Listen To My Podcast

All of us find ourselves in situations where we’re under tremendous stress which can cause anxiety. Here are the ten things that have helped me calm my mind and body in miraculous ways. It may not be what you think!

Everybody I know leads busy lives, but did you know there is always help for you? My family had a lot of big changes in 2017, but a constant through it all was the way each member of my family used and ate cultured foods. Maybe this could be the answer for you, too. But first, the journey . . . it was  March 18, 2017, and I was sitting in a truck with a convoy behind us with all our worldly goods, driving across the country to a new destiny. Both of our older kids had moved to southern California and wanted us to join them. Since we have our own businesses, we can live anywhere; and with one 16-year old kid still at home missing her two older siblings, we made the big decision to move. Not knowing all this would entail, we sold our home, packed up our stuff, and headed towards our new home hoping to be a family again. My side of the family all lives on the east coast and my husband’s family is in Colorado and Nebraska. We were in Kansas City and had nothing holding us there anymore with our kids gone. We left on my birthday and the stress of moving got to me.

I have lived far away from my family since the age of 18. I moved away to college and never came back except to visit. My mom and dad lived on the east coast and my sisters did, too, and it was hard for my family to visit since we all lived so far from each other. Ron’s mom had died many years ago and his dad didn’t really communicate with us but maybe once a year with a phone call. Watching my kids grow up without a lot of extended family was different from everybody else I knew, but I was determined to make my family something that would sustain us all. It would be something special and something we could build a strong foundation upon. Ron and I are a strong team. With over 35 years of marriage, both of us having our own business and not having a lot of outside support, these pressures and struggles have made us really strong and I'm so thankful for that!  We had to depend on each other, so Ron and I our three kids did everything together. When people talked about us they always talked about us as a unit. We were mostly alone, far from extended family, but we had each other and it was enough. Until our oldest daughter and husband moved to California. Then my son went to visit and was offered a job, and my son said he would only go if we would eventually come too. We sure did miss our kids and felt bad for our youngest who was missing her brother and sister. So we made the decision to sell our house and move closer to them.  As we got our house ready to put on the market we renovated the kitchen, painted, and redid all the rooms. And it was something else - all the while writing my book Cultured Food in a Jar. At this busy time, I was living out of jars with cultured foods in them as our kitchen was torn apart and in disarray. I never realized how much I would need my own recipes to sustain me and get me through this challenging time. I can remember sitting on the kitchen floor on a towel amidst the wreck in my kitchen eating miso soup out of a jar, drinking raspberry kombucha punch, and being so thankful that I had something easy to eat. My own foods from my book saved me again and again. We all reach for easy foods when we're busy and I created ones that not only nourished me but kept me calm too. Cultured foods do this with their powerful combo of microbes that work with me from the inside out.

Fast forward many months later . . . we sold our home and had all our trucks and trailers packed, ready to move and a tornado hit right down the road from us. And I heard my husband say, “If that tornado picks up my trailers and puts them in the neighbor's yard after I  spent all this time packing them I’m not going to be happy!" I closed my eyes and prayed and although the tornado did hit not too far from our home, we were left untouched and left the following morning on our journey which just happened to be my 57th birthday. I was sitting in the back of the truck because I felt horrible and was trying to sleep and discovered after missing several nights of sleep I had gotten a cold. This was my first cold in years and I felt like I was going to die. The body can only take so much stress and lack of sleep before it shuts down. I'm not used to being sick and I forgot how horrible this can be. I knew my body was reacting to all the stress I was feeling and it was trying to get my attention.  On that day, nobody remembered my birthday which at this point I didn’t care about anymore, but I was running a fever and couldn’t breathe out of my nose and thought I made a terrible mistake moving across the country. Tornados and sickness . . . well, it felt like all the forces were converging to stop me and that’s when I saw the cooler sitting next to me. I grabbed the new spicy kimchi jar out of the cooler. It was a recipe I had made from my book and then I grabbed a q tip from my makeup bag. I ate some of the kimchi and then dipped the q-tip in the kimchi and swapped the inside of my nose. I had a  reader tell me this got rid of a six-month sinus infection she had. A lot of sinus problems are yeast related so adding probiotics to your diet, and in this case up my nose, made my sinus clear and I was able to breathe, finally.

Three days later we arrived, and I saw my kids for the first time in almost a year and I couldn’t stop the tears. I couldn’t believe I had made it there, thousands of miles, to be a family again. Halfway there I thought I had made a terrible mistake but drinking three jars of kefir, gallons of kombucha, and kimchi got me there in one piece. My own recipes have sustained me through some of the hardest times of this last year and helped me back to my family. The Schwenks are a strong unit and if you come to my classes you will see everybody there helping and working as a team. We love each other and we also love helping you, too. I feel truly blessed, to live my life with my family by my side. FYI, moving to California allowed me to go to Disneyland (see picture above) for the very first time in my life. What a day that was and my kids have dubbed me "Disney Donna" but then that's another story for another time!

Foods as Medicine

Why We Each Need Cultured Foods

So much has happened since that day. My daughter Maci and her husband, Jeff, bought and moved into their first home. Maci consumed every cultured food known to mankind as she was so stressed out from buying a home and jumping through all the hoops they make you jump through. She found that upping the amount of kefir she drinks is one of the most helpful things. Cultured foods can help you so much through difficult times. Our bodies need nourishment but especially when we're under stress; and kefir, kombucha, and cultured veggies are all nutrient dense and predigested so eating them not only nourishes the body but helps all those stress hormones from getting the upper hand. Water kefir is another drink Maci makes a lot, and if you go to my classes you'll get to sample her many creations!

My younger daughter, Holli, is soaring to new heights. I was most worried about her when we moved. Being 16 years old and leaving your friends is not an easy thing to do. But Holli wanted to come and loves theatre and found several wonderful theatre groups, did tons of musicals, and was Awarded Best Over-All Performer of the Year at Star Repertory Theatre - one of the most highly awarded theatre groups in San Diego. She also has lots of new sweet friends, but never in my wildest dreams did I think she'd be doing the things she does now. Holli is a strong advocate for kefir, kombucha, and veggie juice too. I've watched her drink this every day to keep her acne under control. She swears that it's the only thing that has worked for her and I myself was shocked that even though it took a month of having this every day, the results speak for themselves.

My husband, Ron, was retiring but that didn't work out so well for him. He's not someone to sit around, and he casually mentioned to an acquaintance that he used to have a roofing business in Kansas City. One thing led to another and now he's working for a large San Diego roofing and solar company. He told them he just wanted to work a few days a week and now I never see him!! One thing I love about Ron is how he rises to the top in everything he does. He has a lot of integrity and so much wisdom that everyone takes notice and you can't be around him very long before he commands your respect. My husband loves cultured veggie dip and cultured veggies help him stay regular along with kefir which he swears helps him sleep like a baby and keeps acid reflux at bay. Kombucha is his go-to drink and he has it constantly. We drink a lot of kombucha and kefir soda in our house!

My son, DJ, is a master mechanic and got a job right near the beach in beautiful San Clemente, California. He lived with us for a few months and asked for my help to fix an ulcer that was bothering him. He started drinking kefir every day and lost over 40 pounds and his ulcer is no more. He actually makes his own kefir now at the mechanic shop for himself and for anyone else who wants some. He goes to the local Sprouts grocery store for lunch to get a salad and kombucha almost every day and they actually know him by name now. He spends the weekends with us and I've been watching him transform and I gotta tell you, it's a wonderful thing to see.

Even my little Yorkie dog, Tank, started acting sick after we moved and was not doing well and I noticed blood in his urine. I started giving him kefir and he was right as rain within a day. Check out this blog for more on how kefir can help your kidneys.

Me, I have kefir for breakfast every morning along with my Einkorn Sourdough Bread. I have this wonderful granola recipe that’s in my book Cultured Food in a Jar. It's made with fresh bananas as a sweetener and is so crazy good I can't keep it in the house. My son just sent me a picture of his kefir he made this morning, I just made a batch of kefir no bake cookies today and Ron was grabbing kombucha for work and Holli was off to one of her rehearsals with a jar of kefir. This is my life. Not so much different from anybody else; we have all the stresses and struggles that others have, we just have these foods we eat that help us. Probiotics in jars that give us all the different things we need, we’ve just made it a habit that's fun.

So how about you? Do you have certain foods you eat when you're under pressure? It can make all the difference and it can be delicious. I make a lot of recipes for you but the truth is I need them more than anybody. Kefir changed every aspect of my life and I shall never be the same. Cultured veggies and kombucha - I need them, too. And water kefir and sourdough bread and yogurts and cheeses and fermented lemonade and the list goes on. These are the foods I love that help me and my family and they can help you too. You don’t have to believe me but one day you’ll need them and you’ll remember me and I’ll be waiting for that email that you will share with me about how it changed your life. And then we will both be changed cause after all, my friends, we're all in this together. It's worth the effort to stay healthy . .. It can change everything!

Here are some of our favorite recipes

Lemon Curd Kefir

Cultured Border Salsa

Ron's Kefir Onion Dip

Einkorn Sourdough

Hibiscus Kombucha

Lemon Ginger Kombucha

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Everybody I know leads busy lives, but did you know there is always help for you? My family had a lot of big changes this past year, but a constant through it all has been the way each member of my family uses and eats cultured foods. Maybe this could be the answer for you too?

Microbes In Your Gut


The microbes that have made your body their home are quite impressive, and most people are unaware of the magnitude of microbes that reside within them. One hundred trillion microbes is a tremendous amount, and let me better explain just how much this is. This is more than the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy and they're all abiding in you, creating you and it's time you understand what a miracle it is to be a human host for bacteria. We live in harmony with bacteria and fungi and trillions of organisms until we mess it up by pushing against them and killing them left and right with antibiotics, anti-bacterial disinfectants, chemicals, and an unhealthy diet creating an imbalance in our gut flora that works to keep us well each and every day. Understanding how this works is key to creating not only balance and harmony but making your body thrive like never before.

So how do we keep our trillions of bacteria happy? You feed them with lots of fiber; but first, you have to have the good strains of bacteria and that's where cultured foods come in. If you live in this day and age, most likely your gut flora has diminished due to chemicals and pesticides, drugs, highly processed foods, and overuse of antibiotics. Adding cultured foods is an excellent way to add the strains of bacteria you need. If you're unfamiliar with these special foods, I can teach you how to make them and use special cultures that can last your lifetime. See below.

Keeping The Mucosal Lining Intact

To feed these special strains of microbes you must feed them prebiotic fibers and then they grow and multiply. We all know fiber is good for digestive health, but new studies have revealed just how much gratitude we owe to roughage that we take for granted. Foods such as garlic, leeks, berries, fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains all contain lots of soluble and insoluble fibers that we can’t digest (and often receive no calories from); but our bacteria can digest them, and they thrive, grow, and multiply to make our inner ecosystem a powerful force for good in our lives. It makes us happy, healthy, calm and keeps us feeling fantastic. As the microbes grow from the fibrous food they work to help fight against intestinal infections and keep the mucosal lining intact which keeps out pathogens.

According to a study now published online in the journal Cell, fiber deprivation causes the gut microbes in animal studies to begin to eat the mucus lining of their gut.1 If this deprivation is allowed to continue for too long, it will cause a complete erosion of the gut and may allow invading bacteria to infect the colon wall. Researchers said this finding could have implications for possible uses of fiber against the effects of digestive tract disorders. In fact, leading researcher Eric Martens explained in a recent statement, "The lesson we're learning from studying the interaction of fiber, gut microbes, and the intestinal barrier system is that if you don't feed them, they can eat you!"

I saw this first hand with the effects of my daughter Maci many years ago when she went on an extremely low carb diet. She was a normal 16-year-old teenager and after a year or so on a diet that was extremely low carb with very little fiber she started having all kinds of stomach issues. Not that a low carb diet can't be healthy if you do it right, but you need a lot of fiber to keep these microbes happy and a lot of diverse kinds, too. Years of antibiotics had stripped her of all her good bacteria. Stress, certain foods she was eating, and a lack of nutrient-dense foods were destroying her gut lining. The lack of proper bacteria to turn her foods into vitamins and fatty acids was causing changes in her gut. There was nothing to protect her gut lining and she developed Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and multiple food allergies. Her microbes were in dire need of fiber in the form of prebiotic carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains to thrive and grow. She was essentially starving her microbes and was taking antibiotics. When your microbes don’t have any food, this can cause the pH in your gut to shift. This shift can favor the growth of less healthy, negative endotoxin-producing gut bacteria such as Bacteroides, and reduce the growth of positive bacteria that are “more healthy” for your gut. Jeff Leach from the American Gut project states, 2 “As pH shifts, prospects for opportunistic pathogens increase, as do opportunities for gram-negative bacteria like Bacteroides and Enterobacter. When you add this up – and a lot more shifts in the microbial ecology of the low-carb gut – you most certainly have a classic case of microbial dysbiosis – as the name implies, an imbalance. This dysbiosis can lead to issues associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, autoimmune disease, metabolic disorders, and so on.” This now makes sense to me since it was the perfect storm – she was a perfectly normal teenager with no food allergies, and suddenly she developed all kinds of symptoms and food allergies she’d never had before. Antibiotics had stripped her of all her good bacteria and left her defenseless. This, along with starving her microbiome with a lack of fiber to feed her microbes, was changing the world within, causing great pain and symptoms that changed the course of her life. We also found that just eliminating the offending foods will eliminate the pain to a degree. but then you need to fix the microbiome to re-establish a new inner microbiome. We fed her a cultured food at every meal and lots of prebiotic food, too. This regimen repaired the lining in her gut and her food allergies vanished. You can read more about this here. Healing From Food Allergies.

You can't expect all fibers to have the same functions, just like we don't expect all vitamins to have the same functions. Mixing different types of prebiotic fibers will ensure that they work together and will be as beneficial as possible. The real problem is we don't know we have a problem. Thirty-five percent of the people in this country think we are getting enough fiber. Men need about 35 grams and women need at least 25, but I think this is really low and we could do better with a lot more. We need lots of soluble fiber, which is what bacteria feed on. Insoluble fiber is good too for creating bulk for stools, but bacteria don't necessarily digest this type of fiber. Think of the foods as fertilizer for your microbes and then watch them do their thing while you go about your day. I love connecting with my body in this way. It helps me make better choices and understand this miraculous machine that creates everything I need from the foods I eat.

Here are just a few of my favorite prebiotic foods and supplements.

Acacia, often called acacia gum, contains 86% prebiotic content. It is used as a food stabilizer, has a substantial amount of fiber, and is essential for strengthening the population of good bacteria in your gut. One place to find this prebiotic is in the supplement Prebio Plus. I often add it to my tea or stir it into salad dressing. It’s wonderful since it can be used hot or cold.
Asparagus contains 5% prebiotic content. It diminishes in prebiotics the more it is cooked, so eat it raw or lightly cooked.
Bananas contain 1% prebiotic content. Green bananas and plantains contain up to 3% prebiotic fiber, depending on how ripe they are. The greener they are, the more prebiotics they contain.
Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries) contain from 1% to 3% prebiotic content. Eating them raw is the best way to ensure you get lots of prebiotics.
Carrots, cabbages, and apples contain 1% to 2% prebiotic content. I love carrots and apples and use them daily in my juices and meals.  I make tons of kraut with apples and carrots.  This way, I get probiotics and prebiotics in one jar.
Chicory Root/Inulin is 64.6% prebiotic content. Inulin is made from chicory root and is a powerful prebiotic. The chicory root is roasted to reduce some of its potency as it can cause stomach problems if not taken with a probiotic.  You can find inulin in Prebio Plus and sweet leaf stevia (the powder packages only). You can find chicory root in many coffee alternative drinks.
Dandelion Greens contain 24.3% prebiotic content. These are delicious as a salad and very enjoyable raw.
Raw Garlic contains 17.5% prebiotic content. As it ferments, garlic gets super bubbly and delicious, giving you both prebiotics and probiotics. When you cook garlic, it diminishes the amount of prebiotics as most of these fibers turn to sugars.
Seeds are also prebiotic, with flax seeds containing the most at 13% prebiotic content. Flaxseeds have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and modify the gut microbiota significantly in certain individuals with obesity.3
Fructo-oligosaccharides, or FOS, contain 35% prebiotic content. FOS is made from fruits and vegetables such as bananas, onions, chicory root, garlic, asparagus, jícama, and leeks. It's a subgroup of inulin. Grains such as wheat and barley also contain FOS. The Jerusalem artichoke and its relative yacon, together with the Blue Agave plant, have been found to have the highest concentrations of FOS found in cultured plants. You can also find FOS in Prebio Plus.
Honey contains 3% to 4 % prebiotic content. The interesting thing about honey is that it is also antibacterial as well as a prebiotic. This can confuse people: how does it kill bacteria and also help it grow? The antibacterial qualities protect the honey from harmful micro-organisms when it’s in the hive. Honey contains unique oligosaccharides that have an important prebiotic activity that works to increase the ever-important populations of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the body.
Jerusalem Artichokes are rich in prebiotic fiber with a 31.5% prebiotic content. It can be eaten lightly cooked to obtain the benefits of the super prebiotic fiber.
Leeks and Jicama contain 12% prebiotic content. These are some of my favorite veggies. I use leeks and jicama in so many dishes and fermented foods. I love the taste, especially in soups. Check out my Butternut Squash and Leek Soup in my Cultured Food for Health book, and check out jicama in my Flu Prevention Cultured Veggies.
Legumes, Rice, Potatoes, and Sweet Potatoes contain 2% to 7% prebiotic content. Legumes and potatoes also contain resistant starch which is another type of prebiotic fiber. Resistant starch does just what it says, it resists being digested in the small intestine until it enters the large intestine where it is fermented by bacteria. It stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the large intestine and boosts the production of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. Butyrate has powerful anti-inflammatory effects that go beyond the gut. You want more butyrate in your system as it is a powerful aid in preventing cancers, promoting weight loss, and boosting the immune system.
Raw Onions contain 8.6% prebiotic content. Cooked onions still contain 5%; but like garlic, much of the fiber turns to sugar. Raw is better!
Nuts contain 1% to 6% prebiotic content. Even roasted nuts can contain prebiotic fibers.
Whole Grains, Oats, Amaranth, Quinoa, Millet, and Buckwheat all contain 2% to 5% prebiotic content. It’s most important to eat sprouted or soaked grains or to consume bread made with sourdough starters.  These preparation methods help to unlock the nutrients by deactivating the phytic acid in grains that can wreak havoc on your gut and keep you from getting the vitamins and minerals. Oats have a lot of soluble fiber and so does amaranth, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat. These are especially helpful if you have problems with wheat.
Prebio Plus, Sweet Leaf Stevia, and Ecobloom all contain tons of prebiotics - up to 86% prebiotic fiber content. Prebio Plus has the most with three different prebiotics: inulin, acacia, and FOS. Sweet Leaf Stevia contains inulin as does Ecobloom. You can use these in all kinds of cultured foods. You can also add them to regular dishes by adding it to your coffee or tea or sprinkling it on salads and dressings. They’re all pretty powerful and a little goes a long way, so start out small when first using them. Combined with probiotic foods, you will feed the microbiome in your gut and allow it to grow and multiply. As with all prebiotics, you want to allow your body to adjust, and you want to avoid any undue gas as these fibers ferment and grow and change your inner eco-system.

There are many more prebiotics - these are just some of the more important ones. Concentrate on feeding your microbes lots of healthy probiotic foods and prebiotic fibers in fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and grains and watch as your microbes take care of you from the inside out. Here are some of the probiotic foods that can make all the difference.

Here Are The Different Foods That Contain Probiotic Strains

How to Make Milk Kefir

How to Make Kombucha

How to Make Cultured Veggies

How to Make Water Kefir

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Find out how important it is to feed your microbes. If your trillions of microbes don’t get what they need, they can start to eat the mucosal lining of the gut, leading to leaky gut, IBS, and more. Find out how to keep them happy and fed!


  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161117134626.htm
  2. http://humanfoodproject.com/sorry-low-carbers-your-microbiome-is-just-not-that-into-you/
  3. Brahe LK, et al. Dietary modulation of the gut microbiota - a randomized controlled trial in obese postmenopausal women. Br J Nutr. 2015 Jul 2:1-12. [Epub ahead of print]

So How Do You Change Your Microbiome?

Helping Friends Get Better

I talk a lot about your body and what your body is made out of. Those 100 trillion microbes (which is more than ten times the cells in the body) that call you home are your constant companions. Most of you don’t even know your microbes because you can’t see them, but they know you and work their darndest to keep you alive each day. These unseen helpers made their presence known to me and saved my life, and the life of my daughter and family; and then in gratefulness, I started sharing all they could do with all my friends and started seeing them and their children recover from a myriad of diseases and it was pure joy. I felt I had stumbled upon a secret that nobody knew about and then I met Jolene.
People like to think that I’m special or weird. They say things like, "Oh yeah, that works for her, but not me." Or, "She’s a freak and it's weird and she’s crazy and I don’t want to do that. Let foods ferment on your counter? That’s just nuts and dangerous." Jolene's daughter was in the same dance and acting classes as my daughter, and she would watch me and my friends (whose kids had gotten better) and thought we had lost our minds. She said we had a "food cult" and all the stuff we ate was weird. Jolene was pregnant at the time. A few years later when her little boy was two, he was, as she put it, “in a stupor." He wasn’t communicating or crawling and he wasn’t thriving. He had a distended belly and he didn’t seem to be developing at the right pace, but I would watch this little guy and he was observing everything! I could see his mind working, but he was locked away from finding his way out and expressing himself in words and actions. She went to so many dietitians and doctors and to no avail. Nothing was working. He had so many food allergies, and it was so overwhelming that after years of discouragement she sat down in a chair across from me at dance class and said, “I’m ready to listen. Nothing is working. I’ve tried everything, please help me understand what you do. I’m desperate." He wasn’t absorbing his nutrients from his food and his diet was so limited that we had to do things in many special ways. We started with coconut kefir because he was allergic to dairy. He did great with vegetables so he could have lots of cultured vegetables. He loved kombucha, so we started with what I call The Trilogy: kefir, kombucha, and cultured vegetables. She had to give him a special protein made from peas because he couldn't handle any other kind of protein. He seemed to do well using coconut oil as a fat. This little guy was mostly living on just a few foods and not absorbing any nutrients so his brain wasn’t working. She gave him one of these cultured foods at every meal to help him digest his food and unlock the nutrients. And, lo and below, I kid you not, in a few weeks he started speaking in sentences. Fast forward a year later and he was no longer allergic to the foods he had been allergic to. And he was reading at 3 years old! It was as if he was making up for lost time and he was made brand new. This is not an uncommon thing to see in my work; and actually, there is a lot of science to support and explain why this works.

Reset Your Gut And Your Body Will Respond Accordingly

Inside of you are trillions of microbes that make up the body known as you. Without them, you can’t digest your food and receive the nutrients that you need to build your body and to have the building blocks of nutrients needed for cognitive function. Your emotions, believe it or not, are controlled by your gut bacteria. Studies now suggest that gut bacteria help control anxiety and stress responses. Your cravings for food are determined by how many microbes you have in your gut. If you crave a lot of sugar and fat then you have a lot of sugar- and fat-loving microbes - and the same with healthy foods. If you reset your microbes, you can change your habits, your behavior, and the markers that create inflammation and disease in your body. You will begin to heal just by resetting the microbes in your gut.

There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in this world that is out of your control, but there is one thing you can control and that is what you put in your mouth. Just do this one thing and watch your microbes help you. Reset your gut and your body will respond accordingly. It's amazing! It takes a firm decision on your part and you're gonna see such a change. Here’s what happened to me just because I made the decision to make a kefir smoothie for breakfast. I started to feel better so I drank more of it, and then I decided to try some kombucha and then cultured vegetables. I felt so much better, so I added more healthy foods that fed my microbes like fruits and vegetables and legumes and it started to snowball. This is how I found myself here, telling everyone I know how to feed their microbes. Call it what it is, I call it Grace, I call it answers to my prayers, I call it a miracle. Who would have thought that the microbes that are in me and you are calling us to wellness and we don’t even know it?

Do you want to have an impact on your world? Then change what you eat. You won’t be needing the doctor anymore so you save money and use it other places and help increase the economy. You‘ll be happy and feel good so you’ll do more things to help others. You‘ll need less sleep so you’ll have more time to do things you love. You’ll need less sick days at work so you‘ll become Employee of the Year. You’ll share your knowledge with others and they will get better and then people will think you’re crazy or join you. You might even find yourself with a book and a website and podcast and it is not my fault if this happens to you! It’s a side effect of being happy.

Reset Your Gut And Your Body Will Respond Accordingly

Inside of you are trillions of microbes that make up the body known as you. Without them, you can’t digest your food and receive the nutrients that you need to build your body and to have the building blocks of nutrients needed for cognitive function. Your emotions, believe it or not, are controlled by your gut bacteria. Studies now suggest that gut bacteria help control anxiety and stress responses. Your cravings for food are determined by how many microbes you have in your gut. If you crave a lot of sugar and fat then you have a lot of sugar- and fat-loving microbes - and the same with healthy foods. If you reset your microbes, you can change your habits, your behavior, and the markers that create inflammation and disease in your body. You will begin to heal just by resetting the microbes in your gut.

There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in this world that is out of your control, but there is one thing you can control and that is what you put in your mouth. Just do this one thing and watch your microbes help you. Reset your gut and your body will respond accordingly. It's amazing! It takes a firm decision on your part and you're gonna see such a change. Here’s what happened to me just because I made the decision to make a kefir smoothie for breakfast. I started to feel better so I drank more of it, and then I decided to try some kombucha and then cultured vegetables. I felt so much better, so I added more healthy foods that fed my microbes like fruits and vegetables and legumes and it started to snowball. This is how I found myself here, telling everyone I know how to feed their microbes. Call it what it is, I call it Grace, I call it answers to my prayers, I call it a miracle. Who would have thought that the microbes that are in me and you are calling us to wellness and we don’t even know it?

Do you want to have an impact on your world? Then change what you eat. You won’t be needing the doctor anymore so you save money and use it other places and help increase the economy. You‘ll be happy and feel good so you’ll do more things to help others. You‘ll need less sleep so you’ll have more time to do things you love. You’ll need less sick days at work so you‘ll become Employee of the Year. You’ll share your knowledge with others and they will get better and then people will think you’re crazy or join you. You might even find yourself with a book and a website and podcast and it is not my fault if this happens to you! It’s a side effect of being happy.

7 Ways To Change Your Microbiome

#1 Stop Murdering Your Microbes!

Chemicals and pesticides that flood our environment disrupt our inner flora and can even kill it. A common ingredient in antibacterial soaps called Triclosan1 has been linked to food allergens and thyroid issues. The FDA issued a final rule establishing that over-the-counter consumer antiseptic wash products containing the active ingredient Triclosan can no longer be marketed.2

Overuse of antibiotics - I'm not against antibiotics. I think they're necessary in some cases, but they are way overprescribed and wind up causing more damage than they do helping if they're not used properly. If you do need to take an antibiotic, then you need to also rebuild your ecosystem when the antibiotics wipe out the good and bad bacteria indiscriminately. There are many ways to do this and ingesting cultured foods is a great place to start. You can check out this article for more help. What to do if you have to take an antibiotic.

Eating processed and junk foods devoid of nutrients starves your microbiome and can even cause them to die. When you start feeding your body real whole foods, your body and microbe population will start to crave them and eating healthy will be easy and fun. You are what you eat!

#2 Rebuild your Microbiome with a Kefir Smoothie

A habit is something you may not know you are doing; but once you realize you are doing it, then it becomes a choice and you can stop doing it or keep it going. We all want something miraculous to change us, but that is seldom how it works. Seventeen years ago, I never dreamed I would be eating and making these foods and teaching others to do the same. My life consisted of just getting through the day because I felt so awful. Trying to survive and take care of my family, my needs were on the back burner; but I got gentle nudges that felt like someone was trying to help me. I was constantly being reminded that I was so much more. I would read books and listen to lectures online and I would ache inside. I wanted to change and be well, and not just my body but my spirit was so hungry and I didn’t know what to do. I found kefir and slowly things began to change. I started rituals every morning. I would make and consume kefir every morning, and then my whole diet began to change and I felt so, so much better. Then as I felt better, the world around me and in me started to change. Wellness became the norm and not the exception. This is where it all began, with something as simple as a kefir smoothie. Check out these recipes.

Click here

#3 Feeding the universe of microbes inside of you

Do you remember when eating fiber became the new craze and they were putting fiber in everything? I never understood all this since the body couldn’t absorb any of the fiber. Yes, it was supposed to keep things moving along throughout the colon to speed elimination, but how was it helping the body’s immune system? What about fruits and vegetables? Everyone knows that we should eat more of them, but why are they so special? These prebiotics act as a fertilizer to promote the growth of the good bacteria in our gut. This is essential to the health and function of our immune system. You want a large and diverse amount of good bacteria in your gut, and eating cultured foods accomplishes this. With the addition of prebiotics, you have a super strong combination that boosts your immune system. Prebiotics also strengthen your ability to absorb calcium, magnesium, and other minerals usually lacking in our diets.

Here are just a few of my favorite prebiotic foods and supplements:

Asparagus, artichokes, leeks, onions, nuts, bananas, berries, carrots cabbage, apples, chicory root (inulin), dandelion greens, raw garlic, seeds (such as flax seeds), honey, whole grains, oats, amaranth, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat.

Acacia, often called acacia gum, contains 86% prebiotic content. It is used as a food stabilizer, has a substantial amount of fiber, and is essential for strengthening the population of good bacteria in your gut. One place to find this prebiotic is in the supplement Prebio Plus. I often add it to my tea or stir it into salad dressing. It’s wonderful since it can be used hot or cold. Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) contain 35% prebiotic content. FOS is made from fruits and vegetables such as bananas, onions, chicory root, garlic, asparagus, jícama, and leeks. It’s a subgroup of inulin. Grains such as wheat and barley also contain FOS. The Jerusalem artichoke and its relative yacon, together with the Blue Agave plant, have been found to have the highest concentrations of FOS found in cultured plants. You can also find FOS in Prebio Plus.

#4 Get Outside Get dirty

Next, get outside and get your hands dirty – as in, do some gardening, plant some flowers, mow your lawn, or do any activity that will connect you and your immune system with the trillions of microbes in the soil. These microbes have been found to work like Prozac. In 2007, Christopher Lowry, associate professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Center for Neuroscience at University of Colorado at Boulder, and a team of researchers published an article in Neuroscience that had people discovering that dirt was the new Prozac.3 A bacteria found in soil called Mycobacterium has been found to affect the same neurons as Prozac, offering people a natural lift in mood. They exposed lung cancer patients to this bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae, found in soil. The patients unexpectedly reported increases in their quality of life, including a brighter mood. The very same thing was happening to me and it was undeniable that the effects were coming from spending time outside in nature. I have known many gardeners who have exclaimed how gardening is their happy place. Which convinces me more that we should grow our own food. It's good for the body, the mind, and it brings us a quiet peacefulness inside.

#5 Kombucha — the Fermented Tea Your Body Loves

Kombucha has so many benefits that I don't hesitate to drink it every day.
Kombucha has antibiotic-resistant probiotic yeast: In addition to the good bacteria in kombucha there is a special probiotic yeast called Saccharomyces Boulardii (S. boulardii) that is resistant to antibiotics, which makes it incredibly useful for maintaining a healthy gut when treating an illness with antibiotics.4

Kombucha protects the stomach lining: It neutralizes toxins produced by harmful pathogens and sends out a signal to the body to reduce inflammation that can lead to a number of negative health outcomes. The probiotic in kombucha (S. boulardii) can also act as a decoy to harmful pathogens. It attracts and binds with the pathogens, keeping them from attaching to the intestinal wall and doing damage. 5

Kombucha reduces joint pain: Kombucha contains acetic acid, which not only helps stabilize blood sugar but also contains an analgesic (pain reliever) and anti-arthritic compounds which help remove toxins that may have accumulated in joints causing pain and inflammation. Other compounds in kombucha include mucoitin sulfate, heparin, and hyaluronic acid, which help provide lubrication and protection to existing joint tissue. 6

Kombucha assists the liver in detoxification: Kombucha is full of glucuronic acid, which plays a part in one of the body’s most important detoxification processes: glucuronidation, a process in which glucuronic acid binds to toxins and transforms them so they can be easily eliminated by the kidneys. The liver produces this substance naturally, but sometimes the body can’t keep up with the number of pollutants that it comes into contact with. The extra glucuronic acid in kombucha basically helps make up the difference.7

#6 Cultured Vegetables and Its Many Wonders

Make a jar of cultured vegetables that can last many, many months perfectly preserved in your fridge. It will have many health benefits and if you don't have a jar, you can't reap those benefits so I encourage you to make or buy one and see for yourself all they can do.

Removes Pesticides:
The process of fermentation removes pesticides from the vegetables with the
special bacteria L. plantarum. 8 Not only does it help remove pesticides and chemicals from the veggies, but it removes them from inside of you, too. It’s exciting that microbes can help us by removing pesticides from our vegetables. It’s often a hardship for people to always buy organic, but the healthy bacteria L. plantarum can remedy this. L. plantarum bacterial strains studied from fermented vegetables in kimchi were found to be capable of degrading four different organophosphorus insecticides by using them as a source of carbon and phosphorous.

Adds Vitamins And Minerals: When you culture or ferment your cabbage into sauerkraut, the vitamin C and antioxidant levels go through the roof. Researchers at Cornell University tested levels of antioxidants and vitamin C in sauerkraut. They found the average level of vitamin C in raw cabbage was 57 mg per cup; but when fermented, the level was close 700 mg! Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and it protects the body against stress and helps boost the immune system.

Safest And Best Food Method To Preserve Vegetables: U.S. Department of Agriculture research service microbiologist Fred Breidt says properly fermented vegetables are actually safer than raw vegetables, which might have been exposed to pathogens like E. coli on the farm. “With fermented products, there is no safety concern. I can flat-out say that. The reason is the lactic acid bacteria that carry out the fermentation are the world’s best killers of other bacteria,” says Breidt, who works at a lab at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, where scientists have been studying fermented and other pickled foods since the 1930s.

Stomach Distress Of Any Kind: L. plantarum is pretty powerful and can even knock out food poisoning (as I myself have witnessed). It has been studied and found successful in the inhibition of food poisoning and pathogenic bacteria, and it is being studied for use in improving the microbiological safety of foods. 9 It’s also superior for any kind of stomach distress. I’ve seen this again and again and received so many emails with stories telling me how effective it was in stopping vomiting, stomach cramps, and nausea with just a spoonful of the brine or vegetables. Try it and it will make you a believer, too. Nothing works better for stomach distress.

#7 Replace Your Soda With Water Kefir

Water kefir grains, or we call them kefir crystals, are unlike milk kefir grains as they thrive on sugars and not lactose. The special probiotic yeasts and beneficial bacteria in the water kefir crystals consume the sugar in the sugar water. Then they produce probiotics, new enzymes, vitamins, and help repopulate your gut flora. They are dairy free and gluten free despite being called “grains.” They look slightly different from milk kefir grains and are translucent while milk kefir grains are white.

These live active crystals contain over 14 different types of yeast and bacteria existing in what some people call a symbiotic relationship, but that is not exactly true. Bacteria and yeast fight for dominance and each of them keeps the other in balance. The yeasts (which are probiotics too) are fast growers but run out of room to grow due to the larger amount of good bacteria. They are then forced to ferment and the by-product is the lovely naturally occurring carbonation present in water kefir. Bacteria and yeasts work in our bodies much the same way. You need both to have a healthy gut microbiome. You need more beneficial bacteria than yeasts and when you have this harmony, all is well. I love all that bacteria can do, and water kefir can help you replace drinks that don’t have health benefits such as sodas and energy drinks. For thousands of years, probiotic cultures have helped keep our foods and drinks safe through the process of fermentation. When a food or beverage is fermented, it is loaded with beneficial bacteria and yeasts that keep out harmful bacteria. The fermentation increases the minerals and vitamins and helps you digest the foods you eat when you have a glass with your meal.

Listen To My Podcast

It's so important to heal and nourish your gut. Hippocrates stated, "All diseases begin in the gut". I found seven ways to accomplish the task and it changed everything for me. Let me show you easy ways to heal your gut. Love your body and let it shine for you!

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."Thomas Jefferson

Many years ago I was addicted to diet cola. I know, I know. It is terrible for you. But still, I couldn't stop drinking it. I had drunk it for years and when I first started eating cultured foods they made me want to conquer my addiction.  But try as I might, I couldn't stop drinking it. It would call my name, so I knew it was an addictive substance. It had a hold of me and it was not giving up without a fight. Interesting things begin to happen when you start to nourish your cells with real food. You start wanting to eat better and better. The desire and feelings of wellness start to take over and you will begin to change. Slowly sometimes, but gradually this happened to me. Like having a personal trainer, my body began to train me to eat healthier because I wanted to feel good.

Changes In The Body

Naturally Occurring CO2

I noticed something wonderful that began to happen when I started drinking kombucha. The fizz that I loved in pop was naturally occurring in kombucha. It was not through forced carbonation but naturally occurring CO2 made through the bacteria and yeast that consumed the sugars and then made a natural bubbliness. I felt so good when I drank kombucha that I stopped craving diet cola, and I started reaching for kombucha instead.

Kombucha assists the liver in detoxification

Kombucha is full of glucuronic acid which plays a part in one of the body's most important detoxification processes: glucuronidation, a process in which glucuronic acid binds to toxins and transforms them so they can be easily eliminated by the kidneys. The liver produces this substance naturally, but sometimes the body can’t keep up with the number of pollutants that it comes into contact with. The extra glucuronic acid in kombucha basically helps make up the difference. 1

Kombucha also helps your kidneys

Kombucha may help kidneys eliminate environmental pollutants.  Every day, your kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to remove and eliminate chemicals and toxins.  Calcium builds up in the blood tissues and can cause calcification throughout the body, which can cause calcification in the kidneys (aka kidney stones). Kombucha has been used to prevent the kidneys from forming kidney stones by helping to purify and remove toxins.2,3

The more kombucha I drank, the better I felt. My cravings for the artificial poisonous substances in soda began to leave me. After about eight months of not drinking diet cola, I was on vacation and someone bought me a diet cola. To be polite I drank it and as they kept refilling my drink I drank more and more. As my vacation continued I started drinking more diet cola and within a few days I started having severe dizziness and my eyes were having trouble focusing. It scared me and really ruined my vacation, but I didn't realize (at the time) that it was the diet cola. I thought something terrible was happening and there was something wrong in my brain. It got so bad that I had to take Dramamine, I felt so dizzy.

As soon as I got home I started drinking kombucha and stopped the diet cola and all the symptoms went away. I never put two and two together and assumed it was just a virus that had scared me to death. But I was happy the symptoms were gone. I didn't recognize that my body was guiding me and had put out a red flag that said, "DANGER!"

Symptoms returned with a vengeance

Two months later at my daughter's Christmas play, I was in charge of refreshments and of course, everybody brought pop to drink and nothing else. Everybody just always brought pop and never thought a thing about it. I thought regular pop was terrible for you and there was nothing else to drink so I drank diet pop all night. The next day the symptoms returned with a vengeance. When I tried to get out of bed in the morning I felt so dizzy that I almost fell over. Scared me to death. Confused and unable to think straight, I called my brother-in-law, a medical doctor, and asked him if he thought I had a brain tumor. My brother-in-law is such a great guy and always answers my questions when I probe him for how the body works. He never tires of my questions and is always happy to answer all 50 million of them. He didn't know what could be causing this but did go into detail about how the eyes and brain are connected and how the human brain has to interpret four different sets of electrical impulses from the light being picked up by the eyes.

Later that afternoon, in the kitchen washing dishes, it suddenly hit me. Both times when I got dizzy I had drunk diet cola, a lot of it. I rushed to the internet and found that aspartame, one of the main ingredients in Diet Coke, can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and eye problems. It is a neurotoxin that can greatly affect the brain and everything connected to it. I had my answer, it was my body giving me a warning sign. But why hadn't I had these effects when I drank tons of it years before? Was it because I had detoxed from it and then putting it back in after being free from it made my body revolt and teach me what it needed? This is my theory. Our body is a complex, magnificent machine that knows how to act and my body was actually helping me. I have a strong desire to be well and experience all this life has to offer.  So many times I treated my body as something to just put up with, and instead I have found it is my best friend and teacher. Every day it is manifesting to me how I am doing.

Food addictions and habits that you don't want

If you find yourself with some food addictions and habits that you don't want anymore, my suggestion to you is just start adding the good stuff into your diet. You don't have to change all at once. I didn't, but I did begin by adding cultured foods and little by little my cells responded by behaving differently. Before I knew it, I was craving the foods that my body loved and thrived on naturally. It's like having a personal trainer go with you everywhere. Your body will teach you what it needs to be well nourished.   Little things can make a big difference and desire is the key to change. One day at a time.

How To Make Kombucha

Kombucha was very influential in curing my addiction and a million other things. It helps me balance my hormones, keep my joints healthy, and also helps my immune system stay strong and healthy! Kombucha is my food-like-medicine remedy for so many things.

More about Kombucha

How to Make Kombucha

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

Listen To My Podcast

Addictions —many of us have them, especially when it comes to unhealthy food or beverages. However, I found something to help! Check out the show to discover how to set yourself free.

When I first started with cultured foods almost two decades ago, one of the first things I noticed was the relief of joint pain in my knee. This was in the very beginning of drinking and making kefir every day. If I quit drinking kefir, it only took about three to four days before the pain would return, so I kept drinking my kefir! Kefir wasn't the only cultured food that helped me with pain in my joints - kombucha and cultured veggies have helped me too. I have gotten many emails sharing similar stories and research is starting to understand the power of microbes in the gut. New evidence has come forth showing that those with different forms of arthritis have different bugs in their gut that cause inflammation and autoimmune disease.1 So here is what I've learned and I hope it will shed some light on what's really going on in the body when it flares up with joint pain or arthritis.

Microbes In Your Gut

All Disease Begins In The Gut

Your body is host to trillions of microbes. This microbiome can influence your health in a powerful way. In fact, Hippocrates stated, "All disease begins in the gut," and more and more we are finding this to be true. Microbes are most often protective, guarding against pathogens and inflammation, but strong evidence suggests that disruptions in the microbial ecosystem may cause or contribute to many chronic diseases by interacting with your immune system. This includes inflammation in the joints and even different types of arthritis.

If you have an inflammatory type of arthritis, changing your diet and consuming cultured foods loaded with probiotics might be very important for you. Consuming lots of beneficial bacteria appears to have an impact on inflammation, reducing common biomarkers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein.

Sonya Angelone, registered dietitian, nutritionist, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stated, “People with inflammatory arthritis have been shown to have inflammation of the intestinal tract, which results in increased intestinal permeability. This enables certain bacteria to cross the intestinal barrier, get into the bloodstream and trigger an inflammatory response. Probiotics may be able to help decrease the inflammation associated with increased intestinal permeability. A healthy diet helps keep the intestinal barrier strong and the immune system in top fighting condition.” Angelone adds, “Healthy foods and probiotic supplements can work together to keep joints healthy and also keep the rest of the body strong.”

Studies On Probiotics And Arthritis

A study (done in 20142 and published in The Journal of Nutrition) recruited 46 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). They were divided into two groups. One group received daily probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus casei and the other group received a placebo. After eight weeks, several markers of inflammation were significantly lower in the probiotic group, leading researchers to do more studies. These conclusions may lead to the use of probiotics as an adjunct therapy for patients with RA.

Another study on RA was done using a 3 specially designed probiotic made to survive harsh stomach acids. Most probiotic supplements are killed in stomach acids while probiotic foods have a protective halo that helps them survive and speed to the parts of the body where they can thrive and flourish. This study was a double-blind, randomized controlled trial using the probiotic Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086. The subjects were given the probiotic once a day for 60 days in addition to their standard anti-arthritic medications.

The results of the study reported significant improvements in pain assessment score when compared to the placebo. Those receiving the Bacillus supplement reported improvements in global and self-assessments of disability, the ability to walk two miles, physical reach, and the ability to participate in daily activities.

This has sparked exciting new possibilities in intense scientific research in the gut microbiome and arthritis. Maybe Hippocrates was right!

Dr. Mercola from the Mercola Natural Health Center and alternative medicine proponent has a wonderful story of a woman named Sarah. Dr. Mercola helped put her rheumatoid arthritis into remission.

Sarah was only 28 years old and was experiencing a lot of pain. When she went to a well-known rheumatologist in Milwaukee, he told her she needed to stop running or risk becoming permanently disabled. She was put on the drug methotrexate which is actually an anti-cancer drug. The side effects of this drug can be quite horrible. Her liver was checked every month and she began losing some of her hair. A rheumatology researcher told her to keep taking the drug, but expect it to shave fifteen to twenty years off her life.

Sarah stated, "I was really afraid of what that drug was going to do to my body. The physical therapist who recommended I get tested for RA said there was a lot I can do naturally. So I read a lot of books about rheumatoid arthritis and different alternative treatments. I read there's a possibility of it being connected with an infection, and that a low dose of antibiotics was being prescribed. I then came across your name in a book. I looked you up, found you in Chicago, and made an appointment."

She started on a new regimen and changed her diet quite dramatically with healthy fats, proteins, and fermented foods and the results were spectacular. In Sarah's own words, "I learned how to ferment my own vegetables and dairy products. I made my own kombucha, yogurt, cultured butter, milk kefir, and coconut kefir. It took almost two years to get my system in balance, but right away, I noticed a difference. In about two weeks my cravings for wheat, bread, and sugar diminished. You did a live cell analysis before and after the diet. My live cell analysis showed I had leaky gut and digestive proteins in my bloodstream.

I came back three months after being very strict with the diet. I felt better; I'd lost about 10 pounds. I had so much more energy and felt lighter. But when they did the live cell analysis and showed me on the screen that my blood cells were perfectly round, strong, and healthy — when I saw that my blood completely changed — that's when I really believed that food was medicine."

A year after following this strict regimen she was able to resume her physical activities and she even won an entire triathlon.4

Cultured Foods As Medicine

One of the many ways I use cultured foods as medicine in my everyday life is consuming kombucha, kefir, and cultured veggies on a daily basis. I had a sports injury that left me with a lot of pain and much to my surprise 16 ounces of kombucha a day made the pain go away. I tested this theory and sure enough, as long as I had it every day the pain stayed away. Once it healed, I became a firm believer that kombucha is good for joints.

Kombucha contains many components that can help improve joint health. Glucuronic acid(GlcUA), Gluconacetobacter, Chondroitin sulfate, Mucoitin sulfate, Heparin, Hyaluronic acid (HA) and glucosamine. All of these bacteria and enzymes can help the body to rebuild tissues. 5

GlcUA and its oligomers are used as pharmaceuticals; for example, HA serves as a lubricant and shock absorber; heparin is used as an anticoagulant. GlcUA in the human body can be converted into chondroitin sulfate associated with cartilage, collagen and the fluid that lubricates joints. Hyaluronic acid is a viscous jelly-like substance that fills the intercellular spaces of human tissues; it is present in the synovial fluid of joints, the vitreous humor of the eye, in the umbilical cord, and in mucous secretions such as saliva. Does it work for everybody? Well, this is yet to be known, but I have seen it work for myself and many, many others. Since it is just a fermented drink that is delicious and fun to make, I hope you will see for yourself if this probiotic drink needs a place in your kitchen. I couldn't go without this wonder drink.

Here are the foods that have helped me with joint pain when it occurs. Luckily it is always short lived for me, and I hope it will be for you too. Cultured foods aren’t a panacea. You also need to pay attention to the rest of your diet and be mindful of harmful substances that can tax the immune system and kill your microbes. The wonderful thing about caring for the microbes in your gut is what great teachers they can be. You’ll learn so much as you add them to your diet. The healthier you get, the less tolerant your body will become of harmful foods and substances. You’ll get warning signs when something is out of sync with you. Your body wants to be healthy and once you start down this road, hang on to your hat! You’ll learn so much about what it takes for you to be healthy. Those 100 trillion microbes have a way of letting you know what’s needed. Feed them and take the ride. It could quite possibly change everything. Just you wait and see!

How to Make Milk Kefir

How to Make Kombucha

How to Make Veggies

About ten years ago I went to a class on “How to Make Sourdough Bread.” My daughter had gluten intolerance and we found that she could eat sprouted bread without the side effects created by regular bread. I had heard that sourdough bread achieved similar results to the sprouted bread, and I wanted to try it. What I learned shocked me. The man teaching the class explained that the process of making sourdough was an ancient art and one that had many benefits that we are unaware of today. Why do so many of us struggle with gluten today? There are all kinds of books and websites dedicated to gluten-free living, and rightfully so, because the bread we have today is very different from the bread we ate for hundreds of years. But why is gluten intolerance an epidemic in this day and age? What has changed?

"Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack.  We give it orders which make no sense."Henry Miller

History Of Bread

Before the 1950’s, most bread bakeries ran two shifts of workers because the dough was fermented throughout the night with a long and slow process using a culture that contained the lactobacillus bacteria. This slow process was necessary for bread to be properly digested. In the process of making sourdough bread, the bran in the flour is broken down during the long rising time, releasing nutrients into the dough. Only when wheat gluten is properly fermented or sprouted (to learn more about sprouted bread click here) is it healthy for human consumption.  When not, it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods we eat. The phytic acid in grain needs to be 90% neutralized in order for the minerals to be absorbed by the human body. When you naturally ferment or sprout bread, you eliminate all phytic acid. About 90% of the phytic acid remains in bread made with instant yeasts unless it is sprouted bread.

New methods harm the gut

In their efforts to increase profits and speed up the bread making process, bakers began using new techniques that took only three hours to make a loaf of bread - and now can even take only one hour. They used the new instant yeasts which made the old way of making bread (using cultures and fermentation that not only help to preserve food but also increase the nutrients available for our bodies) unnecessary.

During the making of sourdough bread, complex carbohydrates are broken down into more digestible simple sugars, and protein is broken down into amino acids. Enzymes develop during rising. These enzymes are not lost while baking since the center of the loaf remains at a lower temperature than the crust. This fermentation, partly from lactobacillus, also allows for a bread that is lower on the glycemic index, thus making it better for those with blood sugar issues. The fermentation also helps restore the functioning of the digestive tract resulting in proper assimilation and elimination.

Chemicals sprayed on wheat

There is a common process that is happening to our wheat before harvesting. According to farmers who grow wheat, applying the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) just prior to harvest is commonplace among farmers who grow wheat crops. The manufacturer of Roundup, Monsanto, claims that application to plants at over 30% kernel moisture results in Roundup uptake by the plant into the kernels. This allows the Farmers to harvest their wheat earlier since the wheat plant will be killed off by the roundup. These changes in our bread have had devastating effects on our gut. I believe that along with the chemicals, soil depletion, and the loss of fermentation and probiotic foods that heal and protect our bodies, our diets are wreaking havoc on our guts. This, in turn, is causing a rise in all kinds of food allergies. Our diets are a dim reflection of the nutrient-dense whole foods we used to eat years ago. Pharmaceuticals are the norm and not the exception, and food allergies and gut issues are rampant along with a host of other health issues. The average consumer is unaware of these changes in our food supply and then labels gluten and bread as the enemy when they don't realize the culprit is the dramatic changes in the actual process of making bread today.

Gluten Intolerance And Sourdough

Easy KefirIt was my daughter Maci's inability to digest wheat that started me on a journey learning about foods that were transformed when they were sprouted or made with sourdough. People who came to my classes and website were experiencing the same results when eating bread that was made with sourdough cultures or sprouted. Even those who were gluten intolerant seemed to do really well. Now, not everybody who is gluten intolerant can handle it right away. They need to heal their guts first with cultured foods on a regular basis or try Einkorn sourdough which is missing the protein that is hard for those with difficulty handling gluten. After this occurs, I have seen so many people thrive when eating bread as long as these breads were fermented or sprouted.

Ferment it for 7 hours or longer

Sourdough bread is transformed when it is fermented for 7 hours or longer. Then it is not only easily digested, but can often be handled by those who are gluten intolerant. Here is a recipe to make overnight sourdough bread. It is the best one for beginners and the one I think tastes the best. Well . . . that's not entirely true. I love so many, but this one has a great flavor and is easy. I have devised a slower, longer fermentation method that is even more effective for those who have severe gluten problems.

Try an Ancient Wheat

einkorn sourdough breadThose who are severely gluten intolerant might want to try an ancient wheat such as Einkorn flour. Einkorn wheat is the most ancient species of wheat. All wheat that we consume today is descended from Einkorn wheat which has about 14 chromosomes as compared to other wheats which have 28-42. This is important since some studies show that ancient wheat, with its fewer chromosomes, has lower levels of gliadins. Gliadins are proteins that can cause sensitivities in those who struggle with gluten. Einkorn does not contain this troublesome D genome, only the A genome, and most testing for gluten intolerance is based on the D genome. And while einkorn does contain gluten, it is a different type of gluten and allows for easier digestion and nutrient absorption. It is also delicious and one of my favorite sourdough breads that I make and eat each week.

You can find out more about Einkorn Sourdough Bread here:

Click here

I hope I can shed some light on this problem that is facing so many. As always, I want to share with you what has changed my life and so many others.

“The Most Powerful Story a Person Can Tell is the Story They Tell With Their Lives.”
Tom Shadyac

How to Make Sourdough Bread

If you would like to try your hand at making sourdough, check out the recipe.

Einkorn Sourdough Bread

If you would like to try your hand at making Einkorn sourdough, check out the recipe.

Donna's Sourdough Culture

If you need a sourdough culture, check out mine.

Listen To My Podcast

Our bread is made so differently than in years gone by, and it’s wreaking havoc on our bodies. Understand the science of why this is, and how bacteria can change your bread into something healthy. Walk in the footsteps of those who made bread for thousands of years and called it the staff of life.

"When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another."Helen Keller

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

This is one of the most personal blogs I have ever written. I wrote it several years ago, but what I didn't know was that the pain was the catalyst that changed everything in my life. I hope it will help you, inspire you, and encourage you to never give up, even when things look like they are going in the wrong direction. For this is how you find the miracles that have been waiting for you.

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."Martin Luther King, Jr.

2009 was a year for the record books for me. One that is so etched in my soul I shall never forget it. Like many families, we began struggling financially. Things kept going from bad to worse; and as the time passed, it looked like we might lose our home. My father had died the year before and the holidays were marked with pain for my mother and sisters. With my mother in more pain that I had ever seen, and my own family spiraling into unknown territory, I was wondering what would become of our life and home. I was faced with an unbelievable amount of fear. I realized that I needed help. Did I really believe all the things that I said to other people? Did I practice faith or did I just expect it to find me? In despair, I decided to train my mind to not think of the things that were causing me such pain. I tried every day to find something to be thankful and joyful about. To, in essence, practice faith and to hope and trust with every fiber of my being that it would be OK.  At Christmas parties, I decided I would not be the one to talk about how bad our economy was, but rather speak of how things were going to get better. Many times people would berate me a little by saying that they just didn't have as much faith as me. But most of those people had suffered job losses. So I quietly prayed for so many of them, that they would find new jobs. Everyone that I did this for actually got new jobs and their situations turned around.

It took a few weeks and the fear began to leave and it started to be replaced with hope. Although nothing had changed, I began to see messages everywhere. In songs and books, in people's words, and on billboards and movies. It was as if the entire universe was creating this world of hope just for me. The first nugget I got was in the song I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns. (Please listen to the song, it is part of the blog.) When I first heard this song, I swear it sounded like angels to me. I cried so hard I felt as though I would break. Then I read the story of the man who wrote it and I cried harder.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) wrote this song about the tragic death of his wife, Fanny, and the injury of his son. Fanny had dropped candle wax on her dress which engulfed her in flames and she died the next day. Almost a year later, Longfellow received word that his oldest son, Charles, a lieutenant in the Civil war, had been severely wounded with a bullet passing under his shoulder blades, taking off portions of several vertebrae. It was Christmas day and Henry was walking to church. In pain and despair, he heard those bells ringing, and a  wave of emotion flooded over him. As those bells rang he knew that he was not alone and that there was hope and peace within him and he penned the song.

As the weeks toward Christmas advanced, I began to feel such incredible joy it was indescribable. It was by far the best Christmas I have ever had, but our circumstances had not changed, only my heart and mind and this felt like a miracle.

It was Christmas Eve, the snow was flying, and our power went out. For lack of anything else to do and with no lights, I picked up a library book  to read to my daughter by candlelight. This is what I read that Christmas Eve night.

The Ominous Dragoon Of Dothdura

  • Tis so good to be a hero or a master, when in these times there are none.
  • Tis so good to be a leader who conquers fear when no one else will.
  • You see you were such a prince in such a place. But it was not a dragon that you conquered, it was the fear that gripped the land.
  • You were one entity who exposed the fear. And all who lived in their peaceful villages truly did live in what is termed "happier ever after."
  • You see dreams - they do come true. You were such an entity and conquered fear you did!
  • You are pleased?
  • Am I not a good spinner of tales? Wondrous entity you will be one who will grow up and become a justly entity.
  • Of all the good you shall deliver to this plane, the greatest good of all, master, is that you live your truth in your life in spite of others' fears and fallacies.
  • And you will not know fear for you will learn to look fear in the eye.
  • For when you look fear in the eye, precious entity, the fear that you feel will disappear.

It was four months later that our life began to turn around. We did not lose our house and my husband's business had the best financial year it ever had. So much that my husband calls it miraculous. But I know that this was all for me. To teach me what I wanted to know. That finding peace and faith is only a thought away. That it all abides within me.

It was because of all of these events that happened that I started my blog in April 2010. This series of events caused me to do things I would never have done - start a blog, publish a cookbook, and begin teaching classes on cultured foods. When I began these things, our lives began to change. Everything that had been going in the wrong direction reversed, and doors began to open that had been formerly closed. A year later, I self published my book and nine months after that I was picked up by a major publishing company, Hay House, and my book became a bestseller. Then I went on to write two more books and from deep within me a strong desire arose to help others, which led to the life I lead now.  I'm so very thankful for the fear that changed me so dramatically, for in all of this process I discovered who I truly was. Stronger than I ever thought possible but knowing that I was being guided and loved. I could hear the bells ringing when things looked horrible, I could hear them ringing hope just for me. I tuned my heart to those bells and hung on. Never, ever give up - and believe in miracles . . . they are waiting for you.

Do you hear the bells? Open up your heart and you'll hear them. They are ringing just for you.

Merry Christmas, my sweet friends.Donna

For many years, and way before I found cultured foods, we would travel to my mom’s house in Virginia for Christmas. It was a twenty-hour car ride from my home in Kansas City and we would often drive all night to get there so the kids would sleep. We would always be exhausted…(Read More)

I’m going to introduce you to your microbiome. These trillions of microbial organisms, which normally inhabit a healthy small and large intestine, are your friends. They’ve been co-creating with humans since the beginning of time, but it is likely you know very little about them. We depend on these microbes for our…(Read More)

In 2017, we moved across the country from Kansas City to Southern California to be closer to our two older children. Our family – Ron, me and our three kids and our son-in-law – are thick as thieves. I’ve always lived far away from my mom and dad and sisters who mostly reside on…(Read More)

Sometimes I wonder how I got here. Symptoms of disease struck my life almost two decades ago and it broke me. Those symptoms shook me to my core and I didn’t know that my body was desperately trying to get my attention to help me heal. And heal I did. With a grateful heart…(Read More)

Female hormones are complex and beautifully made. But take those hormones and ignore them, and they will get your attention through symptoms of discomfort that can lead to disease and believe you me, they can wreak havoc on your life. There is no giant step that accomplishes this, just a lot of little steps that…(Read More)

Probiotics have become an exciting frontier in health and wellness. Most people only think about probiotic supplements in a bottle, but today we’re talking about foods that have probiotics in them. These probiotic foods have billions more probiotics than supplements. I think supplements are very good, but so often they are killed by stomach…(Read More)

Let me tell you about Mary. She sat on the front row of one of my classes and cried throughout my class while I talked. Right after class, she came up to me and explained how much these probiotic foods I teach about had changed her life. Sick with digestion and depression and feeling hopeless…(Read More)

Food cravings — why do you have them? We tend to think food cravings are normal and there is not much we can do about them, but there is much more to it than this. This is a time of change. A time to look at the way we function in this world and do…(Read More)

The Flu Shot in a Jar


Fall through winter is the time of year they call “flu season.” People are really afraid of it but I have often said, “The flu should be afraid of me!” When you build up the good bacteria in your body, you create an army that goes with you everywhere you go and touches every person…(Read More)

Many people wonder if probiotic pills provide the same benefit as probiotic foods since they seem to be marketed in the same way—healthy bacteria for our guts. However, probiotic foods work significantly better because of their construction. To get into the small intestine and colon, where they do the work of breaking down and…(Read More)

Sleeping is fundamental to our wellbeing and health, and I have my own experiences with sleep and health. In 2001 when my daughter Holli was born eight weeks early and weighed in at four pounds, I was a woman on a mission to help her. Babies born this early don’t get the mom’s…(Read More)

It was early 2002 and my sixteen year old daughter climbed out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen. “How do you feel this morning?” I asked. Her response broke me. “I never feel good anymore mom. I feel bad all the time. My stomach hurts after everything I eat.” What had happened to my…(Read More)

In 2001, I was battling hypertension and diabetes. It was then that I started drinking kefir and I noticed an interesting occurrence. It seemed that when I drank a glass of kefir every day my blood pressure would go down; and not just a little, but quite a bit. It would put me in the…(Read More)

When it comes to cultured/probiotic and fermented foods, I am officially obsessed. Not everyone is going to make as many of these foods as I do; but once you get started, it’s an exciting journey! Here are the top seven probiotic foods I ALWAYS have on hand, and why . . . &nbsp…(Read More)

I have had seasonal allergies since I was twelve or thirteen years old. For months in the springtime, I locked myself inside the house and turned to drugs and steroids that harmed my immune system. This seemed to be what everybody did and I did the same because I had nowhere else to look…(Read More)

One of the first things I noticed when we started drinking kefir was the help my husband received with eliminating his acid reflux. It was quite surprising to me since he popped antacids like they were candy. But fast forward sixteen years and I’ve had so many, many people tell me they’ve gotten…(Read More)

I love kombucha and not just because it tastes fantastic but because it has a special probiotic called Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii). It is an incredible probiotic and when you make kombucha you can get lots of this powerful probiotic yeast. S. boulardii is one of the most researched probiotics and has been used worldwide…(Read More)

I’ve received several emails from people who have been greatly helped by cultured foods in regards to kidney health. More and more medical research is showing great benefits to using probiotics for kidney health. New probiotic supplements have been developed to specifically treat the kidneys, and there have been remarkable results. Certain strains of…(Read More)

I’ve been eating cultured foods for almost sixteen years. I eat them most every day with very few exceptions. When I first started eating cultured foods, I had diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain, and felt discouraged and depressed. These foods were the answer to my cries for help, but never did I think…(Read More)

One of my good friends told me her cholesterol had gone up since drinking kefir, and then she said, “That’s my good cholesterol! It went through the roof and my doctor is very pleased.”  I got a few emails this week from people expressing to me that since they’ve been consuming kefir and…(Read More)

When you and I find the courage and strength to be better in any regard we help everyone around us. This goes for every area of our lives and even what we eat – and it includes our bacteria. You have trillions of hitchhikers that live in and on you, and they play a huge…(Read More)

Her name was Mary and she changed my life the day I met her. It was the very beginning of my journey with cultured foods, and I was in hiding with my newfound knowledge. People didn’t understand what I was doing, and the thought of letting food ferment on your counter for days at…(Read More)

In 2010, I had just started my blog and Facebook page, and the second person to post on my page was a man named Chris asking me How to Make Kombucha. He was a friend of my older kids and what I didn’t know at the time was Chris had just been diagnosed with…(Read More)

Kefir and Diabetes


Captain of your ship and the master of your destiny. We’re shaped by the light we let through us. I remember that day quite vividly. It was over fifteen years ago. It was February and bitter cold outside. I made myself a breakfast that I thought was healthy – high-fiber cereal and skim milk…(Read More)

  Pain is the best teacher, but nobody wants to be the student. I have met hundreds of people who are now on gluten-free diets. My daughter used to be one of them. Gluten pain can make life difficult and become a heavy load to bear. How can this grain that has been around…(Read More)

Do you want to change your life and feel better? Here’s the truth. I have tons of resources to help you. You can find everything you need on my site to get started, and that information is free. I have other resources that I sell to expand and help you grow, but everything you…(Read More)

Emotions are my best friends. They help me not only understand my present state but also how my body is doing.  Researchers are discovering that an imbalance in your gut can cause mental symptoms. They call the gut the second brain, and boy are they right. I have witnessed firsthand those with ADD, anxiety, depression…(Read More)

So, do you want to know why you have certain persistent problems with things like ringworm, toenail fungus, and athlete’s foot? All of these are caused by a fungus that can spread and grow like crazy and last for years and years. “Onychomycosis” is the medical name for the infection that causes the fungi…(Read More)

I get hundreds of emails about the subject of Candida, and a lot of them are asking me why so many health care practitioners don’t recommend the consumption of fermented foods if you have Candida. Most physicians and well-meaning practitioners only know of fermented foods made with vinegars rather than the cultured or…(Read More)

My husband was the last one in my family to try cultured foods. I experimented on my children first. My kids were sick and I wanted them to be well, so we all ate cultured food; and much to my surprise, everybody got better. Then as the cultured foods began to take over my kitchen…(Read More)

I believe in miracles and I believe that they live inside you and me. Do you believe that healing requires a miracle, or do you believe that our trillions of cells govern themselves and create the bodies that we have?  So how does the eye know how to focus or the muscle know how much…(Read More)

Years ago when I was young and raising my kids, I was often influenced by well-meaning friends and family. They scared me to death with the latest news they had heard and would say, “Don’t eat this and don’t let your kids do this and did you read that story about how…(Read More)

Pain touches everyone in some way; and when this happens, all of us reach for something that we believe will help us. The older I get, the more I find that every ounce of pain is here to teach me something. When I learn the lesson, the pain will vanish and I will have gained…(Read More)

Christmas Morning

Food For My Microbes

We love traditions in our family. Every Christmas my mom always made a Christmas braid which was a giant concoction of cinnamon, nuts, and bread topped with a creamy frosting. I kind of changed the recipe with my family and made it from sprouted grains, and this year I decided to break with tradition and make something new. My two older kids have moved to California, and we are also in the process of moving there, but I miss them something awful this Christmas so I had to make something new to ease my pain. I may not have my whole family under my roof this Christmas, but I do still have my microbes and they're 100 trillion in numbers, so I decided to focus on feeding them since they're kind of like my children, too.

So what do my personal microbes like to eat? Prebiotics, which are mostly fiber. My microbes love them, and they add virtually no calories; but my microbes take this fiber, digest it, and make more microbes in my body that grow by leaps and bounds. Overall it is the best way to stay healthy by feeding those microbes. The bacteria living inside are essential to your immune system. Your gut is host to thousands of bacteria species in a complex ecosystem. It's like a vast rainforest thriving and organizing every day of your life, and yes doing it's thing on Christmas morning- regardless of the day.

Foods that microbes love

Here are some of the foods microbes love and the first one is oats! A substance in the oats, known as beta glucan, helps these microbes to grow and multiply.1 One study was done on whole grains, and included oats, that followed more than 100,000 people who were questioned on what they ate each day. The researchers saw that every one-ounce serving of whole grains (oats or porridge) reduced a person's overall risk of an early death by 5 percent, and their risk of death from heart disease by 9 percent. Published online Jan. 5, 2015, in JAMA Internal Medicine, they stated, "We saw clear evidence that the more whole grain intake, the lower the mortality rate is," said Dr. Qi Sun, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. "When we looked at risk of death from heart disease, there was an even stronger association."  

The FDA for many years has allowed a health claim for oats products stating: "There is scientific agreement soluble fiber from oat products when added to a low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol diet may help reduce the risk of heart disease." Oats will feed your microbes and make them grow so they can help you with a myriad of health benefits.

Microbes eat cholesterol

Feed those microbes because they're the ones that can break down these soluble fibers and use them to create more microbes that prevent disease. Did you know that certain microbes eat cholesterol, thereby lowering it throughout the body? Good bacteria consume (soluble) fiber in the small intestines and create acids, one of which is called proprionic acid. This particular acid reduces production of cholesterol by the liver. Another way good microbes bring down cholesterol levels is that as bacteria grow in the intestinal tract, they consume some of the cholesterol that is present, incorporating it into their own cells. This means the cholesterol becomes unavailable for absorption from the intestine into the bloodstream, naturally lowering total cholesterol. 

Pumpkin and pecans

Pumpkin has insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is what microbes love while insoluble is great at adding bulk to the stool and helping food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines. Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium which helps reduce risk of stroke, preservation of bone mineral density, and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.

Pecans are another wonderful fiber food for your microbes.  Pecans contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats like oleic acid.2 One study, published in the August 2006 issue of Nutrition Research, found that pecans may help prevent coronary heart disease by inhibiting unwanted oxidation of blood lipids.3 Another study done at Loma Linda University (LLU) and issued in the January 2011 issue of The Journal of Nutrition found many similar results.

Kefir has the microbes you need

Kefir doesn't feed your microbes, it is the microbes that will inhabit you. Eating prebiotic foods and topping it with my yummy kefir topping is the perfect breakfast for your inner world of vast and varied microbes. It's fun, delicious, and your house smells like Christmas, while your microbes have a party all their own keeping you well each and every day! It's important to feed your microbes — even on Christmas Day. God Bless them, everyone.

candy-cane-icon copyHere are some new breakfast recipes! So so good

Pumpkin Kefir Oatmeal

Baked Sourdough French Toast

Trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected, and that can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. Fermentation is an art form and each individual cultured food is, in and of itself, unique. The three foods of The Trilogy each provide different good bacteria and…(Read More)

One day my daughter Holli came running into the room and burst into tears. She cried and said, “Help me! My stomach hurts so bad.” And then she ran to the bathroom and started throwing up. She had spent the night with a friend who had just had the same thing, so I’m pretty…(Read More)

Here are just a few of my favorite prebiotic foods and supplements. Acacia, often called acacia gum, contains 86% prebiotic content. It is used as a food stabilizer and has a substantial amount of fiber and is essential for strengthening the population of good bacteria in your gut. One place to find this prebiotic is…(Read More)

It astonishes me that everybody doesn’t know about Cultured Veggies – they are such powerful little scrub brushes for the colon and deliver such powerful anti-virus abilities. Over and over again I have seen these veggies knock out colds and flu and even work magic on food poisoning. The thing that most surprised me…(Read More)

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I felt off, kind of loopy in the head and couldn’t think straight, and not myself. I was tired and wanting to rest a lot and didn’t want to exercise. This was not like me, and it scared me. Then I got a…(Read More)

My husband was called for jury duty this week and found himself in jury selection for a case involving a very popular restaurant. The complainant was a woman who said she got carpal tunnel syndrome on the job, was treated, and then six months later was fired. My husband was picked as Juror Number Two…(Read More)

Your body’s ability to heal is greater than anyone has permitted you to believe. My husband is used to my crazy new ideas and has become accustomed to my enthusiasm for whatever happens to be my latest discovery. He goes along for the ride but never jumps in with both feet until coaxed. Kombucha…(Read More)

This last month my husband and I had our 30th wedding anniversary. Ron and I and our three kids are a tribe and we’ve always done everything together. This was the first vacation we have had alone since our honeymoon which we spent on a houseboat in Lake Powell, Utah. So it seemed only…(Read More)

My family has a history of high blood pressure. I struggled with high blood pressure on and off for years and was told to just expect to take medication for it. This made me fighting mad, and I didn’t want to accept it as predetermined destiny that I had no choice over. I wanted…(Read More)

Have you heard of the fermented probiotic drink called Rejuvelac? The first time I heard of it I was just beginning with all things fermented and this drink intrigued me. I was fermenting so many things and I wanted to try this drink that so many raved about. What is Rejuvelac? A drink made from…(Read More)

Having babies is a big event. For me it was life threatening and life changing. My third pregnancy was actually the catalyst for this blog, my website, and my books. My pregnancy was a scary event – things quickly went from bad to worse and they delivered my baby 7.5 weeks early to save my…(Read More)

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