The Gut Microbiome is an ecosystem of bacteria living in our digestive system that plays important roles in supporting and regulating every other system in our body! Click on the link above to read all about it.

Simply put, we would not be able to live without these bacteria. While a healthy, diverse diet of organic food is usually enough to keep these bacteria healthy and reproducing, it is good to supplement them regularly as there are occasions, such as when we get sick, that these bacteria die in order to help fight off the disease. In COVID patients as well as in other sicknesses, severe symptoms quickly manifest when the gut bacteria drop below acceptable levels.

The easiest way to boost your bacteria levels is by consuming probiotic food. These are living cultures that are teeming with good bacteria. Some popular and commercially available probiotics are Yakult and Yoghurts. However these are also full of sugar and other processed ingredients, making them less than ideal. The best probiotic foods are those with fresh, live cultures! In this article we will learn how to make two of these at home.

Yoghurt

It seems that people have been culturing yoghurt for as long as we have been drinking milk. The theory is that it was discovered by accident, when some milk was left out too long.

Natural yoghurt is free of flavoring, color and sugar. In fact it is made out of only two ingredients: Fresh milk and Bacterial culture. Yoghurt is full of calcium, good fats, proteins and of course good bacteria! Yoghurt contains at least Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. However due to the many cultures, traditions and methods in making it, Yoghurt can contain up to 20 different types of bacteria, inlcuding Bifidobacetera and Saccharomyces. Try obtaining yoghurt from as many natural sources as you can, adding a bit to your main culture as you go to create your own unique, supercharged culture!

Some of the bacteria in Yoghurt include:

  • Bifidobacterium animalis (sometimes also known as Bifidus regularis)
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus delbrueckii
  • Lactobacillus johnsonii
  • Saccharomyces boulardii

To make yoghurt you need to find a source of good organic fresh cow or carabao milk, and bacterial culture. I have had success using Arla Organic milk boxes when I cannot source locally. As for the culture, you need to find the most plain yoghurt you can. If you can find a local producer that would be best, but in the absence of this, you can use commercial yoghurt as a starter, as long as it is free of flavoring and colors.

To make the yoghurt, simply need to add about 1 part yoghurt to 2-4 parts milk. You need to make sure that they are at room temperature for the initial fermentation. Place them in a covered container and leave it for about 12 hours. Check the texture. The milk should have thickened slightly and should have a slightly sour/sweet smell. If you are beginning to see separation of curds(solids) and whey (liquids) it is ready. Refrigerate to slow the fermentation and enjoy. Make sure to always leave a little bit for your next batch.

Water Kefir

Water Kefir is a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) that was first found feeding on the sugar in cactuses in the middle east. Soon human beings learned that by feeding this bacteria sugar water, they were rewarded with a fizzy, sweet drink that improved their health. The cultures were spread around the world by travellers and are readily available today. The finished product is rich in up to 56 types of good bacterial species, as well as Yeasts. The fermentation created by these live organisms create a nutrient rich liquid.

Some of the bacteria in Kefir include:

  • Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus
  • Lactobacillus helveticus
  • Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens subsp. kefiranofaciens
  • Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens subsp. kefirgranum
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis
  • Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris
  • Streptococcus thermophilus
  • Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris
  • Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides

Like Yoghurt, only two ingredients are needed: Sugar water and the culture itself. Once you obtain the SCOBY, you will see the “grains” little clumps of transparent bacteria at the bottom of the jar. To feed them, estimate the amount of culture and feed an equivalent amount of sugar. Muscobado is the best as it also includes minerals that the bacteria needs. If you use white or brown sugar you will have to supplement with .5tsp molasses every week. Add 5-10 parts water to this mixture. Taste it so you have a point of reference as well. Cover the mixture and leave it for about 24 hours. When you check on the culture the water color should be lighter (when using muscobado especially) and the sweetness should have decreased. If it is still sweet , you can leave it until the sweetness is all gone. If you allow it to ferment long enough, the sugar content will actually drop below 1g, per 100g making this a suitable probiotic for diabetics.

If the water has lost most, or all of it’s sweetness, that means the bacteria has done it’s job! They have transformed the sugar into bacterial mass and vitamins. You can drink this straight or mixed with fresh, natural fruit juice. Make sure to leave the grains in the jar where you culture and feed them with more sugar water straightaway!

Nutritional Content

Aside from the benefits to gut bacteria, Kefir and Yoghurt also provide nutritional value:

Yoghurt

Both provide a modest amount of Vitamins and Minerals. Calcium is found in high levels in both fermentations however.

Calcium is needed for the cells of your immune system to communicate to one another, making it highly important for regulation of immune response.

COVID Resistance: Calcium is needed for your cells to notify one another of infection, so that they can react in a specific way and eliminate the virus. Proper cell communication is also needed to reduce inflammation which leads to severe symptoms.

Healthy gut bacteria is also needed for proper immune function and deficiency in gut bacteria is a common denominator in those who have died from the COVID virus.

Some Important Points

Here is some general information you should keep in mind while caring for your cultures:

  • Make sure to use clean jars and tools and keep your cultures clean and covered .(no need to be airtight unless you are trying to create carbonation). This ensures that your culture stays pure and ferments, rather than rots. The wrong kind of bacteria can really throw your cultures out of balance (especially in milk). This also means that you should never take a sip straight out of your culture!
  • Over fermentation is not good for your cultures. Even if you keep feeding them, the environment becomes less than ideal for them over time. Make sure to provide them with a full batch of fresh medium at least once every 3 days.
  • If you must leave them for extended periods, refrigerate them. Bacterial activity is slower in cold temperatures so this allows them to conserve their food better. For Water Kefir, feed the culture a fresh batch of water before storage. For yoghurt, allow the batch to finish fermenting before storing it away. Most healthy cultures will be able to survive this way for a week, and restart without any problems after.
  • Keep Backups! Sometimes cultures die. It can be a bad batch of millk, or something new you experimented with like a different brand of sugar. Make sure to keep at least 2 separate jars going to be sure. Even better, share and get your friends to make their own cultures. They will be happy to help you out if you lose your own.

The Next Step

Once you have gotten comfortable with the basic care of these cultures you can use them to create some amazing concoctions. Yoghurt cultures can be used to create white cheese, and water kefir can undergo second and even third fermentations that can create healthy fruit sodas. Read more about these here.

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