Your Guts At War
When I’m explaining intestinal health to my 7-year-olds, I tell them their guts have a war raging inside their tummies. It’s the good guys vs. the bad guys. The good guys (helpful bacteria) are the ones keeping you healthy, strong and free from disease. The bad guys (harmful bacteria) will take every opportunity to outnumber the good guys and make you sick, fatigued, and at risk of disease. Next time you want to eat that candy bar or down that bag of Cheetos, remember that every bite of processed food (and especially sugar) is like giving ammunition to the bad guys. On the contrary, when you drink that green juice full of phytonutrients and minerals, you’re fuelling the good guys!
Fighting Cancer Before It Starts
With so many digestive diseases and cancer on the rise, I truly believe that it’s largely in part to our western diets wreaking havoc on our gut flora. We’re seeing research that suggests up to 80% of our immunity is found in our gut flora and one recent study even claims the key factor behind cancer appears to be ecological (in your gut) rather than genetic (in your genes).1
Published by the University of North Carolina, the study suggests cancer may be due to a chain reaction all beginning with inflammation which disrupts the gut ecosystems and allows pathogens to take over, causing damage at a cellular level. Did you step on the scale after a weekend of processed junk food and were horrified that you gained a ridiculous eight pounds? Don’t be fooled into thinking you actually put on eight pounds of fat in one weekend — almost all of that is inflammation at a cellular level. Every cell in your body is swollen and trying to respond to the stress you introduced with all that junk food! That’s why come Wednesday, you step on the scale and your weight is back to normal.
It’s no secret that the refined carbs, sugary junk food, genetically-modified oils, and meat sourced from poorly-treated animals are all leading to a mutiny in our own stomachs. But don’t think that eating clean is all about getting skinny! As I always say, a lot of skinny people still die of cancer. My motivation in eating clean may have started out as a way to get thin but it quickly became a way to live a long life full of energy and great health! Simply surviving life, while putting up with digestive disorders, skin conditions, chronic fatigue or any other condition which people seem to tolerate as their “fate in life”, is not good enough for me. I want to thrive in life!
Being a victim to poor health is simply surviving, not thriving.
I’ve already talked about why SCD is the diet for anyone with digestive disorders — I have seen it save colons (literally) and change lives. But the premise of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is applicable to all of us: starve out the bad bacteria and fuel the good. By following a gut-friendly diet (no refined grains, refined sugars, processed food, etc.), you starve out the bad bacteria. By adding your own homemade yogurt, you do a double-whammy and fuel the good ones. Even if you don’t suffer from a digestive disorder, it’s still crucial that your gut flora is healthy and strong. The good cultures in your gut are fighting carcinogenic cells (that’s cancer!), disease pathogens (think flus, colds, E.coli, etc), and even chronic conditions like eczema.
How Homemade Yogurt is VERY Different From Store-Bought
We all know that making things from scratch is better than buying commercially-made products. Not only do you control the quality and type of ingredients, you also avoid the stabilizers, preservatives, and thickening agents that keep products shelf-stable. When it comes to yogurt though, there is even more reason to make your own. Commercial yogurts, even the best of the best, are fermented for the shortest amount of time possible (time is money, remember!). The quicker a manufacturer can turn over the batches, the more money they will make. As a result, this means the fermenting process in commercial yogurts is around 8 hours; far too short of a time to capture yogurt’s amazing health benefits.
When fermented for 20 hours or more, the yogurt’s good bacteria multiplies by the billions. In addition, the bacteria feeds on every last bit of lactose in the milk, making the yogurt completely lactose-free and possible for dairy-intolerant people to digest easily.
N.B.: If you are highly sensitive to dairy, homemade yogurt should be okay for you but be aware that you may need to ease your system into it. It’s recommended that people with highly-sensitive lactose intolerance start with 1 tbsp of the yogurt and then build up from there each day.
You can send reinforcements to the good guys by having a serving of homemade yogurt each day. No expensive probiotics that have been shipped from who-knows-where and for who-knows-how-long. You get full control over the quality of your ingredients (I use organic milk, raw when possible) and opt for a 50/50 split between whole fat and 2% milk.
Domestica’s Tangy Yogurt
3 cups organic, grass-fed whole milk
3 cups organic, grass-fed 2% milk
STARTER: 1/2 cup organic yogurt from the store OR the Yogourmet Starter
Heat milk in a saucepan. Using a candy or meat thermometer, remove from heat when it hits 185˚ to 200˚ F. This process kills all the bacteria cultures in the milk so the good bacterias in your starter can do their job. Skip it and you will most likely end up with runny soup instead of yogurt! You’ve been warned.
Once milk has cooled to room temp, mix in the starter (either high quality store-bought yogurt or a packet of freeze-dried culture) and whisk together. Place mixture in yogurt maker and let ferment for at least 20 hours.
A Few Tips
- You can use any type of milk you want but I opt for a 50-50 split between full-fat and 2% milk — this gives me a nice thick yogurt in the end. If you go with a nonfat milk, you will have runnier yogurt. And why are you eating nonfat milk anyway?! Shame on you. You know what I think about that.
- I use the EuroCuisine yogurt maker and swapped out the small jars for a Pyrex bowl that fits inside and although looks a bit wonky, it works just fine (see photo). But my friends and family use the Yogourmet, which allows you to have large batches without getting freaky, and they all love it.
- The longer you ferment, the more tangy (or European!) the yogurt will taste.
- Temperature and humidity can play a part in yogurt not setting well. I’ve never had a problem here in Northern California but if your home is too cold or too humid, I’ve heard it can mess with the culture setting the yogurt.
Even if you’re fortunate enough to not have a digestive disorder, you will greatly benefit from the billions of active cultures in homemade yogurt which help keep your gut healthy! Plus, one serving of this goodness nets you 30% of your daily calcium intake. Eating clean is the best thing you can do for your health but getting a dose of these good “bugs” each day will also bolster your immunity, starve out carcinogenic cells, and improve your cellular function (thereby decreasing your chances of inflammation-related diseases like arthritis). Everything starts in the gut! Take better care of yours!