How to make kim­chi... the easy way

NU­TRI­ENT-PACKED AND GREAT FOR YOUR GUT, THIS KOREAN STA­PLE CAN EVEN HELP YOUR MOOD, SAYS KYLIE BAI­LEY

Good Health Choices - - Contents -

good qual­ity, or­ganic kim­chi is the def­i­ni­tion of a mouth party

In Korea there are more than 100 types of kim­chi

Spicy, salty, sour and crunchy, kim­chi is a feisty, fiery fer­ment of bold bras­si­cas, such as wom­bok (Chi­nese cab­bage) and choy sum (Chi­nese leafy green), com­bined with daikon radish, gochugaru (Korean chilli pow­der), gar­lic and gin­ger.

One of Korea’s most well-known na­tional dishes, its his­tory dates back to the 12th cen­tury when Kore­ans de­vel­oped a sys­tem of salt­ing and fer­ment­ing veg­eta­bles to pre­serve them for winter. Ev­ery au­tumn, fam­i­lies would gather to do a kim­jang – a com­mu­nal kim­chi prepa­ra­tion rit­ual.

While the kim­chi that’s avail­able in our health food stores and su­per­mar­ket re­frig­er­a­tors is gen­er­ally made with a base of cab­bage, in Korea, there are more than 100 dif­fer­ent types of kim­chi, cre­ated with in­gre­di­ents that vary both re­gion­ally and sea­son­ally.

For ex­am­ple, pa-kim­chi (made with green onions) is eaten in the spring, oi sobagi (cu­cum­ber) in the sum­mer, wom­bok in the au­tumn and dongchimi (radish wa­ter kim­chi) in the winter.

Good-qual­ity, raw, or­ganic kim­chi is touted as the per­fect side dish for any meal of Asian ori­gin. Be­sides the fact it is the def­i­ni­tion of a mouth party, there’s an­other far more vi­tal rea­son to add a few ta­ble­spoons of this fer­mented pickle to your plate.

Raw power

Since the be­gin­ning of time, tra­di­tional cul­tures have in­cluded raw, un­pas­teurised fer­mented foods in their di­ets be­cause of their pow­er­ful medic­i­nal prop­er­ties. The fer­men­ta­tion process in­creases the bioavail­abil­ity of the nu­tri­ents, mak­ing it eas­ier for the body to ab­sorb so that fer­mented foods are more nu­tri­ent-dense than their raw veg­etable equiv­a­lents. In ad­di­tion raw, nat­u­rally fer­mented kim­chi con­tains lac­tic acid and liv­ing pro­bi­otic micro­organ­isms, such as ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria.

Re­search has shown that eat­ing plenty of fer­mented foods is a way to con­tin­u­ally as­sist in re­pop­u­lat­ing your gas­troin­testi­nal (GI) tract with friendly bac­te­ria. Hav­ing enough of th­ese bac­te­ria in the body is so im­por­tant be­cause the GI tract is home to the largest part of our im­mune sys­tem. It plays a key role in ward­ing off for­eign in­vaders by help­ing with the pro­duc­tion of acids and the in­tro­duc­tion of ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria. Both of th­ese act as an in­ter­nal de­fence sys­tem to pro­tect against the pathogens that find their way in­side the body.

By choos­ing to reg­u­larly eat nat­u­ral liv­ing foods, such as kim­chi, we do our bit to nur­ture the health of the micro­organ­isms present in our GI tract.

Re­cent es­ti­mates sug­gest we have 30 tril­lion micro­organ­isms liv­ing in our gut and re­searchers are now dis­cov­er­ing that the health of the mi­cro­biome may be one of the most im­por­tant fac­tors in dis­ease preven­tion. Es­pe­cially be­cause we have the power to in­flu­ence it through the foods that we eat, the en­vi­ron­ments we live in and the way we move our bod­ies.

While it used to be con­sid­ered that DNA was the most im­por­tant fac­tor in dis­ease devel­op­ment, new sci­ence has proved that while genes do play a role, their ac­tual ex­pres­sion is de­pen­dent in large part by which mi­crobes are present.

That’s why in­tro­duc­ing fer­mented foods to your diet is such a game-changer be­cause they very quickly cre­ate pos­i­tive mo­men­tum for your mi­cro­biome.

Studies have shown eat­ing fer­mented foods such as kim­chi can ef­fec­tively re­duce symp­toms of anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion, which is in­creas­ingly be­ing viewed as a symp­tom of poor gut health.

The way fer­mented foods in­flu­ence mood is be­cause they di­rectly ac­ti­vate the neu­ral path­way from the gut to the brain.

This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to as­sist in the pro­duc­tion of ben­e­fi­cial neu­ro­chem­i­cals, es­pe­cially when you con­sider that 90 per cent of a neu­ro­chem­i­cal such as sero­tonin, which reg­u­lates mood, is pro­duced in the GI tract.

It’s why in one re­cent study re­searchers found that fer­mented foods and drinks helped curb so­cial anx­i­ety dis­or­der in young adults.

Well­ness war­rior

Along with the ben­e­fi­cial micro­organ­isms that come from the fer­men­ta­tion process, kim­chi is also full of health ben­e­fits be­cause of its base in­gre­di­ents.

Chi­nese cab­bage and leafy greens be­long to the bras­sica fam­ily and are known as cru­cif­er­ous veg­eta­bles (along with broc­coli, cau­li­flower and more). Th­ese veg­eta­bles are known for their dis­ease-fight­ing prop­er­ties be­cause they are rich in sul­foraphane, a sul­fur com­pound which sci­en­tific re­search in­di­cates may re­duce the sever­ity of many chronic ill­nesses, im­prove blood pres­sure and kid­ney func­tion and sta­bilise blood sugar lev­els.

Need any more rea­son to pop a jar of kim­chi in your bas­ket when you next shop?

Fer­mented food such as kim­chi can re­duce symp­toms of anx­i­ety

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