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Most people know that fermented foods build great gut health, but a growing body of research shows they also build strong immunity, brain health, heart health and more. As a result, there are more reasons than ever to eat more fermented foods. Check out my blogs 9 Reasons to Love Sauerkraut and The Surprising Foods that Alleviate Anxiety to discover several reasons.
But, if you’re like many people you may not know how to get more fermented foods into your diet, outside of yogurt with fruit or sauerkraut on your favorite hot dog.
Here are 25 of my favorite ways to get more fermented foods into your diet:
Using Yogurt or Kefir
1. Smoothies: Blend some yogurt or kefir (a fermented dairy or fruit juice beverage) with a handful or two of fruit for a delicious smoothie.
2. Frozen Yogurt: After making a fruit smoothie, pour it into popsicle molds for a frozen yogurt treat.
3. Yogurt Cheese: Pour yogurt into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and let it sit for at least a few hours for a soft yogurt cheese—simply add your favorite herbs for an unbeatable fresh cheese. Like all of the yogurt-based suggestions, these approaches work for vegan yogurt as well.
4. Yogurt Salad Dressing: Blend some yogurt with lemon juice or vinegar and some herbs and sea salt for a creamy salad dressing.
5. Save Yogurt to Make More: Save a few tablespoons of yogurt or the whey from yogurt-making as the starter culture to make even more.
6. Breakfast Cereal: Add a dollop or two of yogurt or kefir to your favorite breakfast cereal or oatmeal in place of milk.
Using Sauerkraut, Pickled Vegetables or Kimchi
7. Over Brown Rice or Quinoa for a Quick Meal: Simply adding sauerkraut or other fermented vegetable dish to cooked grains (after the grains have cooked) makes a quick, nutritious and delicious meal. Check out my blog “Make Your Own Probiotic-Rich Sauerkraut.”
8. Over Salad: I threw some sauerkraut on top of a homemade Caesar salad and it was delicious. You can add fermented veggies to almost any salad for a quick probiotic boost.
9. On Noodles: Tossing brown rice or other whole grain noodles with kimchi or pickled veggies makes mealtime a cinch.
10. Sandwiches: Adding pickled turnip, fermented onions, kimchi or sauerkraut to your favorite sandwich gives it a flavor and nutritional boost.
11. and 12. On Burgers and Hot Dogs: This one is fairly self-explanatory.
13. Lettuce Cups: Place freshly-grated vegetables, bean sprouts and fermented veggies or kimchi in a large leaf of lettuce and wrap it up for a simple snack or meal.
14. Salad Rolls: Soak rice paper wraps in hot water, pat dry and wrap them up with fermented and fresh veggies and kimchi.
15. Tacos: Top your favorite tacos with fermented vegetables like carrots or onions for a flavor boost.
16. Salad Dressing: Blend sauerkraut or kimchi with some two parts oil and one part vinegar for a quick and easy salad dressing.
17. Condiments: Add pickled vegetables or kimchi as a condiment to almost any meal.
18. Guacamole: I mix an El Salvadoran fermented salsa known as Curtido with mashed avocado for a simple and amazingly delicious guacamole in minutes.
19. Salsa and Chips: Mix fresh salsa ingredients: chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, lemon juice and minced chilies with the contents of one probiotic capsule and let sit for at least a few hours but preferably overnight. Then serve your fermented salsa with chips for a great snack.
20. Hummus: Blend sauerkraut (or sauerkraut juice) and chickpeas with a little extra virgin olive oil for a quick and probiotic-rich hummus. The sauerkraut and sauerkraut juice adds flavor and replaces salt in this recipe.
Using Other Fermented Foods
21. Fermented Juice: Empty the contents of a probiotic capsule into your favorite fruit or vegetable juice, cover and leave at room temperature overnight or for a day. Not only will you get the probiotics found in the capsule, but the beneficial microbes will proliferate and actually reduce the amount of natural sugars present in the juice.
22. Choose Kombucha over Soda: Skip the sugar-laden soft drink and instead enjoy a naturally-sparkling kombucha (a probiotic-rich beverage).
23. Cultured Cream: Soak raw, unsalted nuts like cashews, pine nuts or macadamias in enough water to cover and the contents of one probiotic capsule. Let sit for eight hours or overnight. Blend. Use over fruit in place of cream. Use only as much of the soak water as needed for a thick vegan sour cream.
24. Vegan Cheese: Follow the instructions under 23 but use only enough water to cover the nuts and allow them to ferment with the probiotic powder for at least 24 hours or longer for a sharper cheese flavor. Blend until smooth and creamy for a quick and probiotic-rich soft cheese.
25. Vegan Pudding or Cheesecake: Follow the instructions for vegan cheese but add some fruit and sweetener (if you wish), along with a couple tablespoons of a thickening agent like ground chia or flax seeds. For a cheesecake, crumble some graham crackers or cookies with a small amount of coconut oil and press into a small cheesecake mold. Pour the fruit-cashew mixture over the crust. Refrigerate until firm, et voila! Enjoy a simple, raw, probiotic-rich pudding or cheesecake.
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A central player in the fight against the novel coronavirus is our immune system. It protects us against the invader and can even be helpful for its therapy. But sometimes it can turn against us.
How does our immune system react to the coronavirus?<p>The coronavirus is — like any other virus — not much more than a shell around genetic material and a few proteins. To replicate, it needs a host in the form of a living cell. Once infected, this cell does what the virus commands it to do: copy information, assemble it, release it.</p><p>But this does not go unnoticed. Within a few minutes, the body's immune defense system intervenes with its innate response: Granulocytes, scavenger cells and killer cells from the blood and lymphatic system stream in to fight the virus. They are supported by numerous plasma proteins that either act as messengers or help to destroy the virus.</p><p>For many viruses and bacteria, this initial activity of the immune system is already sufficient to fight an intruder. It often happens very quickly and efficiently. We often notice only small signs that the system is working: We have a cold, a fever. </p>
Is there an immunity? How long does it last?<p>The good news is that it is very likely there is an immunity. This is suggested by the proximity to other viruses, epidemiological data and animal experiments. Researchers <a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.13.990226v1" target="_blank">infected four rhesus monkeys,</a> a species close to humans, with SARS-CoV-2. The monkeys showed symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, developed neutralizing antibodies and recovered after a few days. When the recovered animals were reinfected with the virus, they no longer developed any symptoms: They were immune. </p><p>The bad news: It is not (yet) known how long the immunity will last. It depends on whether a patient has successfully developed neutralizing antibodies. Achim Hörauf estimates that the immunity should last at least one year. Within this year, every new contact with the virus acts as a kind of booster vaccination, which in turn might prolong the immunity.</p><p>"The virus is so new that nobody has a reasonable immune response," says the immunologist. He believes that lifelong immunity is unlikely. This "privilege" is reserved for viruses that remain in the body for a long time and give our immune system a virtually permanent opportunity to get to know it. Since the coronavirus is an RNA (and not a DNA) virus, it cannot permanently settle in the body, says Hörauf.</p><p>The Heidelberg immunologist <a href="https://www.klinikum.uni-heidelberg.de/immunologie/immunologie" target="_blank">Stefan Meuer</a> predicts that the novel coronavirus will also mutate like all viruses. He assumes that this could be the case in 10 to 15 years: "At some point, the acquired immunity will no longer be of any use to us because then another coronavirus will return, against which the protection that has now been formed will not help us because the virus has changed in such a way that the antibodies are no longer responsible. And then no vaccination will help either."</p>
How can we take advantage of the antibody response of the immune system?<p>Researchers are already collecting plasma from people who have successfully survived an infection with SARS-CoV-2 and are using it to treat a limited number of patients suffering from COVID-19. The underlying principle: <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-drugs-can-antibodies-from-survivors-help/a-52806428" target="_blank">passive immunization.</a> The studies carried out to date have shown positive results, but they have usually been carried out on only a few people.</p><p>At best, passive immunization is used only when the patient's own immune system has already started to work against the virus, says Achim Hörauf: "The longer you can leave the patients alone with the infection before you protect them with passive immunization, the better." Only through active immunization can one be protected in the long term. At the same time, it is difficult to recognize the right point in time.</p><p>PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are currently used to find out whether a person is infected with the coronavirus. With the help of PCR, it is not possible to tell whether or not there is reproducible viral RNA; it is just a proof of whether the virus is still present, dead or alive. A PCR test cannot tell us whether our immune system has already intervened, i.e. whether we have had contact with the virus in the past, have formed antibodies and are now protected. Researchers are therefore working on tests that check our blood for the presence of antibodies. They are already in use in Singapore, for example, and are nearing completion in the USA. With the help of these tests, it would finally be possible to gain an overview <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/corona-confusion-how-to-make-sense-of-the-numbers-and-terminology/a-52825433" target="_blank">of the unclear case numbers.</a> In addition, people who have developed antibodies against the virus could be used at the forefront of health care, for example. An "immunity passport" is even under discussion.</p>
Is it possible to become infected and/or ill several times with the coronavirus?<p>"According to all we know, it is not possible with the same pathogen," says Achim Hörauf. It is possible to become infected with other coronaviruses or viruses from the SARS or MERS group if their spike proteins look different. "As far as the current epidemic is concerned, it can be assumed that people who have been through COVID-19 will not become ill from it for the time being and will not transmit the virus any further," he says.</p>
How long before you're no longer contagious?<p>A study <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2196-x" target="_blank">carried out on the first coronavirus patients in Germany</a> showed that no viruses that are capable of replication can be found from day eight after the onset of symptoms, even though PCR can still detect up to 100,000 gene copies per sample. This could change the current quarantine recommendations in the future.</p><p>According to the Robert Koch Institute, patients can currently be discharged from hospital if they show two negative PCR samples from the throat within 24 hours. If they have had a severe case of the disease, they should remain in domestic isolation for another two weeks. For each discharge, whether from hospital or home isolation, they should have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.</p>
Why do people react differently to the virus?<p>While some people get off with a mild cold, others are put on ventilators or even die of SARS-Cov-2. Especially people with <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-who-is-particularly-at-risk-and-why/a-52710881" target="_blank">pre-existing conditions</a> and older people seem to be worst-affected by the virus. Why? This is the hottest question at the moment.</p><p>It will still take a very, very long time to understand the mechanistic, biological basis for why some people are so much more severely affected than others, virologist Angela Rasmussen told <em>The Scientist</em>. "The virus is important, but the host response is at least as important, if not more important," her colleague Stanley Perlman told the magazine.</p><p>Stefan Meuer sees a fundamental survival principle of nature in the different equipment and activity of our immune systems: "If we were all the same, one and the same virus could wipe out the entire human species at once. Due to the genetic range, it is quite normal that some people die from a viral disease while others do not even notice it. "</p><p>Achim Hörauf also suspects immunological variants that could be genetically determined. Since interstitial pneumonia is observed with the coronavirus, the focus is probably on an overreaction of the immune system. However, it is also possible that each person affected may have been loaded with a different dose of the virus, which in turn leads to different outcomes. And finally, it makes a difference how robust the body and lungs are: Competitive athletes simply have more lung volume than long-time smokers. </p>
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