Sprouting, Activating, Fermenting, what's the big deal?
From sprouting, activating to fermenting, I chat with Jayta Szpitalak, Nutritional Health Coach, trained Pyschologist and founder of Fermentanicals (who are rocking the functional foods industry) to better understand these processes and how they can benefit your health. I love using sprouted and fermented superfoods to increase their nutritional benefits and also improve their digestibility (making them more bioavailable). I particularly love using their sprouted chia seeds in my chia porridge and puddings, sprouted buckwheat flour in my sugar free banana bread and sprouted quinoa in my quinoa fried rice (recipe in me e-book) and I'm super excited to learn more about using black garlic!
We hear a lot about sprouting, activating and fermenting. Jayta, can you please explain what these all actually mean and why they might be beneficial?
Fermenting is a metabolic process where you convert starches or sugars into alcohol or organic acids through an anaerobic process. Put simply, it’s when certain microorganisms, like bacteria, partially digest food before we even eat them. Fermenting is an ancient technique used to preserve foods. Fermented foods are also an excellent source of probiotics, which are great for our digestive systems and general health, fermenting your foods essentially help with bioavailability and digestion. You can ferment foods by adding a starter culture, salts, or sugars, to the foods you’d like to preserve.
Activating essentially means soaking in salted water, draining, and dehydrating at very low temperatures. This helps to shed harsh outer acids that prevent optimal digestion.
Sprouting, however, takes activation further as it begins the germination process and essentially refers to seeds that have started grow. This not only sheds the harsh digestive barriers such as phytic acid, it enhances the nutritional composition of the seeds amplifying the vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, and protein count found in the same foods. Take sprouted chia and sprouted flax for example. These two ingredients are difficult to sprout, however doing so unlocks the seeds ‘super’ potential. Sprouted Chia contains triple the vitamins and minerals to non-sprouted chia. Flax doesn’t have the same reputation that Chia does, however it is just as super of a seed. The problem with flax (or linseeds) is that it has a high-fat content, and so the seeds or the oil go rancid quickly. Additionally, flax is coated with high amounts of phytic acid, making it incredibly difficult to digest. Therefore, we are trained to think we should mill or grind it before we consume it – however, grinding the seed does not eliminate the exterior acids. This is why sprouting is so magical. Not only does sprouting remove the outer acids, it also doubles the antioxidants found in the flax, therefore protecting the high lipid count from going rancid, increasing the shelf life and allowing you to absorb more of the amazing Omega’s.
As a nutritionist and naturopath, like yourself I believe in nourishing our body with the most nutrient-dense foods we can. What’s one health tip you can share with us to help us maximise the nutrition from the food we eat?
There are so many ways to amplify the nutrients you can take from the foods you eat, it’s all about arming yourself with knowledge. Two ways I like to share are the following.
Our gut is often referred to as our second brain, and this is because 90% of the neurotransmitters created in our gut affect our mood. Aside from gut healing foods such as bone broth, try and eat foods that are diverse in healthy bacteria such as a live sauerkraut (not a sterilized one) or other fermented foods. Take probiotics, or incorporate a kefir into your daily routine. All these foods will positively affect the flora in your gut, which essentially aid the digestion of other foods while helping your brain function optimally.
The second method is to pair your foods to extract more nutrients. Combining certain superfoods with the right partners can also be helpful when amplifying the nutrients. For example, matcha has a high antioxidant profile and is great at revving up your metabolism. However, when a matcha latte is made with dairy, the calcium from the dairy can prevent the body from absorbing the antioxidants and minerals from the tea. It’s best paired with a non-dairy milk or warm water.
I know turmeric to be one of the most powerful antioxidants with great benefits for our health. Can you share with us your secret to getting the most out of consuming turmeric?
Turmeric is traditionally a hard herb to digest. Studies show if you add Turmeric to black pepper or healthy fats, it improves digestibility, however research shows if you Fermented Turmeric, it becomes even more absorbable than the former combinations. Fermenting the Turmeric metabolises the curcumin and over 300 other powerful compounds found in Turmeric outside the body allowing for quicker absorption into the blood stream upon ingestion. Turmeric is also an incredibly starchy compound, making it hard to turn back into a powder once it’s been fermented, however Fermentanicals as found a way to do that, landing our Fermented Turmeric the honor of being awarded Best Health food of the Year for 2017 from Food & Beverage Magazine! Fermented Turmeric is great not just for mental health, but for pain, inflammation, prevention, etc., Fans of functional medicine advocate to use the entire root, as opposed to just extracting the curcumin, as research also shows that non-curcumin Turmeric is just as effective in reducing inflammation and staving off cancer.
One incredible ingredient I know many people might not have heard about is black garlic. Can you please tell us what it is, why it’s so good for us and how can we incorporate it into our diet?
Our Fermented Black Garlic is so delicious, I literally call it Umami Fairy Dust! You can open the capsule and sprinkle it on foods to create a lovely balsam-icky, tamarind like caramelized flavour. Raw garlic by itself has many well-known potential health benefits such as improving immune function, reducing inflammation, and improving cardiovascular and circulatory health because it contains vital nutrients such as Magnesium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Selenium, Vitamins B6 and C. However, when fermented under a specifically controlled environment, with just the right temperature and humidity, the true potency of garlic is unlocked. Fermenting the garlic essentially doubles the antioxidants and phosphorus, produces 6 times the calcium and protein, and it produces greater levels of S-ally cysteine (SAC) aiding in lowering cholesterol. The standardized levels of SAC created by the fermentation process is what makes black garlic truly magical. Take a look at the difference in amino acids contained in garlic due to the fermentation process:
Essential Amino Acids Raw Garlic (100g) Fermented Black Garlic (100g)
Isoleucine 217mg 371mg Leucine 308mg 779mg Lysine 273mg 385mg Methionine 76mg 210mg Histidine 113mg 287mg Phenylalanine 183mg 461mg Tryptophan 66mg 102mg Valine 291mg 610mg
Jayta, we share a common approach to holistic health and nutrition Can you please share with us your philosophy/approach to health?
I combine my multi-disciplinary background with my heritage to view health from a more holistic perspective. I take a functional approach to health and firmly believe that all facets of our being influence each other. This means that when we are seeking to be healthy, we must not only examine our physical wellness, we should also consider our mental state, our diets, our lifestyle, etc. I firmly believe they all influence and impact each other. For example, take an individual who is looking to lose weight. Their mood around the perception of weight loss may catapult of halt the very weight loss itself. If they are stressed out when they are eating their healthy meals because they are not enjoying it, or are stressed out, your body may take longer to digest the meal, wreaking havoc on the digestive system, and slowing the metabolism down. However, if they are positive and enjoying the meal, they can digest optimally.
What made you start Fermentanicals?
Many people ask me how I made the jump from Psychological Counseling to owning a Health food brand – and believe it or not, the journey is not that unrealistic as the two are very related. I found that the more I counseled people, the more we would delve into their diets. I practiced yoga psychotherapy with my clients at times, so I was already keenly aware of the body and mind connection, however to further my knowledge, I became certified in Nutritional Health Coaching as well. As I began using the two types of counseling together, I noticed a positive affect our diets have on our emotional health. Soon after, a plethora of research began to surface regarding our microbiome’s and gut flora. Turns out according to science, 90% of the neurotransmitters created in your gut affect your mental wellbeing, hence our guts now being referred to as our second brains. All these findings, coupled with my own tumultuous health journey of having a broken body after having children, led me to do more research on how to naturally combat depression and anxiety. The research I found was amazing in that nature has given us so many cures. The one finding I found most interesting is that Turmeric/Curcumin works better than anti-depressants. Turmeric, however is very hard for our bodies to digest. Upon delving deeper down the rabbit hole, I found empirical research indicating that fermenting Turmeric makes it more bioavailable and easier to digest. I began recommending Turmeric to my clients. Not just for mental health, but for pain, inflammation, prevention, etc., however, I could not find the Fermented version anywhere – hence Fermentanicals was born. Fermentanicals aims at not only improving physical health, but mental health as well. We made it our mission to take nutrient dense super foods and present it to consumers in the most digestible or bioavailable way via fermenting or sprouting. Our line has expanded from Fermented Turmeric, to much more – and all our products are backed by empirical research.
And because breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, please share with us your go-to breakfast?
I’m all about convenience, so more often than not, I opt for a morning smoothie. Usually something easy and delicious such as a the following blended up: 1 Cup of almond milk Handful of greens (such as kale or spinach)
Half a banana
1 TBSP of Fermentanicals Organic Sprouted Chia
1 TBSP Fermentanicals Organic Sprouted Flax
1 opened capsule of Fermented Turmeric
¼ TSP of cardamom
½ Tsp of cinnamon
Honey to taste.
Otherwise, If I’m in the mood to eat, I’ll toast up some paleo bread, smear it with avocado, have one sunny side up egg and garnish it with 1 opened capsule of Fermented Black Garlic.
When can readers find out more about Fermentanicals?
You can find out more by visiting www.fermentanicals.com.au
Enter the code LiveLoveNourish at the Fermentanicals checkout to receive 10% off your order.