Monday, May 29, 2017

On Making Brussel Sprout Sauerkraut and My Hypotheses on Cancer and Obesity

My homemade Brussels sprout sauerkraut
This week, I've finished fermenting my second batch of Brussels sprout sauerkraut (also known as Kimchi). Sauerkraut or kimchi (the former is German and the latter is Korean for the same thing) is generally fermented versions of cabbage. Leuconostoc bacteria eat away at the vegetable's natural sugar, leaving behind its lactic acid byproduct, which is tangy and sour. As a kid, I used to hate kimchi (maybe I still do), so, why have I turned my mother's kitchen into a fermentation lab? Because, I have a theory that obesity and cancer (and perhaps other diseases) are caused by having a lack of the right types of bacteria.

Nobody, at least that I know of, has stated the following thesis: One of the main driver, if not the main driver, of obesity is because of gut flora.

Of course, this is going to get a reaction from a number of critics, who have their own theory. I suppose the main one is that obese people have little self-restraint and eat too much and eat the wrong things. I agree with that too. But why?

In Jason Fung's brilliant book, The Obesity Code, Fung points out that obesity is really driven by hormonal imbalance with insulin being the main culprit. I reached the same conclusion independently on my trip to Europe this winter. There, because it was Christmas time, I was eating too many sweets and carbs, and I came back about 5 pounds (2.2 kgs) heavier. No good. A surge in insulin causes all kinds of hormonal changes, including but not limited to, increasing the size of fat cells, as well as causing one to be chronically hungry. Because quick food is generally bad food, one can see how hormonal changes makes one fat.

(In fact, I read a report about how a man wasn't eating and was getting fatter. Impossible you say! If no calories comes in, he can't get fatter. Not true. I figured it out. There was a hormonal imbalance in his body. Starving himself caused his body to eat away at his muscles, making more calories available for the body. But instead of the body using it, insulin surges was storing the calories into fat. Hence, it's not always as simple as calories in versus calories out in a complex system, which the human body is.)

The question, is then, what causes such hormonal imbalances? Is it just the foods we eat?

No, gut flora can also cause such hormonal changes. If one has a lot of yeast or fungus in their digestive track, the byproduct is often carbon dioxide and alcohol and other signals that we have yet to identify. The results of having good bacteria has shown to reverse even Crohn's disease. Livescience has this article that demonstrates that obese children have different gut bacteria than lean children. Fat Flora This article shows that bacterial transfer by fecal transplant heals Crohn's disease. Fecal Microbiota Transplantation for Inflammatory Bowel Disease The Russian Nobel Prize winner √Člie Metchnikoff believed that Bulgarian peasants lived long lives because of the yogurt they ate. In other words, the bacteria they ate, helped them live longer.

In any event, my theory has anecdotal support. Surveys show that 80%-90% of all people on a diet regain their fat back. We all know people who have lost weight, only to find that over time, they're back where they started or worse. (Even, I've been there). The 10%-20% who keep off weight, generally do so, through discipline, according to National Weight Control Registry.

But what about those people, who effortlessly don't ever have to worry about putting on weight and can eat what they want? Discipline isn't the answer for them.

Anyways, that's my theory - keeping fat off requires a change in gut flora. (It's not only fat; I think cancer is also driven by this too, but that's a topic for another time.)

Brussels Sprouts before fermentation
Here was how I made my Brussels Sprout sauerkraut.

(1) I chopped up my sprouts.

(2) I smashed in real ocean salt into the sprouts. (Real sea salt is a bluish grey, as all the trace minerals are in it still, because it hasn't been bleached. I think mine comes from the Red Sea. Thus, my sauerkraut also has trace minerals and elements too in it.)

(3) I made a brine of sea salt.

(4) I put everything in a jar and added smooth river stones to press the chopped sprouts. I think the rocks make it taste different, but my mother disagrees and says I'm being silly. Since the sprouts float, you need to have it submerged in water, or else, fungus and mold in the air gets on it.

(5) I let it sit out in room temperature for two and a half to three weeks. Three weeks was too long last time, because it's hotter now in Southern California. The heat makes the bacteria more active, which in turn, makes the greens less crunchy in the end.

That's it, folks. For my American readers, have a Happy Memorial Day.

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