Deirdre Rawlings, Fermented Foods For Health



Part II – Deirdre Rawlings
Fermented Foods for Health

Deirdre Rawlings holds a Ph.D. in holistic nutrition, a master’s in herbal medicine, and is a naturopathic doctor. She is the founder of Nutri-Living and a healthy cooking coach. Her specialties are allergies, digestive disorders, and immunity issues. She is the author of Foods that Fight Fibromyalgia and co-author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now! Cookbook. She lives in Atlanta, GA.


Caryn Hartglass: Hi Everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass, you’re listening to It’s All About Food, and here we are in part II on August 20th 2013. Moving on to talk about: we’re going to get small here and talk about some very special microorganism that can do wonders, and learn a lot.  So I’m going to bring on Deirdre Rawlings. She hold a PhD in Holistic Nutrition and Masters in Herbal Medicine, and is a Naturopathic Doctor. She’s the founder of NutriLiving and a Healthy Cooking Coach. Her specialties are allergies, Digestive Disorders, and immunity issues. She’s also the author of Foods that Fight Fibromyalgia, and co-author of  Beat Sugar Addiction Now! Cookbook . She lives in Atlanta, Georgia and we are talking about her new book: Fermented Foods for Health. Welcome to It’s All About Food, Deirdre.

Deirdre Rawlings: Hello Caryn .

Caryn Hartglass: Hello and How are you today?

Dierdre Rawlings:  I am doing great, Thank you very much for the lovely introduction

Caryn Hartglass: You’re very very welcome. So we are going to talk about fermented foods, and I imagine you must be pretty busy these days because it seems like everyone today has allergies, digestive disorders, and immunity issues.

Dierdre Rawlings: That’s so true, and I tell you the top five issues that people present with, to most physicians these days are probably: digestive issues, overweight, depressed, hormonal imbalances, and insomnia. A lot of people are having sleep disorders.

Caryn Hartglass: Right, well there are so many symptoms today that people have, that could be just about anything.

Dierdre Rawlings: And they are so related.

Caryn Hartglass: So many different illnesses have similar symptoms. It can be really difficult to diagnose.

Dierdre Rawlings: It really can, and a lot of them have these roots in the digestive systems, because this is where we are nourishing our entire organisms, the human body. I think one of the problems is that the allopathic medical system tend to isolate the systems of the body, we got 10 in total, and you are sent to various different specialists for these different systems: an internist or cardiologist or whatever the case may be, and they don’t talk to each other. So, they’re only treating that special area that that’s all they really know about, and they’re not really integrating the whole body as a whole, and looking at it from that perspective, a holistic perspective.

Caryn Hartglass: I like in Chapter 2, you have a section “Your body is a social network”. And that is something; I think people can relate to these days.

Dierdre Rawlings: Exactly, and that’s what these probiotics are. They’re like friends with benefits I call them, because they just have so many uses throughout the body, and particularly in the digestive system, which as you know I’m sure, is where 70% of your immune system resides. So these little probiotics, these amazing little microorganisms, they just do such a tremendous job of ensuring that we’re healthy from the digestive systems upward.

Caryn Hartglass: We can get into a lot of different things, but what I find interesting is, you go back in history and there are a lot of different cultures have special traditional foods that are fermented, and how they knew they were healthy. Then we fast-forward to the last 50 years, where we’re doing all of this industrial manufacture of foods, and we’re killing everything. Now, we have all of this health issues, and we’re starting to almost re-discover what we need in our guts. We’re just starting to learn about prebiotics, probiotics, and bacteria. It’s opening a whole new world of health and healing.

Dierdre Rawlings: The thing about fermented foods, the lack of fermented foods is that you’re right; they have been around for eons. Ever since the first piece of fruit fell on the ground and the bacteria started to ferment the product, and of course during the winter month, we you can’t get some of the same fruits and berries, and foods that you can get during the summer month, the fermentation was such a wonderful way to preserve that food, so that you can eat it throughout the various seasons. People are rediscovering it. That’s a very good reason.

Caryn Hartglass: Alright, just some basics: So what is fermentation?

Dierdre Rawlings:  What is fermentation? That is a good question. Basically it occurs when the bacteria converts sugars present in the food into cellular energy and lactate or lactic acid. This lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the putrefying bacteria. The process is one of the most significant forms of fermentation in the food industry.  Example is: vegetable lactic acid fermentation includes sauerkraut, cucumber pickles, kimchee, kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, cheese, tofu, and even wine and chocolate are fermented to some degree or another too.

Caryn Hartglass: We see lactic acid a lot as a listed ingredients in manufactured foods. I guess it works as a preservative to some extent.

Dierdre Rawlings: That’s correct. Yes it does.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so that’s what’s fermentation is. Now, we’ve been very socialized in the last 100 years or so, to be very concerned about germs and wanting everything to be clean and wanting everything to be sterile. To some extent it’s been beneficial, and to other extent we are starting to learn that it’s to our detriment. How do we know, the difference between fermented food and rotting food.

Dierdre Rawlings: If you get to be buying in the store, you certainly are not going to find the rotting food under the category of fermentation. Basically it has a really nice taste to it. It’s very palatable; it is very distinct sort of taste. Fermented food got that sour, pungent sort of flavor to it that might take the palate a bit of getting used to because we’re so used to that sweet taste. Once you get your palate accustomed to it, it’s very addictive almost, you start to crave it. Right from you take the first mouthful, you’re helping the mouth to become freshened up, and as it goes down into your gut and it starts to do its job, it starts to feel so good. The benefit is pretty rapid once you start eating it. You won’t have that same putrifying smell that you would experience when you were to smell some food that was rotting.  The look and the smell of it is very palatable.

Caryn Hartglass: I’ve been reading quite a bit about bacteria, because we’re learning a lot more about it. There has been some study showing that some bacteria can play a dual role! It can be good bacteria in some cases, bad bacteria in other cases. I just find it really fascinating, or that some bacteria that we need when we’re really young, then can wreak havoc when we’re older. Truly fascinating. But the thing is, when we treat our body nicely, it knows what to do

Dierdre Rawlings: It totally does. The thing is, you cant really avoid bacteria because it’s what we live with here on planet earth. It’s in all and everything. Even just a little pin dot has hundreds of thousands of bacteria living on Them. Of course some of it harmful, some of it friendly, and in a human gut for example, there’s about 3 punds worth of bacteria that live in your body. You want more of the friendly and less of the harmful. When you have more harmful overruling the friendly, that’s when you’re going to get sick, and your immune system is going to get compromised as a result of that. So you really can’t avoid bacteria. It’s just something natural and when you have a good supply of these friendly bacteria in your gut, you’re gong to be able to, say you have to eat a lot of pathogenic bacteria – it’s natural that you are going to have some of these pathogenic kind of bacteria that will pass through you. Like E.coli or some of these other bacteria that are on the food that you eat, whether it’s meat product, or even a produce: fresh fruits or vegetables are going to have some bacteria on it. But depending on the composition of your own gut bacteria, whether you got more friendly than harmful residing there, you’re going to have a much stronger immune system and be able to be not so affected adversely and get sick by any kind of harmful bacteria that passes through your body as a natural process of your eating and living

Caryn Hartglass: Reading your book, and when I’m reading other articles and books on this issue about the life going on inside of us. It’s pretty amazing there’s a whole universe of all kinds of  characters that are living within us. You even have these discussions where, it sounds like there are wars going on and we need to have a good army of healthy bacteria, otherwise the bad guys can take over.

Dierdre Rawlings: Totally, and that’s the difference between, two people can be exposed to the same set of environmental hazard or germs, or whatever you want to call them, and one person can come down with a horrific flu virus, and the other person, not at all. And why is that? Well it’s probably because they have a healthy supply of these friendly bacteria. The gut is in much better condition, in better shape, because it’s probably got more friendly bacteria residing there. The thing is with our western diet as well; this is one of the things that wreak havoc on our immune system, and our digestive systems, of course. Especially with all the high sugars, and High Fructose Corn Syrup, which according to some studies, the sugar can, not only render your immune system or suppress it for up to six hours, it could also alter the composition of micro flora for up to 24 hours later, do a lot of harm there and probably suppress the immune systems. The one thing is:  not only what you eat, it’s what you avoid, such as sugar; because the sugar is what feeds the pathogenic bacteria. It feeds the Candida, for example, the yeast. It feeds a lot of these other pathogenic bacteria; they love carbohydrates and sugary kind of food.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s like the good guys get drunk on sugar, white flour, and processed foods, and the bad guys take over.

Dierdre Rawlings: Totally, yeah. That’s just the way to put it. They go to town and they make you feel lousy. A lot of the symptoms that people are walking around with, for example, Candida; you have so many symptoms with it:  fatigue, brain fog, aches and pains, you can’t sleep, you’re hungry all the time, you gained weight. The Candida mimics so many things, and once you restore that balance of the friendly micro flora, that can all be alleviated. Benefits of probiotics are so immense: nutritionally they help manufacture vitamins in our food and our bodies. All the B vitamin, which is your stress vitamins, Vitamin A and Vitamin K, they help to digest lactose, they ‘re so beneficial for your digestive system. Some people who are lactose intolerant, they can eat yogurt and cultured dairy products. They help to regulate the peristalsis in the colon and regulate your bowel movement. They also help to digest protein as well, which is really important to break it down into those free form of amino acids; and of course they boost your immune system. They produce natural antibiotics and anti-fungal, which prevent the colonization of these harmful bacteria and fungus. They also help to manufacture essential fatty acids. They even help to break down and rebuild hormones, and just generally promote health.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s just amazing and I think we don’t even know about so many of the function that they do. We’re just at the tip of the iceberg, learning. But I think what’s very clear, and this is just one more way to look at it:  processed foods are not healthy for us, we need to get back to whole minimally processed foods, foods that are alive, and there are a lot of microorganisms in there that we don’t want to kill. We want to consume them, because they are good for us.

Dierdre Rawlings: That’s right. A lot of these fresh whole foods that you mentioned, they contained a lot of vitamins and minerals obviously, but they also contained fiber. Fiber is what’s called a prebiotics that these friendly probiotics need, in order to thrive. So, you want to have your fiber and create that really fabulous environment to nourish the friendly bacteria, and keep everything moving and healthy bowel movement.

Caryn Hartglass: So many people are sick today: Diabetes and obesities are on the rise, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s disease, lots of allergies.  You probably seen this, I know I have:  When people start to change their diet, and probiotics are very important piece, especially with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s disease, they can be cured.

Dierdre Rawlings: They truly can. If I had to recommend one supplement over and above everything else, it would be probiotics. The thing about probiotics is, that you can take them therapeutically or just prophylactically and I recommend, if you have any kind of digestive system disorders, like, IBS, Chron’s, Colitis, Celiac, and any of these kinds of things, you should be on probiotics. You should be taking them probably three times a day. Good thing about them is that you can’t overdose on them. Not like vitamins, minerals, or drugs, which you can overdose on, you simply can’t. So, just take them everyday. It will save you so much time and energy. It will give you so much life and vitality. It will restore your digestive system, which is really where the action is at; when you are properly absorbing and assimilating nutrients. This is what these probiotics are going to help you to do. And not only that, they also help to balance the body’s overall PH by creating a more alkaline blood, as well as an acidic environment in your stomach which is what you want, because you want that Hydrochloric Acid in your stomach, which kills the pathogenic ones when they hit your stomach. Your stomach is like your first line of defense, and you want to have a good supply of Hydrochloric Acid in there. The Probiotics will help to maintain that, and they are so conducive for a healthy digestive system.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m glad you brought that up because I know most of us don’t know anything about diet and how the body works, and there’s been these buzz about eating foods that make the body alkaline. I don’t think most people remember their chemistry and understand what PH and alkaline and acid is to begin with, but when we talk about alkaline, as you mentioned, we are talking about the blood and the urine.

Dierdre Rawlings: We are talking more about the blood, because the blood is the true barometer of the PH level of your body. It’s really the blood.  It’s very delicate because you can’t have your blood test everyday to check. One of the ways that we can check, getting an idea is through testing our urine. The blood PH is very delicate. It likes to maintain a balance of between about 7.2 to about 7.4. For those of you who aren’t familiar with PH, it’s basically the level of the hydrion PH in your body and it’s starts from 0 to 14 with 7 being in the middle. Anything from 7 and above is considered alkaline, and below 7 is acidic. Of course, there are different PH levels throughout the body: essentially, the stomach is a very high acid area, which you want it to be because you want that acid to kill off the pathogenic bacteria once it hits your stomach. The rest of the colon is pretty much PH alkaline and of course the blood is definitely between 7.2 to 7.4. So, if you deviate from that, if you’re eating too many chemical foods, sugary foods, devitalized food, these are very acidic, and they are going to throw that PH balance out of whack. Your body is so intelligent that it’s going to just take out certain minerals, like calcium and magnesium for example that can help to buffer that PH and help restore it back to the PH level that it’s meant to be.

However in the process of doing that, it’s going to rob the calcium out of storage places like bones and teeth and of course, you’ve seen a lot of people having osteoporosis, especially once women going through menopause for example, we’ve seen a lot of hip replacement. All kinds of disorders are coming about because PH balance of the body is out of balance.

Caryn Hartglass: You’ve got a lot of recipes in your book and people can go to the store and they can buy probiotics. But one of the great ways to get a lot of the great benefits of probiotics is to eat fermented foods. About half of your books is recipes that people can make, which is great. Here on It’s All About Food, I promote a plant-based diet so I’d like to focus on some of the wonderful fruit and vegetables recipes that you have in here. And just to mention, you do talk about yogurt and kefir, which is dairy based, but you can also make those things from non-dairy milk.

Dierdre Rawlings: Coconut and nut-milk, absolutely.

Caryn Hartglass: I’ve made a bunch of yogurt from almond milk, and it’s just fabulous

Dierdre Rawlings: It’s wonderful and you can make cashew cheese and fermented. Even the jams and preserves and things like that, I like to ferment my jam and preserves and talk about a taste sensation. It just feels so good. You know you’re doing good for you body and it just start to move you away from that sugary kind of addictive, it is kind of sickening after a while once you changed your palette around that taste. I always say to people; even if you just have a mouthful a day of something that is fermented, and I’d say, go with sauerkraut, because it’s got about 300-400 times of Vitamin C than any other food. And that is all you need, and it taste wonderful. Just that alone is like packing a good dose of probiotics. Of course you want to have a lot of different sort of food because it has different strength of bacteria. We need to have a range of different bacteria. They only have a short life span these bacteria, about 10 days, which is like the course of a dose of antibiotics when they put you on those. That’s why they’re only a short dose because they’re going to kill them; they’re going to naturally die anyway within about 10 days to 14 days. So, even just having a mouthful of sauerkraut , put it on your salad everyday, you will be giving yourself a medicinal treat.

Caryn Hartglass: A lot of people just like to buy stuff in the store; they’re not very good at home. I think there are some pluses and minuses about doing fermented foods at home. The thing is you have to plan in advanced. You can’t just say, I think I want to have fermented foods today, what is in the cupboard, unless you go to the store and get something, because it takes about a week with some of these things. You can probably make a rejuvelac in a few days. These things take planning, but once you’re in the mode of doing it, then it’s there waiting for you.

Dierdre Rawlings: Exactly, and it’s such a treat. Like I said, you can get all the nice summer fruits and berries and stone fruits and what have you. Before they go out of season, you can just ferment them.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, lets just get like a quick little idea of what fermenting requires

Dierdre Rawlings: Basically, it is not a lot. All you need is like fermentation starter, which could be whey or sometimes with cabbage you don’t need anything to start. All you need is salt and water and that’s it. The little microorganisms will do the job for you. As long as you got the Mason jar, you need a screw top lid, some people use these airlock lids, which are a bit fancier but you don’t need to use those. You just need a Mason jar, some water and salt, and if you were going to use a whey starter, then you’d get your starter ahead of time. But that’s really all you need because Mother Nature does the rest for you.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m always concern about salt in my food, and a lot of these fermentation processes requires salt.

Dierdre Rawlings: You want to make sure that you’re using a good quality like a Celtic or Himalayan salt. You’re absolutely right; you don’t want any of these table salts that are iodized or anything like that, anything that has been devitalized in any way. You just want to have the good, healthy salt. I recommend a Celtic or Himalayan crystal salt, which I recommended throughout the book and throughout the recipes.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, and if I make a sauerkraut and then I rinse it afterwards. Does that have a negative effect if I want to try and get whatever salt is leftover in it to make it less salty?

Dierdre Rawlings: You don’t have to use a whole lot of salt. You don’t really want to rinse it; certainly not using tap water, because it might diminish the probiotics there as well.

Caryn Hartglass: I don’t salt my food, so when I get a little salt on something I’m really sensitive.

Dierdre Rawlings: You need a little bit of that. But I think you’re going to find that with the sauerkraut it’s going to be outweighed any salt flavor by the nice pungent sourly taste. It’s also going to have the high Vitamin C to bring out the flavor of the cabbage a lot more. It’s not going to taste very salty actually.

Caryn Hartglass: I had Kathy Hester on the first part of the show. I said I was going to ask you a question, and I’m going to do it right now. We were talking about beans, because her book is The Great Vegan Bean. A lot of people complain about gas and other things when they’re eating beans. Is this something that probiotics can help?

Dierdre Rawlings: The thing about beans is they have phytic acid in them. In order to release the enzyme in the beans to make them more digestible, it is better to soak them over night. I always recommend that you soak them for 12 hours or overnight and you will release those enzyme inhibitors. If you’re going to ferment the beans, the probiotics will have a much better time, and bring out all those the nutrients.

Caryn Hartglass: I have to ferment my beans!

Dierdre Rawlings: I like to ferment beans as well. I recommend organic beans, especially the soybeans, but definitely baked beans is wonderful, in fact I have fabulous recipes in there, it’s one my favorite as well.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay Deirdre thanks so much for joining me at It’s All about Food, and I’m going to start growing things here in my kitchen.

Dierdre Rawlings: Wonderful, Nice talking to you. Thank you so much Caryn.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, all the best. You’ve been listening to another episode of It’s All About Food. Thank you so much for joining you and me can find me at Send me messages or info at, always love to hear from you. Have a very delicious week

Transcribed by Jessica Heidi Anggiansah, 11/1/2013

  3 comments for “Deirdre Rawlings, Fermented Foods For Health

  1. Hi Deirdre
    Do you have any information regarding the shelf life of various fermented foods ?
    Just going to start on a fermented bean recipe & just thought be good to know how long I can store it for please ?

  2. Great chatting with you yesterday, Caryn! I enjoyed sharing information with your listeners about my latest book, Fermented Foods For Health: Use the Power of Probiotic Foods to Improve Your Digestion, Strengthen Your Immunity, and Prevent Illness [] — Lacto fermented foods are the bomb! 🙂

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