Donna Gates on How Fermented Foods Can Unlock Your Best Health (Plus Cutting-Edge New Info)

Content By: Ari Whitten & Donna Gates

In this episode, I am speaking with Donna Gates – founder of The Body Ecology Diet and bestselling author of “The Body Ecology Diet” and “Growing Younger” –  about why fermented foods should be a staple in your diet.

Table of Contents

In this podcast, Donna and I discuss:

  • Why including fermented foods in our diet is so crucial to good health
  • How cultured foods changes our gut biome and therefore our health for the better
  • How fermented foods are able to help reverse the cell danger response through signaling with our mitochondria (and what that means for our energy levels!)
  • Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, nattō, miso — which are the best to make at home?
  • Which medical conditions have bacteria-friendly foods been shown to be effective for?
  • Top tips for eating more live, raw foods for those who don’t enjoy the taste
  • For what reasons do some people struggle to eat fermented foods, and how can they overcome that?
  • Little-known facts and secrets of these amazing superfoods
  • How much of these amazing foods should we be eating, optimally?

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Ari: Hey, this is Ari. Welcome back to the Energy Blueprint podcast. With me today on the show for the second time is Donna Gates, who is the international bestselling author of The Body, Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity. Also the author of The Body Ecology Guide To Growing Younger: Anti-aging Wisdom for Every Generation. For the last 25 years, she’s been on a mission to change the way the world eats. Her first book, The Body Ecology Diet introduced the world to a sugar-free gluten-free casing-free, and probiotic, rich diet, and a way of life that is now followed by tens of thousands of people around the world.

The diet grew to popularity initially by word of mouth. All these years later still stands the test of time. She is a true natural health pioneer. She pioneered and championed foods like young coconut kefir and coconut oil, and coined the phrase, “The inner ecosystem to describe the still undiscovered network of microbes in our gut now called the microbiome.” She also began teaching about the long-forgotten health benefits of fermented foods to provide the diversity needed in a healthy gut. Over the past 25 years, Donna has become one of the most respected authorities in the field of digestive health, diet, and nutrition.

Even cooler, this is somebody who I’ve personally followed since I was a kid since I was a teenager, I read her book, I don’t know, maybe at age 15 or 16, something like that. I was out there experimenting with making my own kimchi at home and making my own kefir at home as a result of her work. It’s a pleasure to now be interviewing her and to call her a personal friend of mine. There’s a lot of great stuff that she talks about in this episode.

She wanted to come on the podcast and talk about some new layers to this story of fermented foods and how they benefit us. Some of the mechanisms and some of the misunderstandings that people have out there. There’s a lot of really cool hacks embedded into this discussion about how to get around certain problematic issues and how to use them, pair them with other foods in great ways. There’s a lot of great gold nuggets in this discussion, and I hope you enjoy this episode with Donna Gates. Welcome back to the show for round number two, Donna, such a pleasure to have you.

Donna: This is great because I remember we talked before about ammonia and can bring up ammonia again in this talk. Ari, when we talked before I said that I would love to get on the show and talk about fermented foods because I’m constantly hearing about them today. They went from absolutely obscure where no one ever knew what they were to being really popular now, but there’s not a really good understanding. I’m really glad we picked this topic to talk about.

Ari: Me too. You are one of the OGs of fermented foods. This is actually a true story. I think I believe I told you this once before. I was literally a teenager reading your book. I was probably 15 years old, 16 years old, and then figuring out ways to– I couldn’t afford your products, the like Kefir packs and stuff like that because I had no money at the time. I was figuring out ways like on Craigslist, finding somebody selling Kefir grains for like $7. I would go drive halfway across San Diego and get Kefir grains. I started making Kefir in my home and experimented with making kimchi and things like that. Literally, as a teenager, over 20 years ago as a result of following your work.

Donna: You didn’t tell me that whole story. That’s amazing. I’d like to talk about kefir grains actually if you can bring that up later on. Again, that’s part of the misunderstanding I think. One of the things that are out there.

Ari: Absolutely.

Donna: What is an OG? Because you just said I’m an OG, but I don’t know what an OG is.

Ari: Original gangster.

Donna: Oh. Good. Well, because that sounds like a compliment.

Ari: It’s a compliment. Trust me,

Donna: It was a rebellious thing and I actually was the person who brought Stevia. I had Monsanto hating me. That was an interesting fight. Then I brought out coconut oil and started selling that and telling people how important it was. There were no fermented foods in the country. You couldn’t purchase them and they weren’t popular yet. People didn’t know how to make them. I just had different groups of people after me. Even the Center for Science and Public Interest wanted to talk to me about Stevia. As soon as they heard that I was promoting coconut oil, they wouldn’t have anything to do with me. Those were interesting times back then.

Ari: Interesting. Now you go to the local health food store here in Southern California, and there’s 10 different brands of kimchi and sauerkrauts which [crosstalk].

Donna: Two different brands and five or six different flavors.

Ari: Yes. Exactly.

Donna: Totally a different world today. I wanted that back in those days, I had this vision that they would become popular and they would be in everybody’s homes, and they would be serving them in schools. These really poor areas where, unfortunately, the poor African American people live and then they raise kids who get into trouble and become criminals and all. Honestly, I swear if you understood the power of fermented food, certain ones, it would stop all of that. I had this vision a long time ago, so I’m really glad to see it. That’s why I just like to get people more aware of the positive and negative side of them.

What are fermented foods?

Ari: Absolutely. What is a fermented food? Let’s start there. Let’s start with the broadest of the broad, because people, maybe they’ve heard the term, maybe they’ve seen kimchi or sauerkraut, or Kefir or something like that, but they don’t really understand chemically what’s going on to make it a fermented food.

Donna: Well, there are sugars in carbohydrates in foods, and when the microbes that are present on those foods start to act upon those and produce organic acids and so on. Even alcohol, the bad bacteria in those foods die off and the good ones are the ones that survive. They basically make that food, keep it from becoming spoiled to becoming, a shelf-stable actually, and they are survival foods. Before man even knew what was happening, the first living things on the planet were bacteria and [unintelligible 00:06:52].

When man came along, he was getting the benefit of fermentation, but he didn’t know what it was. Then nobody knows exactly when man became aware of fermentation. They know that at least by 10,000 years ago, they were already beginning to actively ferment, intentionally ferment. They found vessels, and bowls and pans and things like that, from pots and things that really ancient man had. They have signs that they were eating fermented foods back then.

How fermented foods affect human health

Ari: Very interesting. As of now, this has become an important area of research for a wide variety of reasons. We have obviously, especially in the last 20 years and really the last 10, in particular, research on gut health and the microbiome has exploded. Interest in the synergistic, mutually beneficial relationships of these microbes living inside of us more broadly has become more widely known.

We now know that there’s a gut brain access, a gut lung access, a gut skin access, a gut mitochondria access. We know that what’s going on in our gut and our microbiome is affecting basically all of the systems of our body. What in your mind are some of the key benefits or key areas of research between this field of probiotics and fermented foods and human health?

Donna: What comes up is that, when we’re born, this amazing event is occurring, it’s invisible. When nobody ever really knew that it was occurring, but that’s where the baby comes into the world is exposed to all these microbes. The immune system is beginning to be built at that time. I always like to say that nature vaccinates us, by beginning to give us a strong immune system, but it’s up to us after that to keep that going. That’s where the fermented foods come in. Just like you mentioned, anything practically that you want to type into PubMed like fermented foods and diabetes, fermented foods and high blood pressure or cancer, anything you’ll find studies on it.

I literally had to get a bigger computer because I was constantly finding stuff and saving it, but I wrote that down because there’s so many of them. Also, one of the things I thought about and because I knew we were going to be talking is that you’re an expert on the mitochondria energy. One of the most important things that they do is the antioxidants. The reactive oxygen species that are produced constantly on the body are negated and that’s one of the reasons we live longer. When the mitochondria sense danger, they shut down and other functions in the body start to take over.

One of the things that the microbes particularly the fermented foods are doing, they are preventing that cell danger response because when things entered the body either because we breathe them in or like COVID. The very first thing that COVID attacked basically, was the microbiome. The cells would’ve experienced that since that basically and started to do their cell danger response thing. If the microbes are there and COVID attacks, there isn’t any reason for a cell danger response. I think that’s very critical. Also, they keep the body so much cleaner, they keep the gut cleaner. As you said, all these different parts of the body that are connected to the gut.

I’m just going to read a list right here besides being antioxidants against free radicals. In the world functional medicine, we always say a function of food is something that keeps us healthy, prevents us from getting disease. Well, that’s exactly what they do. They’re truly a superfood and truly functional food. They change the environment of the gut, they would prevent food poisoning. Let’s say, I might have experienced food poisoning but I would never know it because I’m eating them all the time. We’re eating raw foods, we’re eating foods that are supposed to be organic but they will even so be sprayed with glyphosate.

They can actually negate the glyphosate, which is huge because there’s a lot of glyphosate on everything and there will be for a long, long time. You can even get tested with Great Plains to see how much glyphosate you’re storing in your body. You’ll see a difference, it’s very protective against all kinds of pesticides and so on. Another really important thing that I’ve been into for a long time is food poisons, we want to call them at like lectins, oxides, especially or issue and then, of course, phytic acid, a lot of grains and seeds and nuts, and so on, have phytic acid on them. They deplete our body of minerals.

Well, if you are eating those and you have all these good, healthy microbes in your gut from say fermented vegetables, they’ll degrade the phytic acid. About 80% of the oxides are reduced lectins, 80% of those are reduced. We’re going to have a much healthier response to the food that we’re eating. That’s extremely important. They unbind the minerals from the phytic acid. Many people, I go to the store, even a health food store and I see people out there buying bread, for example, that bread didn’t get soaked or sprouted to remove those toxins basically, people are just eating them. We don’t realize that that food is depleting our body of minerals.

If you’re going to have a sandwich from that kind of bread, you should have it with fermented vegetables in your diet. Mood and depression, there’s a ton of research on that and that’s a good brain connection, anxiety and depression is a huge problem today. One of the most important things I felt like I’ve come across is that, there’s a group of researchers that looked around the world to find out when COVID was here. Controlling everything and they thought, “Well, some people don’t– Some countries are not getting COVID and some people aren’t dying from it. Why? Let’s look at those countries.”

Well, it turns out that all the countries where there was almost no death rate and very low COVID, were the [unintelligible 00:14:13] regions. This is like Korea where they’re eating fermented foods, other areas of Japan, and so on. Their rate was very low and they concluded that probably the reason in countries like here in the UK and so on, people didn’t have this protection of the fermented foods and then added to the higher death rate.

The other thing I thought was only important was when I found a study about vaccinations. People that chose to get vaccinated, if they ate [unintelligible 00:14:48] which is the most prominent bacteria in fermented vegetables, they had a very healthy response to the vaccine. We know today that a lot of people are having a bad response from the vaccine so those are really to me– I don’t know, also if I mention acne but I’m a perfect example because I started off having acne as a teenager. I started taking antibiotics for 15 years because doctors kept saying, “Oh, that’s all right. You can take it forever.”

I thought that I’d always have bad skin, supposedly it was genetic, but then I got rid of the yeast infection, and started eating fermented foods. I have good skin now, especially for my age so I can be a testimony for that. There’s so many things about the nutrients, they’re super high and vitamin C, and B vitamins folate. A lot of people have MTHFR, just eat fermented vegetables, if you want to get enough folate in your diet. I have a bunch more things, cardiovascular disease, super good for insulin resistance and diabetes, lowers your risk of urinary tract infections and allergic diseases and then I’ll stop there.

Ari: It’s a pretty extensive list.

Kefir – how to get the most beneficial version

Donna: Good argument, including them in your diet for sure, but then they’re not all the same, some are definitely– Everything that I quoted is really research on mostly vegetables. Not necessarily because dairy kefir is very heavily researched but when you said you started making kefir, were you talking about from milk?

Ari: Yes. From milk using real kefir grains.

Donna: Well, I can bring up something about that too. Sometimes people would criticize me because I started making starter available. The starter for the vegetables is Plantarum and vegetables already have Plantarum in great amounts but if you add a starter, which is what they do all the time commercially, the amount of Plantarum changes enormously. I decided to make some. I made three batches and sent them off to the university of Nebraska and three batches with starters. Some had starters, some didn’t have starters. They did analyze them when they found out-

Ari: The ones without starter, what did they have?

Donna: They had 58,000 CFUs per gram. Gram is a tiny amount and then the ones over here that had the starter had 1,800,000 CFUs per gram.

Ari: Got it.

Donna: I was shocked at the huge difference in them. Of course, you can’t see that.

Ari: Oh, actually, sorry I was asking something different. When you initially shipped them off to the University of Nebraska, you put starter in some and what did the other ones have? They were exposed to the kefir grains?

Donna Yes. Three jars were native [laughs] in other words, whatever microbes were on those vegetables, I don’t even remember exactly which recipe I made but they didn’t have any boost from extra Lactobacillus, and then the other three jars had Lactobacillus extra added from the starter but same thing with the– Kefir grains are great except that I was teaching something that nobody knew anything about back in those days. Speaking, I went to Seattle to teach people about kefir at these stores called PCC. I think PCC in Seattle and the talk was on kefirs.

People showed up with these gigantic jars of kefir that they had made from grains. They would say to me at different stores, they would say are these safe to eat? They had pink and green around the side and bubbly, weird stuff [chuckles] on the top. That was when I decided to start figuring out how to get away from the grains because I didn’t wanna be sued. Again, that was back in the day when Monsanto and everybody was– I thought I maybe end up in jail one day, so I couldn’t afford to kill people. I was really, truly afraid of that. I did a lot of research and found a real ancient Russian starter that is used commercially and they made that available to us.

You can definitely use grains but two issues with them, they’re transferred from one batch to another and they can easily become contaminated and people are passing them around. You honestly, really don’t know what microbes are on them. With repeated use, after a couple of times of transferring, you’ve lost your yeast. You can tell that because the product doesn’t have that bubbly quality to it anymore because [unintelligible 00:20:04]. I just thought that this would be a safer thing to do. All these years, we’ve sold a lot of starters. I started for myself to use them.

Donna’s favorite fermented foods

Ari: Very, very interesting. The key foods that are fermented foods that you advocate if you could list them out, they would be sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and what else? Would tempeh fall into that? What other foods fall into this category? Nattō?

Donna: There’s a lot of different foods that can be fermented. Of course, vegetables but not all vegetables. The root vegetables like carrots are great, turnips. Your cruciferous vegetables and then that makes the product really rich in sulforaphane which is great. Of course, [unintelligible 00:20:55].

Ari: Does the sulforaphane stay active in there?

Donna: Oh, yes. Definitely. It’s very rich.

Ari: Okay.

Donna: Nothing beneficial is destroyed. Nutrients like vitamin C are greatly enhanced when it’s fermented. Soybeans can be fermented. Tempeh is a fermented product but it doesn’t have live bacteria on it. They kill the bacteria before you’re actually eating it. Now, miso is another fermented soy product. It’s my favorite because it really can be live. If you buy the unpasteurized which is easy to get from the health food store, there’s even some companies, South River Miso will ship you an excellent quality raw miso. You don’t want to pour hot water over that and kill that bacteria.

If you keep it, you dissolve on that miso paste in warm water, you’re keeping that bacteria live. That’s a great food. Boy, if you come down with a flu and you want to have an antiviral diet that I teach people, miso soup is a really important source of protein because you can’t eat other animal proteins. Anyway, miso soup is excellent for you. Now, I really liked the concept of nattō. It has a lot of benefits. I’ve been to Japan several times and lived there to learn their old ancient ways of cooking. I got over there and saw the nattō and thought it was great. I know they give it to their babies. I’ll give them one little nattō grain, a little bean, to swallow, to make them healthier.

It’s extremely high in oxalates because soybeans are high in oxalates. When you ferment them, the oxalates don’t go away because the fermentation process is just 24 hours where miso, the fermentation process is months like three months, six months so the oxalates are gone. It is the best of those soy products. You can ferment grains. You can’t really ferment nuts and seeds. Of course, kombucha is extremely popular. I’m not a fan of kombucha because I know so many people have systemic yeast infections. There’s a lot of yeast in kombucha. The traditional way of making it is you take a tea with a lot of sugar in it and you put the SCOBY in there which is a starter.

It’s supposed to consume the sugar but lots of people don’t ferment it long enough to get rid of the sugar. It should ferment almost to a vinegar, then it would be healthier. A lot of wild fermentation comes along in the air and so you’re getting a lot of yeast in kombucha. A lot is very popular. It’s the most popular except for yogurt and dairy, kefir, for example. Kombucha is the most popular fermented food in the store I would say. As you said, there’s a bunch of companies making fermented vegetables too. Now, of course, dairy has been fermented forever.

Kefir is a really ancient food that they think came from the Turks. They lived in the desert. They think it was spontaneous fermentation and they survived on it. I feel so sorry because right now the people in Somalia are dying severely of hunger because their camels and their goats, and they literally live off of their fermented dairy products from those animals. The animals are dying because there’s no water. They have a severe drought. Of all the things that I thought, “Well, gosh, too bad. We can’t fly in fermented vegetables for them all.” Because most of the people that are dying are little tiny children.

The animals were extremely important for them. Supposedly, the myths around kefir is they were actually the food of Noah’s Ark. I wondered sometimes because people did survive the flooding of the earth about 6,000 years ago. These foods have always been survival foods. I think they’re survival foods right now because all these diseases that we have, they are a solution for you. Again, they’re not for everybody. A lot of people can’t do dairy, for example. They can’t do dairy kefir.

The benefits of coconut water kefir

Years ago, I don’t know if you’re still following then, but I decided to take this coconut water that everybody was so crazy about, especially in the raw foods movement.

Ari: Yes. [unintelligible 00:25:42]

Donna: I thought, “This stuff is full of sugar. It’s not good to just be drinking this like people are. Yes, it has a lot of minerals. It’s good for you in that way, but it’s just too sweet.” One day, I decided to put our kefir starter in there and fermented it for a couple of days, and started checking it out. I thought, “Oh, my gosh. This stuff’s interesting.” Over the next couple of weeks, my skin started looking great, then I started telling all these other people in the raw community out there. I was doing some lecturing so it was easy to tell people. They started doing it, of course, and then people would give me feedback. Women’s said who were in their 40s, their period came back and they started having a healthy period.

Ari: Wow.

Donna: Other women told me that when they did have a period, the blood was so clean and clear and pure. People with joint problems, they instantly disappeared in a few days. I thought, “Well, I don’t know what this is but it’s good.” Right after that, the first child with autism showed up in my life, his mom called me. I just told her what I thought would be a good thing including the coconut kefir. She actually lived in Charleston on an island called Isle of Palms. I remember hanging up after talking to her a couple of hours thinking, “All right, I told her to get this coconut kefir, make it, and center starter.” I thought she’ll never do it. Who knows even how to cut open these things?

So many of the mothers are just so intent on getting their kids well, she did it. The little guy’s name was Thomas. He was about to turn three. Today, he goes to Clemson which is University in South Carolina.

Ari: Wow.

Donna: He’s a really good student. Engineering is his field. He was the first shot to recovery, recovered pretty quickly. His mom, Diane and I, began to pull other mothers together and their kids started recovering. At that time, [unintelligible 00:27:45] recovered. The young coconut kefir was a really important part of getting these kids on the road to wellness because they have yeast infections, a lot of toxins in the body. The coconut kefir is really good for getting rid of toxins and heavy metals like mercury. It was beginning to fix the gut which was fixing the brain, gut-brain issue that they had so they start talking and be more present in the world.

The thing about the coconut kefir was it wasn’t made of dairy. It still had the microbes that are present in kefir but the other thing is it was easy for their moms to put it into things. For example, Diane, Thomas’ mother, she said, “I don’t think I can get Thomas to drink this. I’m just going to put it in his junky juice.” She never would tell me what that was because he was embarrassed. Even in the junkie juice, it started doing its job.

Ari: Wow.

Donna: I have really good stories to tell about the groups of moms and their amazing moms in many [unintelligible 00:28:49]. Eventually, we had over 2,000 people in Bedrock in the Facebook group and a lot of more practitioners. The word spread all over the world. People realize how important diet was because at that time, they didn’t know for sure. Maybe it had a difference. Maybe gluten-free and dairy-free was important, but the kids only got better, a little bit better. They didn’t get well. You have to fix the microbiome. You have to clean the body of toxins. You have to get rid of the yeast infections. The whole diet and this particular food was a really important part of that.

Ari: Very interesting. Was there any indication or do you have any indication now that there’s something unique about young coconut kefir as compared to dairy kefir that it would be uniquely beneficial?

Donna: I do think the substrate, the coconut versus dairy, is definitely better for people with gut problems because who can’t do dairy are people with gut problems. They have an inflamed gut, a leaky gut, and the permeable gut, the casing in dairy gets through into the body and their immune system sees it as a foreign problem basically, and attacks. They got a strong autoimmune condition. It definitely affects the brain. Also, the casing that was available. In other words, if they made dairy, unless they got it from a raw Jersey cow or raw milk, let’s say from a Jersey cow. Which is [unintelligible 00:30:24] casing.

Or they got it from a goat which is an [unintelligible 00:30:27] and most of the kids have been formula-fed. They didn’t get that real start. Nobody knew anything about it back in those days yet. I think that dairy just simply isn’t the delivery system for those particular microbes, which basically, what makes kefir unique in the dairy world is that it’s got all the yeast in it, different strains of yeast. By the way, fermented vegetables have other strains in them too and they have a ton of saccharomyces boulardii, which is a super important yeast. I’m just always defaulting back to my love for fermented vegetables.

Ari: Very [crosstalk].

Donna: [inaudible 00:31:09] those two, by the way. They didn’t like them at first, some of the kids took to them right away because kids like sour pickle taste, but some of them didn’t. The moms would have to do things like– One of the things that worked was they take a bowl of the cultured vegetables and then take a bunch of chips, blue corn chips, and they would scoop up the vegetables and eat them that way. The kids liked that, so that started them on that path.

These were sugar eaters all their life. They’re extremely drawn to carbs and sugar, and if you are, the sour foods don’t taste good. As soon as you start to introduce them into their body, their brain changes, and their desire for these foods kicks up. I remember one of my first emails from a mom, she said that she was shocked because the first thing parents would say is, “I’ll never getting my child to eat vegetables. He only eats bread crumbs. A crust of bread or the crust off the pizza. Never eat broccoli.” One mom wrote in and she said, “I can’t believe that he crawled up on my lap and picked the broccoli off my plate and ate it.” Their brain is changing and their desire for food is what’s changing.

Ari: Very interesting. You mentioned earlier that kefir probably originated in Turkey. Interestingly enough, my mom was actually born in Turkey so I went there twice when I was a kid growing up. I think the first time I must have been eight or nine years old, and the first place I ever had kefir was in Istanbul. At that time, for me, it was very tart. To your point that you were just making, they’ve normalized to that sourness, that tartness of it, but for me, it was like, “Oph, I kind of like this. It’s kind of like yogurt, but it’s really tart.” and then I ended up scooping.

I remember scooping sugar into it and I must have scooped probably five teaspoons of sugar into this large cup of kefir, and at that point, it’s probably not a health food. I remember getting it to taste very delicious and really enjoying it.

Donna: You can also do that with a little vanilla flavoring and stevia and get that same benefit. All [unintelligible 00:33:34] when you go to the store and you’re looking at all the different kefir and yogurts out there, they’re all flavored with sugar, because people are just not going for the sour taste, but I like to introduce little children to the sour taste when they’re very, very young, even a week old. We just had a new baby born about two weeks ago and he was put into NICU because he inhaled meconium. They give you antibiotics, unfortunately, and at least they stopped them from giving him the [unintelligible 00:34:06] and everything.

It wasn’t the ideal start that they wanted and I wanted for him. He was very fussy when he got home. They give him formula in the hospital and he got home and he’s crying, and you can tell he’s in distress. I said, “We’ll take the juice of the fermented vegetables which he had been eating throughout the pregnancy and dilute that.” Like an 80-20 ratio. 80% water, 20% of the juice, and take [unintelligible 00:34:37] and put a little bit, an ounce in his mouth.

Right away, he started fussing, he started breastfeeding, which he wouldn’t do before and he started sleeping instead of screaming, so that’s not too early to begin to, and that’s not the normal bacteria that a brand new baby’s supposed to be building. They’re supposed to be really getting Bifidus bacteria. It still worked for him. I know that so many babies today struggle to get that inner ecosystem started at the beginning of life. I just wish more pediatricians or doctors, and even midwives and birthing instructors and lactation consultants, they actually ended up hiring one. She just told her to not eat kale anymore, which is ridiculous.

Benefits of consuming fermented foods while being on antibiotics

That just reminded me that another benefit of the fermented vegetables is they are resistant to antibiotics. They do degrade histamine, so if you have to take an antibiotic, you want to be eating the fermented vegetables while you’re taking on antibiotics so that you still have these good bacteria left in your gut and yeast don’t ever grow.

Ari: Yes, actually, there’s a common misconception around that, that people will say to not take probiotics while you’re taking the antibiotic because they’re worried the antibiotic will just kill the beneficial bacteria. In fact, we actually have research on the subject showing better outcomes when people do consume probiotics while they’re taking antibiotics, to the point of your recommendation there.

Donna: I think that probiotic supplements, which I’m very for, there’s a lot of research on how good they are, but if you take them with a meal, and you’ve taken fermented vegetables and coconut kefir, the bacteria help each other out all the time, so they’re going to help those microbes survive. That’s one of the myths out there, I heard a very well-known microbiome expert say several times. I was shocked, first of all, that the microbes in the fermented foods don’t make it down into the colon. They don’t make it past the stomach acid, they absolutely do, and they make it past the bile acid as well too.

When they get done into the colon, they don’t necessarily colonize, which is one thing he said, but they’ll stay around for several weeks and while they’re in there, they’re producing these critical anti-microbial substances, so they’re killing things. Pathogens that you might be eating, or being exposed to, like I said, that COVID immediately infected the gut, so it would have stopped that. I never got COVID. I was certainly exposed to it five or six times, but I was waiting to get it, just kind of to see what my response would be. My age and everything. I’m in a very bad age group dying from it.

Ari: Let people know how old you are.

Donna: 75 now, soon to be 76. Anyway, there’s just a lot of others, they supposedly, [unintelligible 00:38:00] said a long time ago that people eating fermented foods live longer, live better. I finally got a little gray in my hair, but I was 74 and then my skin doesn’t have wrinkles in it and most of all, the main thing I kind of judge is how I move. I see people in their 70s and they are sort of shuffling and they kind of look like they’re in pain somewhere. I don’t have any of that, and I totally contribute it to the clean diet that I’ve been promoting for years and these fermented foods and actually colon therapy.

I think getting toxins out of your body at the right time is another important thing. I didn’t know years ago, that that wouldn’t be a benefit, that I’d age better, so fortunately. Another thing too, this is important. Lactobacillus, which is in your fermented vegetables, most of all, that’s the predominant bacteria in the many different species, but they’ve got research on how the Streptococcus mutans, which is this bacteria that is in your mouth, Lactobacillus prevents that bacteria from forming biofilms plaque, which is what biofilms are, and preventing cavities from forming.

That’s another good thing is that I haven’t had cavities and I don’t remember, I guess I was in my 20s last time I got them, and I kind of think, “I’m probably going to need new teeth and something.” Every time I go to the dentist but they never find anything. Lactobacillus is a biofilm pasture, you don’t see biofilms forming, but that is what they’re doing in your gut as well as your mouth, so really when you’re eating them, you can make them so they have more juice in them. You can make sure that you chew them around in your mouth and get them on your gums and on your teeth as a protection. Then the other thing is in Korea, for example, where they really ate a lot of fermented foods and had almost no COVID problems, they used the juice of the kimchi, which is going to be a little hot and spicy, but they’ll put it in their nose to kill things in your nose like the staph infections and so on. A lot of the infections in your nose are bacteria or staph or something.

Immune boosting benefits of fermented foods

Ari: That’s super interesting because I’ve actually done that at one point and I didn’t realize anybody else had ever done that. The reason that I did it, and it is painful. [laughs] I can attest to that. The reason that I did it is because I read at one point, when I was struggling many years ago with what I thought was chronic sinus infections, and then I read that one of the things that is found in chronic sinusitis sufferers is low level– I believe this is what I read. Low levels of a particular bacterial species called, I want to say lactobacillus sakei.

Donna: Exactly. That’s what they put in there. That’s what’s in kimchi.

Ari: The source of that was kimchi. I sought out some kimchi and I started snorting it thinking that I’ll populate the nasal passageways with this particular species of bacteria. Anyway, I ended up discovering that it was actually a dairy allergy. I was consuming too much dairy at the time and I developed an intolerance to it, and so I was developing this chronic congestion and sore throat that I interpreted as a sinus infection, but it was actually just food intolerance from dairy. All the snorting of kimchi was all for nought anyway, but I do have some good experience snorting kimchi, nonetheless.

Donna: You could do it during a flu infection. If another one comes, and sure there’s one on the way, you can certainly do it. You don’t have to go with kimchi because that [unintelligible 00:42:08] is in fermented vegetables and you can make a milder batch, even just plain cabbage by itself with no spicy things like kimchi has chili pepper and all. You don’t have to put that in and still get the benefits.

Ari: Now you tell me, Donna. Where were you in my life six or seven years ago when I was snorting kimchi?

Donna: Even when you were 16, I’m thinking, oh my gosh, this is amazing. You were quite amazing at that young age.

Ari: That’s true. I guess you were in my life. I know I should have been interviewing you back then.

Donna: Were you doing podcasts back then?

Ari: No, I wasn’t. I think that was before my podcasting days.

Donna: You were in your learning phase, which everybody goes through.

Ari: I was teaching them, but I didn’t start podcasting yet. What do you do with people like the eight or nine-year-old version of Ari that needed to add five tablespoons of sugar to his glass of kefir to make it taste acceptable? What do you do with people that don’t enjoy the taste of these foods? Do you have any suggestions for them?

Donna: Well, for you, I would have said, “Here, let me squeeze, a couple of drops of stevia and some vanilla flavoring,” or even your favorite juice, whatever, and that would have started you on the way and on the path. Because when you start eating them, you start to develop a taste for them. Interestingly enough, you were talking about the Turks, they like the sour taste. Well in Russia, by the time a baby’s four months old, they began giving him milk kefir, which they dilute. Actually really is a good idea to always dilute the kefir, the dairy products. It’s easier to digest if you do that. By the time they’re in school, every child in Russia gets a glass of kefir for breakfast if they want. They don’t force it on them.

They have these kitchens over there that if a woman’s pregnant or nursing, she can go in and get free kefir, but you can also make it. It’s super easy to make. I like for people to make it because it’s very fresh if you just make it at home and it’s almost fail-proof to put the [unintelligible 00:44:16] milk or the coconut water, put the starter in. I would say that, so there’s a lot of kids that like pickles, like McDonald’s has a pickle on top of the burger, so I would just say, “Look, you know they’re good for you. Just add a scoop.” One scoop on top of your meat or whatever you’re eating, especially beef and those more like a bison and beef and lamb.

They’re really good. Within four or five days, you would start liking them. Actually what happens is you start to eat them and then you feel like, well, something– if you don’t eat them then your mind says, “I’m missing something. Oh yes, I didn’t have any fermented vegetables.” Then you go get some. They’re a fantastic antidote, like let’s say you go to a party. Oh, that’s another thing that they do. Let’s say you go out and you drink alcohol. They prevent alcohol-induced damage to the liver and to the gut lining.

Let’s say you go out and you eat something or drink something you’re not supposed to, you just come home and have something fermented like the coconut kefir or the fermented vegetables, a couple of spoonfuls of that, and that’s like an antidote to having just done something you’re now regretting. Also if you eat something you think, “Okay, I just have to have this piece of cake or this muffin or something.” You eat the muffin and then you have a little bit of, say, fermented vegetables afterwards. The microbes in your stomach with that muffin, and they’re just going to eat up that sugar, so it’s an important antidote. If I were your mom, I would– Were you already at that age, like one of those people that was looking to be healthier, even as a little kid?

Ari: Well, without getting too detailed, the answer is yes and no. I was a kid who wanted nothing more than to eat Captain Crunch and cinnamon toast crunch and frosted flakes and Pop-Tarts all day, and ice cream and pizza and burritos and French fries. Kids will be kids, but I did grow up with parents who were on the forefront of being healthy. They were, I would say, in probably the first generation of Americans to be health conscious and to be shopping at natural health food stores. There was like one in all of San Diego at that time.

Some of my earliest memories, when I was five or six years old, are going to the health food store. In particular, the honey dispenser. I used to go under the honey dispenser and consume some honey that way, and the almond butter and peanut butter dispensers and that sort of thing, and wheat grass and vegetable juicing. I was exposed to all of that stuff from a very early age because my parents were health conscious, because my parents actually had fertility struggles. Then they went to see a guy in Del Mar, San Diego actually who I’ve had on the podcast, who was their physician, who then became my childhood physician. His name is Dr. Barnet Meltzer.

He actually died recently in an accident. May he rest in peace. He was a great guy who became a friend to me. He was a lifelong friend of mine and somebody, like I said, I had on this podcast. Basically, Dr. Meltzer was one of the first preventive medicine physicians in the United States. He’d been doing it since the 1960s and then he became my parents’ physician. I was indoctrinated into the health foodstuff from a very early age but, like I said, I would have been very happy to consume pizza and Pop-Tarts and cinnamon toast crunch all day, so I wasn’t looking to be healthy.

Donna: Well, what happens is you get sick when you do that and you reach a point in your life where you’re thinking, “I got to do something. I have no choice now.” That’s what happened to me. I had no choice. I feel sorry. I understand because of course I want my kids, particularly that now they have kids, I want them to not vaccinate their kids. If they’re going to do it, wait a while. Feed them. Don’t feed them sugar and get them addicted. Eat healthy things, eat fermented foods. It’s really, really hard for them because they didn’t grow up that way.

I try to imagine somebody standing at the bottom of a mountain and you’re telling them at the top of the mountain there’s the answer to what– so they need to do that, climb that mountain and do that. It’s just too much for them, but I’ve noticed that over time, if you start to set a good example and the information is out there, they’ll, for different reasons, either they’ll have a child who’s not talking as soon as the other kids are. Something will motivate them to cut out the sugar and start to add other things.

I had my first little guy, Charlie, he just turned three, but he was crazy about pickles at first. Every day he had a big pickle and they were so excited, I was really excited, but then he found sugar and then he won’t touch pickles. Hopefully, he’ll come back to it. The earlier you start your kids off with that sour taste, the better because they don’t really want sugar then. Honestly, they don’t. Kids, as they go along when they go off to a birthday party, everybody’s eating the cake and whatever else. They might eat a piece or two, and this is what parents have told me. They’ll eat a piece or two but they don’t really like it that much. It’s too sweet for them, so start early.

Ari: For sure. Starting early is a big key. With my kids, we got them used to eating salmon roe, salmon eggs, ikura,-

Donna: Wow, that’s very [unintelligible 00:50:24]

Ari: -and liver, chicken and beef liver, from an extremely early age. These are foods that an older kid would be totally grossed out on, but we got them eating that stuff from the time they were babies so they learned to like it. For sure, that’s a major key.

Donna: Wow. Did you mix it? Did you prepare it in a way with a lot of onions to make it sweeter, or how did you get them to do that? I’m sure a lot of people are wondering.

Ari: I have to ask my wife. I don’t remember.

Donna: Sally Fallon has a formula for babies that [inaudible 00:50:56]

Ari: My wife was following Sally Fallon’s cookbook for some of those recipes, for sure. Those recommendations of those two foods came from Sally Fallon.

Donna: Sally was also, in that book, very much promoting fermented foods, but her role really, and I think she deserves a special award for this actually, a Nobel Prize or something. We didn’t have any raw dairy in this country anymore. She led an amazing movement, and I was a part of that movement in the beginning and would lecture at the conferences and all and so I watched the fight. How she helped farmers go from the bad milk to the good milk, and all the Amish farmers she supported. I watched her create that.

She didn’t really have time to promote the fermented vegetables, so I was out there doing that, basically. If you read her book and followed her work you would have understood already they were important. That they were ancient foods and people lived off of them.

Why you shouldn't consume fermented foods

Ari: Absolutely. Are there any people who should not consume fermented foods? There’s some people who seem to react negatively to them. I know histamine is an issue. What are your thoughts on that?

Donna: If you’ve got SIBO, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, just microbes in the small intestine producing histamine, and you eat the fermented foods, it’s almost a diagnosis that– and you have a reaction like a lot of gas and bloating. It’s almost a diagnosis there’s something wrong in the small intestine.

What I tell people is, “Don’t eat them yet, but handle that condition. Get rid of that bacterial overgrowth, that fungal overgrowth.” There’s fantastic people out there teaching you how to do that. Focus on that for probably about three months. I think it’s a really good idea to look up the FODMAP foods, that’s Monash University over in Australia identified certain foods that cause gas and bloating. Look those up and avoid those also for a couple of months. That’ll bring the gas and bloating down. Then start working on the problem in the small intestine.

Then many people, the problem is better and have it under control, and then it comes back. That’s because a lot of these people, these experts, they are not explaining the importance of establishing the inner ecosystem in the large intestine, which are going to control the SIBO, these bacteria from moving back up into the small intestine or whatever.

It’s really important to begin to introduce, and the first one to introduce are the fermented vegetables, because lactobacillus plantarum degrades histamine. That’s the safe one to start on, in small amounts at the right time, and then start to focus on your inner ecosystem in the colon so you can protect yourself from the SIBO.

Ari: Got it. How much of these fermented foods should people be consuming? Should it be consumed some kimchi one time per week? Should it be consumed one time per day? With every meal? What are your recommendations on that?

Donna: I think that at least with your main meals. Let’s say that you do time-restricted feeding and you have your first big meal at noon or at eleven o’clock or something, maybe just eggs. I’ve had so many people over the years tell me they couldn’t digest eggs until they added a spoonful of fermented vegetables on the plate, and they had no problem digesting them, because they definitely help you digest protein. Just a spoonful helps, but let’s say for a bigger meal and you put a couple of tablespoons on the plate. That’s plenty.

Now, some people don’t want to do that. I found a company over in Australia, and for years I’ve been bringing a special probiotic liquid over for people. It’s a probiotic. I actually have a bottle of it right here. This is [unintelligible 00:55:17] We have one with coconut, fermented on coconut milk. What it is is we have ginger and lemon juice, but we bring in seeds like millet, and flaxseed, and quinoa and also rice, and lentils, and chickpeas.

These plants, when they’re growing in the field, every single piece of millet, every single piece of quinoa, has its own unique microbiome that it’s created from nature. You bring these in and you culture them and then that’s what becomes the base for these fermented liquids. Just three ounces of something like that with your meal. I’ll just take three ounces and put it in a miniature wine glass and people just chug that down with their meal, it’s doing the same thing.

They’re very sour too, but you adjust to the taste, but you can put them in things. Of course, you can put the Stevia or some sweetener. We have a sweetener that I like called BE Sweet, but you can put some in your smoothie in the morning. It’s just an incredibly powerful probiotic, but also what makes it really special is the diversity.

We can’t even tell people what’s in this, because every single time it’s made, there’s different– every grain of quinoa, like I said, will have a different microbiome, and so there’s no way to identify them, but diversity is the key to a healthy gut. That’s quite well accepted today. That’s why the fermented foods, fermented vegetables, have that diversity. It really makes these at the top of the list of the fermented foods to start with.

Another thing you can do, you can put things on the fermented vegetables, for example, salad dressing, olive oil, avocado oil. Because to make a salad dressing you take something sour like lemon or apple cider vinegar, you put an oil on there and a little bit of salt, and all of a sudden it tastes good. I highly recommend doing that. You can put mayonnaise into them too.

It seems like when we cut that sour taste, that sharpness, people have no problem with them. If you’re making something like a sandwich, put them on the sandwich. It will help you digest that bread anyway, a tortilla or something, a thing like that that you’re eating. It just makes everything healthier.

Lectins, oxalates, and phytates

Ari: You’ve mentioned oxalates and phytates. I forget, I think you mentioned–

Donna: Lectins.

Ari: Lectins.

Donna: Dr. Gundry talking about lectins.

Ari: I actually just interviewed some researchers, a world-class nutrition researcher who spent a lot of time evaluating Gundry’s works and claims around lectins and the scientific basis for them. They do it in a very rigorously scientific way. It’s a company called Red Pen Reviews, a nonprofit organization.

I would say, to make a very long discussion condensed, the claims that lectins are a major contributor to human disease are extremely overblown. Yes, if you feed somebody raw kidney beans or something like that in large amounts, you will get a very clearly toxic effect from lectins, but if one is cooking their beans or their lentils or these other foods that are rich in lectins, there really doesn’t seem to be any compelling evidence that lectins are a major contributor to human disease.

There is maybe some case that certain people who are sensitive consuming certain foods might be reacting in a negative way, but I think that the case for lectins as a major contributor to human disease is greatly overblown. I don’t think that we have epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, due to people consuming too much vegetables and beans. I think we have very good scientific explanations to know what are the major nutritional contributors to those conditions, and I don’t think there’s a compelling case that lectins are one of them.

Donna: I agree with you 100%. I watched all that, people going crazy over lectins, but even with oxalates. The oxalates are a problem if you don’t have the microbe in your gut, particularly Oxalobacter formigenes. It’s a microbe that’s wiped out by an antibiotic, I took an antibiotic so long that I am very sensitive to oxalates because I don’t have that bacteria and there’s no way to get it back. It seems to be coming around. I try to always get to the bottom of things. It seems to enter the gut, babies don’t have it but around the time we start crawling– maybe we shouldn’t be out there crawling again or something. Anyway, it disappears forever. It’s one of those missing microbes and it’s a really important one because vegetables have oxalates in them, and some foods are incredibly high.

Seeds and nuts, not even all the seeds and nuts, because macadamia is low, flax is low, cheese [unintelligible 01:00:43] Brie, almonds, cashews which everybody’s eating are super high in oxalates. A lot of vegetables like sweet potatoes and chocolate is super high. Soybeans are super high. We’re getting a lot of these foods with oxalates in them and people don’t know and they end up with a lot of pain in their body. That’s probably the first thing they cause. I first learned about them in working with autistic kids years ago because they were incredibly sensitive to oxalates. They lacked the Oxalobactor they’ll often have a history of antibiotics, and not all of them but some of them really strongly reacted to certain foods.

Susan Owen was a researcher at that time, and she really jumped on top of this. Julie Matthews and I were involved in that too. We learned early on about the dangers of oxalates. Anyway, the thing about them is when you ferment the vegetables, you really do get rid of the oxalates. They are damaging. I think all those conditions that people are reacting to, if we had a really healthy, strong robust microbiome, they would take– if you had Oxalobactor formigene he wouldn’t be reacting to the oxalates. Now there are other bacteria Bifidus for example, that try to take over and eat the oxalates but none of them do anywhere near the job that one bacteria does.

His only job is to eat oxalates and then he’s gone forever. To me, that’s a sign, reacting to oxalates, reacting to Lectins, then of course, phytic acid it really is important to soak. Traditionally people always soaked their grains and they fermented them too. I actually wanted to bring that up, because I watch how grains have been demonized in the Paleo world. Even myself, I tell people don’t eat them, just eat quinoa and millet for example, but they’re very high in oxalates. I would rather have people eat them with fermented vegetables, or what you can really do is boil the quinoa, boil the millet for about 12 minutes, 15 minutes and then drain that water and then you’re getting rid of a lot of those oxides to do that.

Eat some fermented vegetables in that meal or a little bit of one of these drinks, and now you won’t have that reaction to the oxalate. They cause pain. In the autism community, many of the parents would do this. They go gluten-free and casein-free because that was a big step. Then they would want the kids to still have pancakes and kid foods. Cakes and cupcakes and things like that. They would go to a CD or [unintelligible 01:03:34] and they would have all these almond flour pancakes, and that’s true now. The gluten-free world is full of delicious recipes with almond flour. It’s a great thing to bake with, except that a large number of them started having severe reactions and then Great Plains will test for oxalates.

Dr. Shah, he was very involved in those days we were having these meetings, a lot of practitioners and parents came. He was right on top of it and they have had several children, I mean several dozen children. He told me that in an interview we did together, literally claw their eyes out because the one place that you get pain from the oxalates is the eye. It can be very serious, so that one I think is important. Phytic acid, they do bind your minerals so soaking, sprouting, and all over the world, particularly in countries like Africa, they ferment everything.

They soak but they also ferment and I know I was talking to earlier about this, but Dr. Jeffrey Bland has his buckwheat flour. I of course think he’s an amazing person and got some and was concerned because buckwheat is so high in oxalate. I kept trying to make things like zucchini bread or something. I figured something out to do. I would take the flour, then I would soak it, I mean, I’d cover it in a little bit of this actually, the [unintelligible 01:05:15] and then I would let it stay there for about 48 hours so that the bacteria can eat up the oxalates. Then I made it into the zucchini bread or the muffins or whatever, and no problem. A lot of times there are ways around anything.

Ari: Interesting. You actually anticipated the question that I was going to ask you, which was about oxalates, and oxalobacter and you answered it beautifully. It’s interesting to me as I’ve studied in depth, and gut health, and I was just blessed enough to take a wonderful course with one of the world’s top gut health experts, a guy named Dr. Jason Hawrelack. He presented research in a couple of the lectures about how consuming certain foods in the diet causes bacteria in the gut to expand in numbers, to grow in numbers hugely in response to that.

For example, if you consume a lot of dried fruit that are covered in sulfates, you get large increases in sulfate metabolizing bacteria. I think it’s desulfovibrio or something like that. I might be misremembering what species of bacteria. It also stuck out to me what you just spoke about, how when you consume lots of foods rich in oxalates, then you get this species of bacteria Oxalobacter formigenes that grows in numbers hugely to metabolize all these oxalates so that they don’t become toxic to the body. But to your point, if it’s been wiped out, it’s been wiped out and you don’t get that effect. Then in those people, then you do have a concern about oxalate toxicity. That was super interesting.

Donna: I found this study where they fed groups of mice Chow, and one group, they kept feeding them more and more high oxalate Chow. The more they fed them, the more the oxalobacter grew to eat that Chow but the other group over here, they didn’t do that to them. I just thought it was interesting that if we have the bacteria present, and we eat foods with– because we’re basically feeding oxalobacter what he wants to eat. If he’s not there, then that’s where the problem comes in. You reminded me of a study that, you’re mentioning, Jason Harlock. I actually use subscribed to his– I don’t know what you call it but his research [unintelligible 01:07:54]

The Sonnenbergs are up in Stanford, and they both, Erica and– what’s the man’s name? I forget but they’re very well known. They’ve written a book and everything but it was really interesting because– Justin Sonnenberg, that’s it. They took, and also with another researcher Christopher Garner, and they took two groups of people and one group got a lot of fiber in their diet from vegetables and then the other group– so the one group got a high-fiber diet rich in legumes, seeds, whole grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits. Then the other group got fermented foods. In the end, they found out that the group that had the healthiest microbiome were not the high fiber group, but the ones that ate the fermented vegetables, which was a big finding. It didn’t come out. I do have some papers on it.

I even went to their website. It’s kind of hard to find that study. It was actually a big finding that we’re telling everybody to eat a whole lot of, eat all these vegetables, but you need both really too. It says, “The consumption of fermented foods can help with weight maintenance and may decrease the risk of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.” But they didn’t find that in the vegetable group.

Ari: Fascinating. Donna, this has been wonderful. I’ve really enjoyed having you on. Is there anything that you want to add? I know going into this podcast, you went deep into the research wanting to talk about some new stuff and I know that you even had a list. I hear you shuffling through your papers there of all your notes. You had a list of all the new stuff that you wanted to bring to the table for this podcast. Is there anything else that we missed that you want to make sure to mention before we wrap up?

Donna: No, I think you let me cover it all. [chuckles] I was so nervous in the beginning, because I’m thinking, “Oh my God, there’s so much to tell people.” You can probably tell I was really nervous, but you’re so cool, calm and collected. Thank you very much for having me on and being able to get this information out.

I’m hoping practitioners, because I know a lot of them follow you, begin to really have a better appreciation for fermented foods, because I really want to help people heal and build that immune system. You need to add these foods to your diet at the right time for the right people.

How ammonia affects health

Ari: Absolutely. Donna, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with my audience, for wanting to come back on the show, and for doing all this prep work to bring all of this new stuff to the table to let people know about. Yes, go ahead.

Donna: I know you’re wrapping up and you just made me think of something. The last time we were talking about ammonia and so that’s another important thing because ammonia’s a really bad toxin. It’s produced by the fact that we don’t process protein and look how many of us are eating protein.

The protein doesn’t get digested. It gets down into the gut and it creates ammonia, which is very damaging to the liver, to the mitochondria, to the brain, to the mitochondria in the brain. Ammonia’s a bad actor. That’s another really important reason for eating the fermented foods, because it negates that ammonia that’s damaging the brain.

Ari: Interesting. Thank you for adding that. That’s an important layer and especially because I am an advocate of higher protein diet, so that’s a wonderful addition.

Donna: Me too. When I’m really in a hurry, I have a piece of protein and a couple scoops of fermented vegetables and I have a meal, but I’m a blood type A. They tend to lose stomach acid early and not digest protein. That’s sort of a fail safe thing I have to do, but when I found that about ammonia, I was really excited, because ammonia is bad.

Ari: Beautiful. Thank you for adding that. Thank you so much Donna, for the work that you do. This is really great stuff. I really enjoyed this discussion and thank you more broadly for doing this, being at it for such a long time. Since I was literally a kid following your work.

You inspired me to first dabble in fermented foods 20 years ago and work to improve my health as I was a teenager, struggling with my acne, looking to get girls by solving my skin disaster. I’m very appreciative of your work and have been for a very long time and it’s a pleasure and an honor to be interviewing you now 20 plus years after I first read your book. Thank you so much.

Donna: It’s an honor to be on here, Ari, because I have been subscribing to your website or your podcast for years now. You’re just a great interviewer, great topics. Thank you for what you’re doing and thank you for having me on.

Ari: Thank you so much my friend. I look forward to another chat sometime soon.

Donna: Great.

Show Notes

Intro (0:06:25)
What are fermented foods? (05:50)
How fermented foods affect human health (07:27)
Kefir – how to get the most beneficial version (16:14)
Donna’s favorite fermented foods (20:20)
The benefits of coconut water kefir (27:00)
Benefits of consuming fermented foods while being on antibiotics (35:30)
Immune boosting benefits of fermented foods (40:30)
Why shouldn’t you consume fermented foods? (52:05)
Lectins, oxalates, and phytates (58:00)
How ammonia affects health (1:10:38)

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