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Oh Beans Gets the Glow: Week 4 – Sauerkraut and Liquorice

It has to be said, week four has probably been the hardest week of Madeleine’s challenge to stick to. We’ve not really managed to stay gluten free and probably haven’t had the best of the best when it comes to meat, but I have been able to follow some of  Madeleine’s beat the bloat advice, by getting in some sauerkraut and liquorice tea.

Here’s my round up of Week 4.

Summary of Week 4 – Beat the Bloat

Week 4 of Madeleine’s Get the Glow challenge asks you to ‘get acquainted with your gut’! I’ve only really started to realise quite how related the digestive system is to how well we feel. When your gut isn’t at it’s happiest, foods often aren’t fully digested and will partially end up in your bloodstream, putting strain on the liver and increasing stress levels on your overall body. To help balance out our digestive system, Madeleine (and others) suggest reducing the amount of gluten we eat (such as white bread, pasta, couscous etc.) and increasing good bacteria levels, protein levels, and by drinking bone broth.

This week, I’d hoped to reduce our gluten in-take (which I’d probably say didn’t happen thanks to the copious amounts of sourdough in the flat), increase our good bacteria levels (this I managed through sauerkraut), increase our protein (might have overdone the amount of eggs consumed! thanks to no oats in the flat and cooked breakies in Wales!) and soothed our stomachs (with liquorice and camomile tea).

Why have I found this week hard?

In terms of food and what we’ve been devouring, this has been a hard week to refrain from gluten and sugar, partly because Peter was away for a couple of nights at a conference which didn’t really cater for ‘Get the Glow’! and also because we were away this weekend in Snowdonia staying in a B&B, doing some tough walks. We had wanted to stop off at the supermarket before heading there to stock up on healthy snacks like bananas, dates and nuts, but the Friday morning traffic in Oxford got the better of us and so we were stuck with some not so great biscuits. By the end of the weekend, both of us could feel that we’d eaten too much processed stuff and couldn’t wait to get home to a home-made lentil lasagne (Deliciously Ella).

Why Sauerkraut and Liquorice?

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods such as sauerkraut (which is fermented cabbage in salt and water) help to restore balance in our gut through their probiotic-rich nature and help us to digest and absorb our food. For the past week, Peter and I have quite enjoyed a couple of tablespoons of this strange concept with our breakfasts and also dinners. It went particularly well with this Borlotti and Runner Beans with Sage and Tomato dish.

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According to this article in The Guardian…

Cabbage contains natural isothiocyanate compounds (such as sulforaphane), which have cancer-fighting properties. And as long as you choose the unpasteurised sort, sauerkraut is teeming with beneficial lactobacillus bacteria – more than is in live yoghurt – which increase the healthy flora in the intestinal tract. This helps the immune system fight infection, and aids digestion, hence sauerkraut’s venerable reputation as a remedy for upset stomach and constipation.

The only problem with the jar I bought from Tesco on my lunch break the other day, was that it was pasteurised, which means a lot of the good bacteria may have already been taken away by the time I came along. But, I figure it’s a good start until I can find the unpasteurised stuff or make it homemade with some Abel and Cole white cabbages.

This is also an interesting read.

Liquorice Root

I’ve always been a fan of liquorice… especially the Liquorice Allsorts kind (albeit I haven’t touched these in a long while!)..but I’ve never tried liquorice root tea. It had never occurred to me to try this type of cuppa, being a big lover of PG Tips! But seeing as Madeleine suggested to try it, I thought ‘oh what the hell’!

So why is the herb liquorice good for us? Well. Liquorice root has soothing properties which help to reduce inflammation and upset in our digestive systems helping to reduce the pain and discomfort. Scientists have found multiple healing substances within the root, including compounds called flavonoids and various plant estrogens (phytoestrogens). The herb contains glycyrrhizin, which is 50 times sweeter than sugar and which helps to prevent the breakdown of adrenal hormones such as cortisol (the body’s primary stress-fighting adrenal hormone), making these hormones more available for us.

I’ve also found that it helps to combat my sweet tooth if I crave something like chocolate in the evening. There are downsides to liquorice, it can interact with some medications and may also cause heart palpitations if you have too much.

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So what about week 5?

Week 5 is called ‘Rest and Digest’ and is all about reducing stress, eating mindfully and taking ‘me’ time. I’m very much looking forward to being conscious of chilling out, working out and being more mindful. Come back next week to see how I’ve got on!

Have you been doing Madeleine’s challenge? How’s it going?