The Learning Centre


Nutritionist Gives Thumbs Up to a Little Bubbly this Holiday Season

By Lisa Kilgour

That’s right, a little fermentation in your cup o’ cheer may be just the thing to keep you happy, healthy and wise this December, says Lisa Kilgour, Okanagan-based registered holistic nutritionist and blogger at

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said all disease begins in the gut.  Therefore, in order to be healthy we need to have a healthy gut. Unfortunately what we tend to consume during the holidays is often anything but healthy for the tummy. And that’s where the bubbly, aka fermented foods, come in.

Fermentation is your nutritional front line of defence. But you will need to stretch beyond just micro-brewed beer and wine to include foods like kimchi, kombucha and kefir.

Fermented foods and beverages help increase the friendly bacteria in your gut and that helps with:

  1. Immunity – over 80% of your immune system is in your gut.  Fermented foods provide a host of beneficial bacteria in the stomach, helping to protect the body from harmful bacteria.
  2. Less Bloating, digestive complaints – as foods ferment their cellular structure breaks down allowing for easier digestion and making it easier for our bodies to absorb their nutrients. That means a flatter tummy too, which is great for little black dress season.
  3. Beautiful skin – fermented foods help to detoxify the body. The beneficial bacteria grab a hold of toxic materials and help flush them out of the system. That means glowing skin for you.
  4. Mental health – the gut has been referred to as the ‘second brain.’ Over 80% of the serotonin in our bodies is made in our gut. Hence the phrases “what’s your gut feeling” or “Trust your gut”. Healthy gut bacteria will help you deal with stress better, think clearer and rest better.

So how does one incorporate fermented foods into holiday fare?

  1. Sparkling beverage – try kombucha in a martini glass. It comes in a variety of flavours and makes a great alcohol-free cocktail.
  2. Having eggs for breakfast? Try a tablespoon of kimchi with your eggs.
  3. Easy appetizer. Slice sausage links and serve with sauerkraut and mustard (be sure to only purchase sauerkraut that is in the refrigerator section).
  4. Remember that a little goes a long way. Fermented foods in condiment portions are enough to get those good bacteria growing.
  5. Ferment your cranberry relish this year. (recipe below)
  6. Extra hectic day? Look for a supplement like greens+ whole body NUTRITION, which contains a fermented blend of botanicals rich in protein, essential fats and phytonutrients. It will give you the clear mind and sustained energy to get through your day. Try it in super charged pesto. (recipe below)

Lisa Kilgour has 10 years of experience in health and nutrition, and is a Board Certified in Practical Holistic Nutrition through CAHN-PRO. In the fall of 2010 she was voted “BC’s Favourite Nutritionist” She is currently the nutritionist at InspireHealth Integrative Cancer Care Centre’s Kelowna location. She loves to help people find that foods that make them feel and operate at their best.


Fermented Cranberry Relish

3 cups raw cranberries
1 large organic navel orange, chopped into large sections (including skin)
1/2 cup nuts, soaked overnight
10 dates
1/2 – 3/4 cup fresh squeezed juice of your choice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp lemon juice & 2 tsp Celtic salt

Process the cranberries, nuts, dates and orange sections in the food processor until they’re in small chunks.  Stir in the 1/2 c. of juice, salt, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Place in a large mason jar. Press down on the mixture so liquid is on top. Add the 2 tsp of Celtic salt. Cover and set on counter for 2 days to ferment then refrigerate. Will keep in refrigerator for 2-3 days.