03/03/2014 10:27 GMT | Updated 30/04/2014 06:59 BST

Becoming Cultured

In recent months, I think that I've become more cultured. I haven't been to the opera or the ballet (unless of course seeing Billy Elliot in the West End counts). I have however become a little more knowledgeable and indeed started eating cultured vegetables, and drinking kefir.

If you are from Eastern Europe you will be well aware of the benefits of Sauerkraut and fermented milk but if you are from good ol' Blighty it's likely that the closest you've got to enjoying this beneficial bacteria is from eating pickles at Christmas and having the odd slice of blue cheese. However, a recently published book may change all of this.

'Cultured Food for life - How to make and serve delicious probiotic foods for better health and wellness' by Donna Schwenk has been published by Hay House. It knocks on its head the understanding that pickles can be bad for us and that only raw and fresh is ever good when it comes to our veggies. According the book, fermentation provides abundant vitamins, minerals and healthy bacteria and has been used by humans for thousands of years for nutritional, holistic health. This revelation has been corroborated by my own independent investigation into the field!

New research from Cambridge University suggests that eating fermented yoghurt, fromage frais and cheese regularly could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

We all know about the importance of probiotics and finally we're becoming aware that bacteria are not the enemy. In fact our obsession with anti-bacterial cleaning and personal care products and overuse of anti-biotics is the real issue. Good health starts with the gut and we need a certain level of the good bugs to help with digestion, help us feel full and indeed help with immunity and help to reduce digestive problems.

Kefir is a type of fermented goats milk which originated in Russia and Eastern Europe. I was introduced to the wonders of goats milk Kefir by Shann Jones of Chuckling Goat, who has been drinking it for years. She recently cured her husband's life threatening MRSA by applying Kefir topically (mixed with a special blend of essential oils) and this has inspired a range of Probiotic skincare products.

So it's culture in the form of pickled cabbage all the way now for me, but I can't profess to actually doing the fermenting - I'm cheating and buying 'sparkling white cabbage' online. The kids shout 'it smells like wine' but I think it tastes great! I'm using the probiotic skin products, cleaning with probiotic cleaning fluid (also from Chuckling Goat) and about to try the fabulous recipes from Donna's book, I've yet to convince the kids of course but I'm ever hopeful that 'Kefir and Broccoli Sprouted Pizza' might do the trick!

Cultured Food for Life by Donna Schwenk is published by Hay House

For kefir, probiotic skincare and cleaning fluid -