Fermented by LAB was founded by Alana Holloway who first started fermenting in 2011 when she learned how to manage her chronic full body eczema - without medication - by nurturing a healthier gut.
Having experienced the countless health benefits associated with eating fermented foods, Alana was drawn to the idea of encouraging others to try it for themselves, and began teaching her techniques in workshops and sharing her recipes.
Alana how long have you had eczema? I’ve had eczema since I was a baby… my mum jokes that I practically came out of the womb scratching! It then came and went throughout my life.
How long did it take you to explore alternative solutions and what triggered this? It wasn’t until I developed TSW (Topical Steroid Withdrawal) in my early twenties that I really began to explore alternative, more natural ways of managing my eczema. Despite being heavily into holistic health throughout my adult life, my eczema (as an adult) never really bothered me enough for me to look into a long-term solution. That all changed due to the unbearable nature of TSW.
What changes to your diet had the biggest impact on your skin? I would have to say the inclusion of fermented plant-based foods, daily, has had the biggest impact. My digestion has never been great but when I started eating more fermented and plant-based foods, my digestion really improved, which in turn had a positive effect on my skin.
Outside of fermentation what could your skin not live without? If I had to list only one thing, I’d have to say a natural moisturiser. Eczema is an auto-immune condition and I will therefore always have underlying ‘atopic’ skin. It is prone to dryness and so I use natural, organic oils and homemade balms to counteract that.
Are there any other complimentary therapies or additional supplements that have made a big difference to your skin? Plenty! As with any chronic health condition, skin conditions aren’t managed solely by diet. Sleep, stress management/reduction, exercise/movement and environment all play their part. I find yoga and daily meditation really help to manage inevitable stress and I absolutely love acupuncture.
Tell us about Fermented by LAB? Fermented by LAB was an idea that came to me whilst cooking on a yoga retreat. I had come through the other side of TSW after discovering fermented foods and learning to nurture my gut and was teaching fermentation workshops as a way of spreading the message. However, I wanted to reach more people. I wanted everybody to experience the health benefits associated with eating fermented foods, not just the ones who could make it to see me. In a nutshell, FBL delivers artisan, seasonal, organic ferments to doorsteps throughout the UK. We ferment in small batches with ingredients that are chosen not only for their flavour and seasonality, but for their therapeutic properties, too. We hate food waste and love experimenting with new ways to reduce our impact on the planet.
Do you find certain fabrics irritate your skin more than others? Absolutely. I try to wear natural fabrics where possible. Cotton is always a winner. Silk bedsheets are extremely soft so great for anyone with dry skin or curly hair (of which I have both!) Wool and cashmere are great in the winter as they’re really breathable. It may be more expensive to buy natural fabrics but I just try to invest in quality pieces (or buy from charity shops) that will last the test of time.
If we are trying fermentation at home what spices would you encourage us to use? Oooh that’s a tricky one!! The standard spice to use in sauerkraut is caraway, which is lovely but just the beginning! I think I would just suggest thinking of your favourite cuisine, identifying what spices are used and then experimenting with them. We all have different tastes and preferences and I think it’s so important that we really look forward to what we eat.
Thank you Alana!
Find out more about Alana and Fermented Lab via her website here.