The gut microbiome is a big focus for for overall health. In recent years functional medicine doctors and practitioners discovered that many aliments can be reversed or cured through treating the gut.
One question to ask: What does our gut microbiome thrive on? Although it does vary some from person to person, one thing is for sure, fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented foods IMPROVE and AID the gut biome.
Why is homemade sauerkraut better for you? Store bought sauerkraut is often posterized which kills the beneficial bacteria that your gut loves. This bacteria is created during the fermentation process which we will read about below.
Homemade sauerkraut produces billions of good bacteria. This bacteria is still present and alive when we eat it and this offers great benefits to our gut.
Fermentation process: Fermentation is a natural process through which microorganisms like yeast and bacteria convert carbs — such as starch and sugar — into alcohol or acids.
The alcohol or acids act as a natural preservative and give fermented foods a distinct zest and tartness. Fermentation also promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics. Probiotics have been shown to improve immune function as well as digestive and heart health.
Spicy Sauerkraut 101
2 32oz Mason Jars
1 Head of Cabbage
2 Tbsp of Salt
1 Tsp Paprika
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tsp Chili Powder
2-4 Cloves Minced Garlic (to taste)
1 Tsp Minced Ginger (to taste)
1. Gather all ingredients
2. Slice the cabbage - Remove the outer leaves, slice the cabbage into quarters and remove core for easier handling. Then, slice the cabbage into very thin ribbons.
3. Mix Spices - Salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili Powder, mince garlic and ginger.
4. Add Spices to Cabbage - Place the thinly sliced cabbage into a large bowl and sprinkle mixed spices over it. kneed and squash the cabbage/spices with your hands for about 10 minutes. At first it won't seem like it's doing much, but be patient. After a few minutes the cabbage will start releasing liquid/brine and by the end there should be enough liquid/brine to cover the cabbage
5. Transfer Cabbage to Fermentation Vessel - Stuff the cabbage very tightly into the mason jars. Pour any liquid into the jar that was in the bowl. If needed add just enough water/brine to cover the cabbage. If the cabbage is fresh there shouldn't be any need for added water.
6. Let It Ferment - Now it's time to practice patience! Store on a dark, room temperature shelf. Fermentation will begin within a day and will continue for 3 weeks. For mild flavor use after 1 week. For a stronger flavor wait 2-3 weeks.
Sauerkraut Health Benefits
Now that you’ve made some delicious kraut, you get to enjoy its many benefits. Sure, it’s delicious, but it also has some other nutritional benefits:
If high quality probiotics aren’t in the budget, just make some sauerkraut. It contains billions of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria. Probiotics are thought to be beneficial in supporting the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. Some studies even indicate that probiotics and gut health are important for mental health, digestive health, and proper immune function.
Vitamins B & C
Cabbage is a natural source of B vitamins and vitamin C. The process of fermentation increases the availability of these nutrients, potentially making sauerkraut more nutritious that the original cabbage itself.
Good for Digestion
Sauerkraut is included in protocols like the GAPS diet to seal and heal the gut. Many people report that sauerkraut soothes and helps improve their digestion.
Sauerkraut is a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are well-studied for their benefits to the eyes.