Sauerkraut and Gut Health
As time goes on, we hear more and more about the importance of improving our gut health and there are many reasons why it is so necessary! Here in the United States, we consume what is considered a more traditional “western diet”. This is a diet high in fats, sodium, sugars, processed foods, etc. When these foods are consumed for long periods of time, it begins to attack the healthy bacteria in our gut! This causes bloating, irritation, pain and can lead to conditions such as leaky gut syndrome or worsen underlying health issues. That said, it is important we know how to counteract the side effects. With an influx of information available at the touch of our fingertips, it can be difficult to know just where to start.
Let us begin with the question at hand. What does it mean to improve our gut health and how do we do it? Popular trends such as green powders, lemon water, apple cider vinegar, supplements, etc are dominating the conversation. However, what if I told you the answer was much more simple? Although these options sound appealing, the only thing they have in common is their ability to decrease inflammation over time, which helps to lessen bloating.
In essence, a large part of healing your gut means diversifying its bacteria and a great way to do that is by consuming fermented foods. A great food to start incorporating into your diet is sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is finely cut raw cabbage that has been fermented in lactic acid bacteria often giving it a very distinctive sour taste. It is no secret that hearing the word sauerkraut is bound to make most people wince given its negative reputation for its taste.
Despite its unappealing description, this vitamin-rich food can do wonders for your health including but not limited to improving gut health due to bacteria created during the fermentation process, strengthening your immune system, improving digestion and decreasing your risk of certain diseases. Fermented foods are best known for containing probiotics. Consuming probiotics help reduce gas, bloating, diarrhea and help aid many symptoms of certain chronic illnesses such as Crohn’s disease.
The benefits of consuming sauerkraut can be traced back centuries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Romans recorded many benefits to consuming fermented cabbage, such as helping clear cloudy eyes, getting rid of headaches, aiding alcohol overconsumption, and counteracting scurvy.
Sauerkraut is both a beneficial and fairly inexpensive way to begin your gut health journey. To make basic sauerkraut you will need:
- 1 medium green cabbage
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of non-iodized salt
- 2–3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional for optimized flavor)
However, it is important to note that too much of anything can have negative effects. That being said, most benefits were seen in individuals that consumed sauerkraut in small quantities (7g to 10 g daily). Additionally, individuals who are considered immunocompromised should be cautious when consuming fermented foods and certain probiotics due to an increased risk of developing certain infections that come with bacteria-concentrated properties in foods such as sauerkraut.
When making any changes to your diet, it is best to consult with your doctor first to discuss what is best for your personal body chemistry. What can work for some, does not work for all! No better way to begin your health journey than by booking an initial nutrition consultation here at Naturna! For more information on how to eat to optimize your health, hormones, and happiness, check out our nutritional services here: https://naturnalife.com/services/nutrition-at-naturna/
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MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Probiotics: Possible side effects and how to take them safely. Medical News Today. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323821
Petre, A. (2020, March 13). 8 surprising benefits of sauerkraut (plus how to make it). Healthline. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-sauerkraut#How-to-make-sauerkraut
Raak, C., Ostermann, T., Boehm, K., & Molsberger, F. (2014, November). Regular consumption of sauerkraut and its effect on human health: A Bibliometric analysis. Global advances in health and medicine. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4268643/