Why You Should Defnitely Learn to Like Sauerkraut

sauerkrautA few months ago, I had a nasty enough bout with a yeast overgrowth in my gut.

I am still befuddled about why I got it in the first place, but there it was, and it took some time and concentration to kick it.

In the process, I befriended sauerkraut, (and other fermented foods, but mostly sauerkraut.)  It’s never been a favorite food of mine, but as we get more acquainted, enjoy each other’s company more regularly, I’m becoming a Class A fan.

So, what’s the deal here?

 Sauerkraut is essentially just pickled cabbage, with or without the benefit of other vegetables like beets, cauliflower, onions, turnips, tomatoes, to name a few.

It tastes tart. It can be eaten alone or used in sauces, salads, and wraps.  While this traditional German food tends to bring to mind beer festivals, it is actually being called a “superfood” these days, especially by people understanding the importance of a good digestive system as the centerpiece of all health.

There are many health benefits associated with sauerkraut, including improved digestive health, heart health, energy-boosting, immune system support, bone support, and even protection against certain cancers. 

Sauerkraut has excellent anti-cancer properties. Some studies have concluded that the fermentation of cabbage and other food creates certain compounds that prevent cancer growth.  Those foods are packed with good bacteria, the kind that transforms fiber into a fatty acid known as butyrate which is, according to some scientists at the European Laboratory for the Investigation of Food Induced Diseases, a powerful weapon in the anti-cancer arsenal. These same scientists claim that butyrate can protect against colon cancer.

Sauerkraut is an Energy-Booster.  It is chock-full of iron, which helps your body increase its energy production by revving up metabolism and increasing circulation.  Metabolism is important to energy, and with improved circulation, your organs and cells receive higher amounts of oxygen.  Additionally, these high iron levels are a key component of anemia prevention.

Sauerkraut will make your digestive system very happy, for sure. This was the reason I first began to pursue a relationship with sauerkraut — to help heal my gut from the yeast overgrowth.  Its probiotic content assists with digestion as well as helping to maintain a healthy digestive tract.  The live bacteria rivals and even out performs the pricey probiotic drinks and supplements found in the health sections of grocery markets. Freshly made sauerkraut is the ideal way to reap these benefits and is both easy and economical to prepare in your own kitchen.  (Watch for future blogs about that!)

Sauerkraut can boost your immune system, and also support heart health.  Immune health is critical if you want a well-tuned, smoothly running body, and sauerkraut can be your immune system’s best friend. Researchers found that the exact same probiotics, such as those in sauerkraut, increased levels of the immune system antibody IgG3 up to 66%. As a bonus benefit, the juice from sauerkraut performs like and antifungal and antibacterial agent to cure infectious diseases. They also protect the heart, reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, at the same time increasing heart-healthy antioxidants.

There are so many benefits to eating sauerkraut and eating it regularly. It doesn’t take a huge amount – about ½ cup is good – but it is more helpful to eat it often.

Some important notes:

– Organically grown cabbage is much easier to ferment into sauerkraut than cabbage that has been grown in artificially fertilized soil.  Heavily fertilized cabbage often rots before it starts fermenting.

– Pasteurization is the process of heating foods to kill any bacteria or microorganisms that could cause disease.  This process also kills off healthy lactic acid bacteria which aids digestion, fights disease and imports superior flavors.  Most commercially available sauerkraut is pasteurized to improve its shelf-life, but the pasteurized product does not hold the same healing properties that a naturally fermented product does. However, I have found good raw sauerkraut at our local health food stores, always in the refrigerated section of the store. Shop there if you want to get started adding this wonderful food to your diet before you make your own.

Reminder: 

The 7 Day Healthy Habits Challenge begins next Monday, September 19th.  

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