One way of optimizing the bacteria in your gut is by adding fermented foods to your wholesome diet.
There are a lot of fermented foods that you can indulge in, such as kefir, tempeh, kimchi, and miso. You can also easily make fermented vegetables at home.
One of my personal favorites is sauerkraut, which is rich in beneficial bacteria and at the same time tastes so good. So if you love cabbage, this raw sauerkraut recipe is a must-try.
Did You Know?
- One way of optimizing the balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut is by eating fermented foods
- Sauerkraut is rich in vitamin K that helps strengthen your bones and releases proteins, which regulate bone mineralization
- Cabbage is an abundant source of vitamin K and provides 85 percent of the required amount your body needs
- Research has shown that high levels of glucosinolate found in sauerkraut, once they break down, may reduce the DNA damage and cell mutation during the formation of cancer (carcinogenesis)
- 1 whole green cabbage
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 carrots, grated
- Celery juice
- Starter culture
- Grate, shred, or slice the cabbage thinly, except for the outer leaves (set them aside). Shred the carrots and ginger, and add to the cabbage.
- Mix the starter culture in the celery juice, making sure it’s completely dissolved. Add the juice to your vegetables, spreading it out evenly.
- Put as much as sauerkraut in a ceramic pot or glass container as you can.
- Get a masher, and mash the vegetables down. This will release more juices in your sauerkraut and eliminate any air pockets.
- Place a cabbage leaf on top of your sauerkraut, and tuck it down the sides. Cover the jar with the lid loosely (Fermentation produces carbon dioxide, which will expand the jar).
- Store the container in a place with a controlled temperature, like a cooler, for 5 to 7 days. On the seventh day, transfer the sauerkraut to the refrigerator.
Raw Sauerkraut Preparation Tips
You can customize your sauerkraut recipe according to your taste. Beets, garlic, shredded celery, golden beets, sweet potato, bell peppers, and parsley are wonderful choices. You can use any herb you like, such as thyme or cilantro. Adding a habanero pepper also adds a bit of spiciness to your sauerkraut (wear gloves when handling peppers as they can burn your skin).
Choose cabbage that is blemish-free and has compact leaves. Do not pick those that are too light for their size and have broken leaves.
It is best to store your sauerkraut or any other fermented food in a glass jar. Avoid using plastic containers, as they have bisphenol-A, which can leach into your food. Metal jars are also not recommended.
Pick ginger roots that are firm, smooth, and free from mold. If you are going to slice instead of grate it, make the slices as thin as possible.
By storing your carrots in the coolest part of your refrigerator, you can maintain their freshness for two weeks. However, do not put them beside apples or pears, as their ethylene gas can make your carrots bitter.
Why Is Raw Sauerkraut Good for You?
Raw sauerkraut is light on your pocket but heavy on health benefits. Aside from providing good bacteria for your gut, it also:
- Has anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that high levels of glucosinolate found in sauerkraut, once they break down, may reduce the DNA damage and cell mutation during the formation of cancer (carcinogenesis). The same study also found out that women who ate at least three servings of sauerkraut and short-cooked cabbage have a lower breast cancer risk than those who consumed one serving per week.
- Is an excellent source of vitamin C. A serving of sauerkraut provides 35 percent of the average recommended intake of vitamin C, which is vital in the production of white blood cells, and promotes cell regeneration and repair.
- Supports bone growth. Sauerkraut is rich in vitamin K that helps strengthen your bones and releases proteins, which regulate bone mineralization. A single serving offers 23 percent of the daily recommended intake.
- Maintains good eye health. Fermented cabbage provides high levels of vitamin A, which can reduce your risk for macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Fights inflammation. Sauerkraut’s anti-inflammatory properties are attributed to its phytonutrient antioxidants, which can help lessen the pain in joints and muscles.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut are actually a vital component of the Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome (GAPS) program developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. She has been using this program to help heal patients suffering from different illnesses like autism, epilepsy, mood disorders, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, and more. The beneficial bacteria from the cultured foods, which her patients consumed daily, helped remove heavy metals and toxins from the body, which improved their immune system.
Beneficial bacteria from fermented foods also provide the following important health benefits:
- Helps prevent obesity and diabetes
- Improve mood and physical health
- Regulate fat absorption
- Produce B vitamins and vitamin K2
If you are new to eating fermented foods, you should take it slow. Start off with one teaspoon of sauerkraut per meal so as not to overwhelm your gastrointestinal tract and cause a healing crisis, which occurs when the probiotics kill the pathogens in it. Gradually increase your serving of fermented foods as tolerated by your body.
Once you are fully acquainted with cultured foods, eat one quarter to one-half cup of fermented vegetables along with one to three meals per day to reap the health benefits that these foods offer.