Sauerkraut is one of the richest food sources of probiotics available and a powerful superfood. Making sauerkraut is a quick, easy and very affordable process and is thought to have been around for over 6,000 years in Chinese culture. Given the exploding popularity of probiotic supplements and drinks of recent times, making sauerkraut at home saves you paying top dollar for marketed probiotics and you actually receive a much more powerful hit of probiotics through the lactic-acid fermentation process.
The importance of a healthy gut
A healthy gut is the key to optimal health. Your gut naturally contains millions if not trillions of beneficial and pathogenic (bad) bacteria. More and more research is emerging on just how important these organisms are to your overall wellbeing.
Our diets and fast paced way of life has a big impact on the balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut. An over-consumption of refined foods, use of prescription medication, alcohol and leading a high-stress lifestyle can all disturb that balance. The presence of too much bad bacteria in your gut leaves you with a weakened immune system and you are more susceptible to disease. A healthy balance allows the body to eliminate harmful toxins, chemicals and other unwanted products from the system.
It is believed by many alternative medical professionals that all disease begins in the gut, especially within the Ayurveda world. Your gut is considered to be your “second brain” and not surprisingly so. Your brain and gut are constantly communicating with each other, but it has been found that the gut is sending a whole lot more information to the brain than the brain to the gut. The information is carried through the “vagus nerve” which runs from the brain to the abdomen. The balance of bacteria in your gut directly influences how the vagus nerve operates as the micro-organisms in your gut release a number of chemicals which influence your mood. For example glutamate is one of the body’s top neurotransmitters that is produced by bacteria in your gut. Glutamate is linked to your memory, cognition and learning. Maintaining a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria within the gut may be the answer to delaying the onset of degenerative disease in the elderly such as alzheimers and dementia. Many alternative medicine programs also utilise probiotics to treat patients who suffer from PTSD, autism and mood disorders with positive effect.
Probiotics limit the growth of bacteria that could potentially convert into carcinogens which is the backbone of many cancers. The immune system needs to be strong in order to fight disease within the body including forms of cancer. Probiotics are renowned for strengthening the immune system and as 70% of your immune system is found within your gut, it is wise to maintain a healthy bacterial balance. Consuming cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage contain a certain type of chemical naturally present called glucosinolates which contain anti-cancer properties. Glucosinolates work by assisting in the body’s natural antioxidant and detoxification system and work by hunting out free radical damage within the body. Cabbage comes out on top as one of the richest sources of glucosinolates.
The number of cancer cases expected to be diagnosed by 2030 is expected to reach 21.7 million globally. It’s about time we explore what’s going on within the body and what we can do to prevent becoming a part of the alarming statistics.
Sauerkraut health benefits
-High anti-inflammatory properties
-Vitamins A,B,C and K
-Minerals iron, magnesium, calcium and more
-High fibre count resulting in a health digestion system
-Boost in energy levels due to high iron intake
-Healthy immune system
-Contains high levels of amino acids that boost dopamine levels
1x tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2x grated carrots
1x whole green cabbage
Starter culture (optional- found at your local health food store)
Celery juice (optional if using starter culture)
1x mason jar
If you are unable to find starter culture you can use 2 tablespoons of mineral salt in its place.
How to make Sauerkraut
Take off the outer leaves of the cabbage and finely slice. Grate the carrots and fresh ginger and add to the sliced cabbage. If using starter culture, mix it into the celery juice in a separate glass and spread over the cabbage mixture and combine.
Place the mixture into a mason jar, packing it tight to release any air pockets. You can use a masher to press it down tighter. Place a cabbage leaf on top and tuck it down the sides or alternatively add a layer of water on top of the mixture to prevent the mixture going mouldy. Whichever method you use, you want to leave an inch gap from the top of the jar. Now seal the lid tightly and leave the mixture to ferment at room temperature for 4-7 days before consuming (don’t open before this time period). Then store in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process. The final mixture should be quite light in colour and limp. When it comes to consuming the mixture always ensure you use a clean utensil so as not to disturb the balance of bacteria.
Remember that any mould that forms on the top is not harmful, just scrape it off after the 4-7 day period.
Glutamate as a neurotransmitter: www.flipper.diff.org/app/pathways/info/4602
Cancer stats: www.cancer.org/research/acsresearchupdates/more/10-must-know-2015-global-cancer-facts
Glucosinolates and anti-cancer: www.sharecare.com/health/antioxidants/glucosinolates-protect-cancer