On a recent foray to my local health food store to find some powerful probiotics I endured a little sticker shock. A one month supply of probiotics was going to cost me from $30 to $79 dollars. I care a lot about my health, but spending almost $1000 bucks annually on a single food supplement isn’t going to work for me, especially when I can make my own probiotics, which just happen to be way better, for about $2 a month. You can too.
The bacteria in our bodies equals the number of cells we have. We are like a walking biodome for trillions of these living creatures. If we don’t take care of our microbiota, then our health truly suffers.
If bad bacteria take over our guts, we are likely to develop chronic gut inflammation that can lead to depression, heart disease, joint pain, obesity, more frequent colds and flu, and even neurodegenerative diseases. No thanks!
Colonizing the gut with probiotics is super important, but these live bacteria and yeasts which live in our digestive systems can be placed there by the foods we eat – and sauerkraut is one of the easiest, cheapest, most probiotic-friendly foods on the planet. We don’t need to pay a small fortune to get our probiotics in pill form.
Here are just a few things that our good gut bacteria do for us:
- Help to metabolize sugars, carbohydrates, and proteins
- Are involved with vitamin production
- Help us to absorb vital minerals we need
- Help us detox substances which are harmful like pesticides and heavy metals
- Prohibit many diseases from forming in the body
Bad gut bacteria do the following:
- Release endotoxins, causing us to become “polluted”
- Cause us to want to eat bad foods like simple carbs and sugars to feed them
- Increase fat storage and obesity
- Cause inflammation
- Drive other non-beneficial metabolic changes
Why Fermented Foods Are Way Better than Probiotic Capsules
Here’s why this single natural fermented food, sauerkraut, is a trillion times better than probiotic capsules:
Probiotic supplements usually contain approximately 10 billion colony-forming units per capsule – a single 1/2 cup serving of fermented vegetables contain 10 TRILLION colony-forming healthy bacteria!
Using the process of natural fermentation, we can create our own healthy bacteria in our guts. This is because all organic fruits and vegetables and the dust and soil they come from (assuming they haven’t been doused in agricultural chemicals like pesticides and non-organic fertilizers) are covered in Lactobacilli. If we use cabbage as an example, for the easiest vegetable fermentation process – we hardly need to do anything to it to get these natural healthy bacterial colonies to grow – because they are already there!
How to Make Your Own Sauerkraut
Organic red or green savoy cabbage
A large glass mason jar
A wooden spoon
Optional – add chilli peppers, carrots, garlic, celery, cauliflower, herbs, peppercorns, etc. to change the flavor of your sauerkraut
First, get your organic red or green cabbage, and chop up the leaves. You will need to add a ½ teaspoon of organic sea salt (Himalayan or other) to stop putrefactive bacteria from growing.
If you are adding vegetables other than cabbage, you will want to grate them so that they look like coleslaw.
The Lactobacillus will begin to multiply on their own and produce lactic acid. This is a powerful natural antiseptic. It kills off unhealthy microbes in the cabbage, and it will do the same in our bodies when we consume it. This also allows us to store (unopened) sauerkraut for up to six years without it spoiling or rotting. Once it is in your fridge and you are eating on it daily, you can expect it to last about two weeks.
Set the cabbage and salt mixture aside temporarily. The salt will start to cause some of the juice of the cabbage to come out. You can add about ¼ cup of cold water to your cabbage and salt mixture if you want to help this process along.
Once you have allowed the cabbage/salt/water (and optional vegetables) mixture to sit for about ten to twenty minutes you can simply start to pack the mixture into your large glass mason jar. You want to pack it in as much as you can so that the liquid covers the cabbage leaves completely. You also want to get as much of the air out as you can and allow the juices to submerge all the solid contents.
You can pack until you are near the top of the jar, and then use one cabbage leaf to cover the top to help the mixture stay in its own juices. You want it to be submerged so that it can ferment properly.
This mixture will then simply sit at room temperature for a little over a week. You can taste it daily to check for sourness, and when it reaches a level that pleases your taste buds, simply pop it in the fridge. This acts as a “hold” on the fermentation process. The more sour you can handle your sauerkraut, though, the better, because this indicates a higher level of beneficial bacteria have grown.
It’s this simple!
Just one word of caution. Start eating your sauerkraut in small doses, because all those healthy bacteria can cause the die-off of unhealthy bacteria in your gut, causing a Herxheimer reaction, otherwise known as a healing crisis. This can be felt in the form of nausea, headaches, skin eruptions, diarrhea, and more. If you go slow, and acclimate your body, the die-off is less severe, as it is spread over time. Once your gut health is restored, you can eat sauerkraut everyday if you like, building from 1-2 teaspoons to ½ cup daily.