My sauerkraut craving…

My Sauerkraut craving…

No, I’m not pregnant! My body has the habit of very kindly letting me know when I need a specific food. Every time I walked past the sauerkraut in the supermarket, I just got this fancy for it, but couldn’t think of a way to eat it. I even got as far as buying it, but it just sat there in the store cupboard.

You would have thought that having Polish parents I could have just knocked up a bigos, our most famous traditional dish, but unfortunately the cooking gene inherited by my sister and brothers seems to have passed me by!

It was only when I read Dr Mercola’s article on probiotics (see link below) that I worked out why my body was asking for the sauerkraut and was galvanised into action. It was quite an experience – my body was so delighted that I had finally got the message, it was doing little skips of pleasure every time I ate it!

So what is it that makes sauerkraut so special? Sauerkraut or indeed any of the fermented foods (see list below) help to ensure that our gut is populated by beneficial bacteria. And as 80% of our immune system resides in our gut, it’s important that it remain healthy!

It might not look particularly appetising, but it’s got a great pickled flavour that goes brilliantly with lots of different foods, particularly meat and oily fish, and it’s so good for you 🙂

We always have both beneficial and harmful bacteria present in the gut and it is only when the balance is compromised that our health suffers. Our excessive consumption of refined sugars which feed the harmful bacteria is one of the primary culprits. Another is taking antibiotics which indiscriminately kill both harmful and beneficial bacteria. Chlorinated water, birth control pills and stress can also jeopardise the balance. (While it may be necessary to take antibiotics on occasion, if this is followed by a diet that includes fermented food you will be able to repopulate your gut with the good bacteria.)

Probiotic supplements are notoriously expensive and some may not provide a good range of bacteria. I always prefer to get my vitamins and minerals from food wherever possible because they provide them in a natural and balanced way.

The best way to ensure optimal gut flora is to regularly consume traditionally fermented foods and most cultures have their own versions:

  • Pickled fermentations of cabbage (sauerkraut), turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots Fermented raw milk such as kefir or yogurt (but NOT commercial versions, which typically do not have live cultures and are loaded with sugars that feed the harmful bacteria)    
  • Lassi – an Indian yogurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner
  • Tempeh and Natto made from fermented soy    
  • Kim chee

When buying fermented foods it’s important that you check the labels carefully. Unfortunately our desire to exterminate all germs at any cost has led to many of the traditional fermented foods’ health benefits being compromised by pasteurisation. (Cooking will also destroy many of the beneficial bacteria, so consume raw to get the benefit).

I haven’t yet been able to find unpasteurised sauerkraut here in Spain so we are now making our own – I’ll keep you posted on progress. The first batch should be ready soon! Now I just need to find the perfect Polish sausage to go with it, mmmm!
I’d love to hear from you. So if you have any questions or would like to share your experience of fermented foods, just post a comment below. Or email me at

One of The Most Important Supplements You Can Take’ by Dr Mercola