Sauerkraut is made from shredded cabbage which has then been fermented in a jar with salt water. It’s a great source of probiotics, particularly lactobacillus plantarum as well as vitamins, minerals and something called isothiocyanates.
Bacteria and bowel movements
There is a great deal of talk on weight loss websites about the importance of a clean bowel and the fact that you should be taking high fibre supplements such as psyllium husks. What they neglect to tell you is that you really need good gut flora to properly form stools.
Dr. Oz has described on his television series, the impact of major disease on diagnostic changes in the color and appearance of poop, but he doesn’t seem to understand that poop is mostly bacteria that have grown in the gut. The major implication of the predominance of gut bacteria in poop is seen in constipation. The pounds of bacteria in the colon provide the bulk and hydration of the poop, and when the bacteria are not abundant, the result is compacted, undigestible dietary fiber, which is the hard poop of constipation. That is why antibiotics, which have the major effect of killing gut bacteria, result in constipation. Chronic use of antibiotics, or frequently even a single use, can produce prolonged constipation.
Dr. Art Ayers – Cooling Inflammation
Lactobacillus plantarum has been shown to ferment fibre in the large intestine to produce short-chain fatty acids which are then used by the colon for energy. Without this energy you wouldn’t experience peristalsis which is the wave-like motion that allows you to have a bowel movement.
The Korean version of sauerkraut is called kimchi and has been studied in relation to weight loss.
Fermented kimchi reduces body weight and improves metabolic parameters in overweight and obese patients.
Therefore, the ingestion of fermented kimchi had positive effects on various factors associated with metabolic syndrome, including systolic and diastolic blood pressures, percent body fat, fasting glucose, and total cholesterol, compared with the fresh kimchi. These results suggest that the maturity of kimchi (fresh vs fermented) may affect obesity, lipid metabolism, and inflammatory processes.
As you’ll know, detoxification is very big within the weight loss industry with many products on the market claiming to help you detox and lose weight.
However one potentially good way to detox is to eat sauerkraut. As mentioned above, sauerkraut contains isothiocyanates which have been researched in relation to cancer and detoxification.
Substances that need to be detoxed can go through multiple steps before they’re finally eliminated from the body. Usually they will go through Phase I first which then causes by-products to be produced. These by-products then go to Phase II before being dumped out of the body.
For example, alcohol goes through Phase I to become acetaldehyde which is then converted into acetic acid via Phase II. Acetaldehyde is what causes a hangover. If Phase I is overactive and Phase II is underactive you’re going to end up having a hangover from hell.
Often it’s the byproducts (eg acetaldehyde) that cause the most harm to your body. Isothiocyanates have been shown to slow down Phase I and speed up Phase II which is one reason it may be beneficial as an anti-cancer treatment.
How do you eat sauerkraut?
Unfortunately, most sauerkraut you can buy in the shops has been pasteurized in order to kill off the bad bacteria and in doing so kill off the good bacteria too such as l. plantarum.
This means that pasteurized sauerkraut is pretty useless. Instead you should make your own using cabbage, water and salt. You can also experiment with other vegetables such as carrots, spinach and lettuce.
You should also eat sauerkraut raw however you can cook it if you simply like the taste. Ultimately for the health benefits it should be eaten raw.
If you fancy making your own sauerkraut, here’s a good website to get you started – http://sauerkrautrecipe.org/