Sauerkraut, known as kraut, is a popular probiotic food made with cabbage and salt. The salt acts as a natural preservative to keep bad bugs (pathogens) away, while drawing moisture from the cabbage.
Why not add salt…
Salt slows and prevents the growth of the variety and amount of probiotic strains that could be living in the sauerkraut. This is a shame because these little guys are why most of us eat this food in the first place. This is not to say that kraut is a bad food, it’s just not as potent or as rich in probiotics, enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals as it could be. To skip to my beginner’s recipe for unsalted cultured vegetables you can go here.
Sauerkraut means sour cabbage…
Sauerkraut is German for “sour cabbage”. Traditionally, kraut didn’t contain salt. It was only when the natives of Poland, Germany, and Russia began traveling to America by ship that they added salt (to preserve cabbage) for the long travels and somehow this new way stuck.
Ditch the salt…
In our modern day, there are many people – esp. kids/pregnant women – with digestive issues who need a stronger way to eat probiotic food. There are also people with yeast/bacterial infections (Candida, GBS+) who are unable to tolerate wild strains in salty sauerkraut. These are just two of the reasons why Donna Gates, founder of The Body Ecology Diet has been avid about re-introducing unsalted kraut, also known as unsalted cultured vegetables.
Cultured veggies aren’t the only unsalted, probiotic food. There is also milk kefir, cultured butter, young coconut kefir, and creme fraiche; none of which contain salt and all of which contain a diversity of flora strains.
Unsalted, probiotic food replenishes and maintains a healthy gut (inner ecosystem) because they contain live, beneficial flora that set up home in your gut and help digest food. This is a perfect food for digestive issues (i.e. bloating, constipation, gas), bacterial overgrowth (GBS+), or yeast overgrowth (Candida).
Unsalted, probiotic food turned around my systemic yeast infection and is why I am still talking them up all these years later. They helped my oldest eliminate parasites and my husband improve digestion and gain weight. My youngest was two when I started making them and still loves them just as much now … he eats them every day, every meal 🙂
Why not just take a probiotic supplement?
Every time you poop, you discharge probiotics. Every time you stress, you discharge probiotics. Every time you take antibiotics, you discharge probiotics. There are more reasons, but that is why most people eat probiotic food. Yes, you can take a probiotic supplement but they are expensive and most of them on the market can’t survive the journey from the mouth down to the anus to live long enough to populate; they are often too fragile to withstand stomach acid, etc. The starter used to make unsalted cultured vegetables deliver potent strains that can withstand stomach acid, even antibiotics.
Get your zing on
A good dose is 1/2 cup per meal. This therapeutic dose can help keep gut flora levels in check. Yet, for most of us, is we were to eat this same amount of salty sauerkraut, you’d likely want sweet food to drown out that salt. By contrast, unsalted probiotic food has a sour “zingy” taste often missing from our diet …. expect lemons, but there’s no probiotics in lemons, lemons do stimulate the growth of important probiotics in the microbiome like bifidobacterium. Unsalted, cultured food satisfies your liver’s need for sour along with squelching cravings.
All in all this is a food that does not need other flavors to balance out and they combine with all food, which is a biggie if you are someone with gut issues or on B.E.D. Regardless, food combining is an easy way to slim a bloated belly or heal leaky gut and I know think of unsalted cultured vegetables as less a condiment and more of a staple food.
Axe, J. (2016). 7 Health Benefits of Sauerkraut. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/sauerkraut/
Gates, D. (2010). The Body Ecology Diet. Decatur, Georgia: B.E.D. Publications
Gates, D. (2006). Why You Should Consider Not Using Salt to Ferment Your Foods. Retrieved from
Gates, D. (2016). Fermented Foods: Beware of Wild Fermentation. Retrieved from http://fermentedfoods.bodyecology.com/wild-fermentation
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May all bellies be happy!