I often hear the phrase ‘you are what you eat’. But is it really true? …. hmmm maybe not!
Contrary to popular belief, you aren’t what you eat but what your body is able to digest and absorb. Even if you are eating the best quality nutrient-dense diet your body might not necessary be absorbing all the nutrients. “What is the problem?”, you might be asking… well… let’s start from the beginning. Let’s look at each component of our gut and what happens where.
- Your stomach is where most of the initial digestion takes place.
- Your small intestine is where nutrient assimilation occurs.
- Your gallbladder is where you digest your fats and fat-soluble nutrients.
- Your large intestine is where bacterial processing of waste happens.
- Your microbiome is the different kinds of bacteria living in your gut.
- Your brain is where your digestion starts.
- And then there is the gut barrier that decides what gets in and what stays out.
Pretty complex, right? The key is to make all these different parts to work properly. For this to happen you might want to start off with creating and maintaining a healthy gut flora. Good bacteria help regulate not only your digestion and intestinal mechanism but also your immune function that protects your body from infections and from harmful bacteria.
Making your homemade cultured foods such as sauerkraut is the simplest and most effective way to boost beneficial bacteria in your gut flora. Also once you populate your gut with good bacteria (probiotics) make sure you feed it with prebiotics, aka indigestible fibres (asparagus, onions, garlic, leeks etc.). And remember your gut health doesn’t only depend on food but also on factors such as getting adequate sleep and the ability to manage stress.
To start you off, in this post I explain how to make good, old-fashioned sauerkraut the Polish way.
Sauerkraut is not only incredibly high in vitamin C, but also comes packed with probiotics (good bacteria), digestive enzymes, and cancer-fighting compounds.
Sauerkraut the Polish Way
- 1 large glass jar
- 1 large bowl
- a kitchen cloth and a rubber band
- 2 medium head of cabbage (I like adding red colour to my food thus I often choose organic purple cabbage but you can do it with green cabbage too)
- 3 tablespoons sea salt
- Wash the jar and all the utensils in hot water.
- Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and the core.
- Keep one of the outer leaves, wash it well and set aside.
- Slice the cabbage by hand or you can use a food processor.
- Place the cabbage in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle on the salt, toss through and leave for about 5 minutes for the cabbage to start releasing its juices.
- Massage the whole mixture with your hands for around 10 minutes. Squeeze hard to get as much juice out of the cabbage as possible.
- Fill the prepared jar with the cabbage, pressing down well with a large spoon to remove any air pockets and leaving 2 cm of room free at the top.
- The cabbage should be packed tightly and be completely submerge in the liquid
- Take the clean cabbage leaf, fold it up and place it on top of the cabbage mixture.
- Weight it down to keep it from floating by placing a smaller jar filled with water.
- Cover the top with a breathable cloth to keep the dust and bugs out but allow air flow as well.
- Secure with a rubber band and set in a dark place for 7 to 14 days or even longer. The longer you leave the jar, the higher the level of good bacteria present.
- For the first few days, check to make sure that the cabbage is still completely submerged under the liquid.
The sauerkraut will last for up to 2 months in the fridge. If unopened it will last for up to 1 year.
I encourage you to add homemade sauerkraut to any meal as a side dish - not only does it help to break down the protein and adds beneficial bacteria to your gut, but also it tastes great.
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