Tara Carpenter, NC.
Sauerkraut is German for “sour cabbage” and did not traditionally contain salt. It was only when natives of Poland, Germany, and Russia traveled to America by ship that they added salt to preserve the cabbage for long travels. This salty version somehow stuck.
Whilst sauerkraut made with salt is still considered a probiotic-rich food, the geeks out there know that salt acts as a natural preservative to keep bad bugs (pathogens) away, while drawing moisture from the cabbage. Salt also slows and prevents the speedy growth of various probiotic strains that could live in the sauerkraut if not for salt. This is a shame because these little guys are why most eat this food in the first place. Not to say kraut is bad, it’s just not as potent or as rich in probiotics, enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals as could be if made without salt.
See my beginner’s recipe for unsalted cultured vegetables here.
Ditch the salt…
In our modern day, many people – especially kids and pregnant women with digestive issues need a stronger way to eat probiotic food. People with yeast and bacterial infections (Candida, GBS+) are also not usually able to tolerate wild strains in salty sauerkraut. These are two reasons why Donna Gates, founder of Body Ecology Diet has been avid about introducing unsalted kraut, known as cultured vegetables.
The cultured man is an artist, an artist in humanity. ~ Ashley Montagu.
Cultured veggies aren’t the only unsalted, probiotic food to enjoy. You also have milk kefir, cultured butter, young coconut kefir, and creme fraiche; none of which contain salt and all contain diverse flora strains. Unsalted, probiotic food replenishes and maintains a healthy gut (inner ecosystem) because they contain live, beneficial flora that set up home in gut to digest food. This is a perfect food for those with digestive issues (bloating, gas), bacterial overgrowth (GBS+), or yeast overgrowth (Candida).
Thank you Tara for being my Body Ecology Rockstar to look up to! H.L., NY
Unsalted, probiotic food healed my systemic yeast infection and why I still talk 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 … every day, every meal 🙂
Probiotics are eliminated from your body every time you poop, become stressed, or take antibiotics. There are other reasons, yet this is why I advocate for eating probiotic-rich food (without salt!!) on a daily basis. Yes, you can take a probiotic supplement, yet these are expensive and most that are on the market have been shown to not survive the journey from mouth to anus in order to live long enough to set up home in the gut lining.
Many probiotic supplements are less stable/sustainable strains and less likely to populate and thrive because they do not withstand stomach acid, etc. The starter used to make unsalted cultured vegetables and other unsalted probiotic food delivers potent strains that DO withstand stomach acid, even a course of antibiotics.
A therapeutic dose is 1/2 cup per meal. This is what helps keep gut flora levels in check. If we were to eat this amount in salty sauerkraut, we would likely want sweet food to follow all that salt. By contrast, unsalted probiotic food has a sour “zingy” taste often missing from the diet …. expect lemons! Yet there’s no probiotics in lemons!! They do stimulate the growth of important probiotics in the microbiome like Bifidobacterium though 😉 Unsalted, cultured food satisfies the liver’s need for sour along with helping to reduce cravings.
Unsalted probiotic food does not need other flavors to balance them out and combine well with all food, which is big if you are healing on B.E.D and practice the principle of food combining. Eating unsalted probiotic food is an easy way to slim a bloated belly or heal a leaky gut. I now think of unsalted cultured vegetables as a staple food rather than a condiment.
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 https://fermentedfoods.bodyecology.com/wild-fermentation
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May all bellies be happy!