What is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage food item that is very popular throughout the entire Central Europe. A fermented cabbage is nutritious as well as lucrative in taste. In fact, this food item is cherished all across the world. According to School of Integrative Medicine at University of Witten in Germany, sauerkraut is the oldest and most common form of preserving and storing cabbage. It is also termed as a very important food source to the people back then.
Sauerkraut Contains Probiotics Which is Beneficial in Regulating Digestion:
Probiotics are microorganisms present in the sauerkraut especially the lactobacillus bacteria feeds the good bacteria in the gut. It improves the digestive health and strengthens the gut. Research also proves that within the sauerkraut, lactobacillus plantarum is predominant and is the most important bacteria strain which is born throughout the fermentation process of cabbage in sauerkraut. Since they help in lowering the presence of toxins, inflammation and bad bacteria, which are living in the digestive tract, these probiotics bacteria are very essential in feeding good bacteria in the gut and combating and reducing the effect of diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and other digestive disorders in the stomach. Sauerkraut also helps in absorbing nutrients from the food which an individual has eaten.
Benefits of Sauerkraut in Improving Immune System Function
Since most of the people do not actually realize this, gut is the major and biggest immune system organ in the human body and sauerkraut probiotics play a crucial role in healing and benefitting the gut in numerous ways. The good bacteria from sauerkraut support the immune system, control few cells of immune system and stop autoimmune reactions. Recently done investigations have shown the role of probiotics as a part of healthy diet, which provides safe, cost-effective diet that eventually works as a barrier against different types of microbial infections. It has also been found that probiotics are a lot effective against diarrhea, antibiotics resistance, infections, inflammatory bowel disease and even cancer.
Sauerkraut Reduces Inflammation & Allergy
One of the benefits of Sauerkrauts probiotics is that it helps the body to fight inflammation and allergies. Sauerkrauts probiotics elevate and increase NK cells, which are also known as natural killer cells. These cells control the inflammation pathways and they take action against food allergic reactions. This in turn also helps in lowering the virtual chronic diseases like heart diseases and even cancer.
Sauerkraut Protects Cognitive Health
We all have felt “butterflies in the stomach” in nervous situations and it isn’t hard to fathom the connection between the digestive system and brain of the body. Researchers are still figuring out the exact cause and how come this connection is bidirectional. Reason being, even when there is a stomach upset, the brain tends to react abruptly and generally that is reflected in the mood of an individual. So sauerkraut probiotics, help in strengthening the gut and digestive tract of an individual by feeding on the good bacteria and eradicating the bad bacteria. It keeps the bowel movements smooth and nourishes the dietary tract.
Sauerkraut Contains Cancer Fighting Antioxidants
Cabbage comes amidst the group of veggies having high-antioxidant and cruciferous vegetables which are known for being the most cancer-fighting foods. Cabbage contains phytochemicals, sulphur compounds, isothiocyanate and indoles. In a research done, these ingredients were said to be powerful against combating cancerous growth of cells and also had positive effect in reducing inflammation of the body too.
Sauerkraut made from purple cabbage is perhaps the best sauerkraut food at combating cancerous growth of cells. In fact, purple cabbage has its own group of special antioxidant properties known as anthocyanins.
What are the Side Effects of Sauerkraut?
Since sauerkraut is a fermented food and although it holds numerous benefits and properties that are beneficial to the body especially the gut, sauerkraut has some harmful side effects too. Consumption of not only sauerkraut, but any fermented food item is harmful to the consumer. Below we discuss some side effects of sauerkraut:
Gastric Problem and Bloating Related Side Effects of Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut contains raffinose, a plant sugar which the small intestine cannot break. When the raffinose from sauerkraut reaches the colon area, the normal bacteria ferments the sugar but doesn’t break down raffinose which releases gas. So, eating sauerkraut in large amounts can severely increase intestinal bloating and gas problems. So avoid eating sauerkraut if you suffer from digestive issues like constipation or IBS since it leads to uncomfortable feeling in abdomen. To combat this, over the counter enzyme in the body known as alpha-galactosidase helps reduce the amount of gas formed in the colon as a result of consuming raffinose rich sauerkraut.
Abdominal Cramps, Diarrhea
Here also the role of raffinose is immense in causing a dietary issue. Consuming too much of sauerkraut leaves large amounts of unfermented raffinose in the stool, if the sugar in the food item exceeds the breakdown capacity of the bacteria in the colon then the undigested raffinose in the abdomen leads to increased water retention which ultimately leads to loose stools. Also, after overconsumption of sauerkraut, you may also experience some side effects like intense and heavy abdominal cramps.
Eating too much amount of sauerkraut and excluding other essential food items might deprive the body of essential nutrients and minerals. Not enough vitamins, minerals and nutrients are found in the sauerkraut. In fact, the healthiest and smartest way to include sauerkraut in your diet is to include different variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, low fat dairy items and lean proteins in your sauerkraut dish. In this way, it would also include all the necessary vitamins and nutrients and would also extract benefits from the base item sauerkraut as well.
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Since sauerkraut preparation requires considerable amount of salt in the making, this food item isn’t ideal for high blood pressure patients. If there is excess salt in sauerkraut then it can possibly lead to water retention in the body, increase in the blood pressure and even both. It is worse for you if you are suffering from pre-existing renal disease. If so, you must unhesitatingly avoid sauerkraut.