It is time to make your sauerkraut. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, please read this in about six months.

A 2011 article in Psychology Today by Emily Deans, M.D. reviewed an amazing study on stress and gut health. It turns out that we can damage our own gut probiotics, or “commensal microbiome” when we are under emotional stress.

Now this is interesting. Our mental health is enhanced when we have the right probiotics in our gut, and our physical health is enhanced when we lower our stress. Have I mentioned that we ought to be practicing gratitude and meditation?

Probiotics are valuable bacteria that live in the gut and help us in many ways. They protect us from bad bacteria, they help us digest some foods, and they support our immune system. When the gut has the right probiotics, our general health is much better, and when the balance tips toward the bad bacteria, we can get pretty sick.

For example, an unwise overuse of antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria and a nasty strain of bugs can get the upper hand. This will often result in growth of  Clostridium difficile, or “c diff” as it usually called. A broad spectrum antibiotic like clindamycin can pretty much wipe out all the good and much of the bad gut bacteria. The c diff bug (a very resilient bacterium) dominates the gut and churns out lots of toxic byproducts. Without the good bugs to limit the c diff, bad things happen. The patient  gets flu-like symptoms and chronic diarrhea. Some patients can progress to a condition called toxic megacolon which can be a fatal disease.

My dentist once gave me a nasty case of c diff because he was being overly cautious and over prescribed antibiotics after some dental work. I soon became an expert on this ugly condition.

Today my health is excellent because I am constantly replenishing the good bugs by eating yogurt and sauerkraut. And that brings me to the point of this post.

It is time for you to make your sauerkraut. My cabbages are all ripe and ready. The food processor is waiting. The wide-mouth quart jars are eager to come up from the storage room and be filled with cabbage and salt.

The actual making of sauerkraut is something any fool can do. I am a fool, and I made a nice batch last year that I have been eating ever since. I am now on my last quart jar, so the timing couldn’t be better. Here is a typical YouTube video on how to make it.

Some people use a large crock. You don’t need it. Just use quart jars. Works just fine. You chop and grate the cabbage and pack it into jars or crocks. Smith used sugar in his sauerkraut. I didn’t and I didn’t use vinegar, just salt. He uses boiling water, and I wouldn’t do that because I think it might kill off our nifty commensals. We want the bacteria that naturally live on the cabbage that start the fermentation process. You want about a tablespoon of salt for each quart, or a brine of one tablespoon of salt for each quart of brine.

This is closer to how I did it:

No boiling water! No sugar, either. I sealed up my sauerkraut and left the bottles in the garage for a week. They bubbled for a while (it is a fermented food!) and then stopped bubbling and I topped off the jars with some brine and stored them in a cool place. All last year I would bring up a jar, eat until it was gone, and now I am a picture of health.

Kimchee, yogurt, kefir, natto, miso, and sauerkraut are all traditional fermented foods that give us the good bugs. Make them yourself, because you can control what goes in, unlike the food-like substances you find in the store. If you didn’t grow cabbage, get some organic cabbage from some hippy store and get after it. You’ll be glad you did.



By |2016-11-26T15:46:32+00:00August 29th, 2013|Articles, Enhancing Mental Health, Fun Stuff, Health|9 Comments

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  1. Ward August 30, 2013 at 12:58 am - Reply

    Ah! Yes! I think I read about this on Dr. Mercola’s site and I just made my first batch yesterday! A tiny one, with the organic cabbage and Mediterranean Pink Salt that I picked up at the “hippie” food co-op. Last week I also had bought a jar of locally made organic sauerkraut at the same co-op and was surprised at the difference in this wonderful kraut made with only salt. In my next batch I may try using some of that as a starter, too.

    Anyway thanks too for this reminder because I was about to schedule some dental work. Really without much sugar or processed foods in my diet and using peroxide as a dental rinse, I have not had any cavities or dental pain for many years.

    But I ate some Kimchi recently which seemingly loosened calcification to my toothpick. Any ideas on that one?

    Thanks for this treatment of the importance of the vagus nerve!


  2. Ryan Nagy August 30, 2013 at 6:51 am - Reply

    Perfect timing, thanks! I have been looking for easy ways to increase my probiotic intake. Miso paste has worked wonders and yoghurt is an easy choice. I have been looking into making my own sauerkraut. The YouTube videos will, I think, do the trick!


  3. Dr. Perri Jacobs August 30, 2013 at 8:27 am - Reply

    I have always used the crock method but this jar method sounds easier. I have also added red/purple cabbage to my white cabbage and it makes a beautiful pink color when fermented and gives a little different taste. Thanks Lynn for sharing this info.

  4. Jwilson August 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Greetings Dr. Johnson,

    What a perfectly timed article! Ironically enough, I just finished listening to Michael Pollan’s new book, “Cooked”, in which he advocates homemade fermentation including sauerkraut. His research shows that yogurt is the only food left in America (that is mass-produced) that utilizes live microbes. Pickles, sauerkraut, beer and other “fermented” mass-produced products are now made through the wonders of the right chemical additions rather than true fermentation. No wonder my mom’s pickles tasted better but varied from batch to batch.

    He also agrees with you on the organic vs. commercially produced foods especially meats. (We love our fresh chicken eggs which are far superior to those at the store.) His section on touring the —-er bread company (before they went under) was truly horrifying. Homemade just sounds (and tastes!) better and better.

  5. Lee Ann Austin August 31, 2013 at 11:52 am - Reply

    I craved two things when I was pregnant, kraut was the main one. I ate lots. My german grandmother born in 1900 used to sweeten the aroma of her country home with her homemade sauerkraut grated from her homegrown cabbage. I have her crocks and grater. Seems the old fashioned way has been the healthiest. Isn’t it interesting how the marketing of factory processed foods and store-bought goods has crept into the minds of many as being a sign of monetary success and sophistication/independence? Thanks for the info on using jars to ferment the kraut. I am canning my tomatoes currently and will attempt this kraut process as well.

  6. bonita lawhead August 31, 2013 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    I really enjoy your articles, Lynn, and use your information in my work with clients (primarily chemically dependent). Stress is a huge factor for them as well as the rest of us. However, what can I (and other people like me) do since I do not like sauerkraut unless it’s on a reuben sandwich which I would guess is probably not very healthful? Thanks. bonita

    • Dr.J September 19, 2013 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      I love Reuben sandwiches. But I also eat sauerkraut with scrambled eggs.


  7. Arun Pratap Singh September 3, 2013 at 3:01 am - Reply

    Thank you Dr. Lynn for such crisp writing and informative article

    • Dr.J September 5, 2013 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      Many thanks, I hope to do some more on these “lifestyle” topics. We are finding more and more evidence that lifestyle, such as what we eat and how we spend our time, all have a big impact on our mental and emotional health.

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