Here’s Why You Need To Eat Your Sauerkraut!

In most cultures, fermented foods (yoghurt, kim-chi, sauerkraut, etc.) have long been a staple component of traditional diets. 

Now, according to Hannah Wastyk and colleagues from Stanford University, in a paper published in Cell, these foods may not just be a convenient method of preservation, but also an important modulator of immune function. 

The authors studied the effects of a diet containing high amounts of fibre (e.g. fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds) compared to a diet rich in fermented foods (e.g. yogurt, kefir, fermented cottage cheese, fermented vegetables, vegetable brine drinks, kombucha, etc.) on the microbiome and immune status of healthy volunteers. 

Over the 10-week randomised dietary intervention, the high-fibre diet increased levels of microbiome-encoded glycan-degrading carbohydrate active enzymes (CAZymes) without altering the intestinal flora, whereas the high-fermented-food diet incrementally increased microbiota diversity while decreasing inflammatory markers. 

As the authors discuss,

Given that fermented foods have historically been part of many diets around the world, consuming fermented foods may offer an effective way to reintroduce evolutionarily important interactions. They may also provide compensatory exposure to safe environmental and foodborne microbes that have been lost over the course of sanitizing the industrialized environment.

Thus, Fermented foods may be valuable in countering the decreased microbiome diversity and increased inflammation pervasive in industrialized society.

Although not examined in this study, in my personal experience sauerkraut goes well with another fermented German staple, i.e. Beer! Don’t tell me that’s just a co-incidence!


Berlin, D