Can sour cabbage – ie. sauerkraut – help you get rid of acne?

Really…. sour cabbage? ……. you want me to eat….. what?

YES! Sour cabbage! But I’m not talking about limp, mushy, vinegary sauerkraut that North Americans are used to putting on their hot dogs. I’m talking about lightly tangy, crisp, fermented cabbage made lovingly at home with a hint of dill and caraway seeds. Sounds delightful, don’t it?

Okay, but what does sauerkraut have to do with acne?

Well, sauerkraut is traditionally a fermented food. Fermentation is when bacteria break down complex compounds in a substance and makes them simpler – essentially they pre-digest them for you – usually changing the taste and texture in the process.

The long and short of it is that, generally, fermented foods are great for improving your digestion because of the easy absorption of them and the beneficial bacteria for your guts.

And if you are eating healthy food and digesting it well – acne doesn’t stand a chance!

Each fermented food is slightly different with how it can help you with your digestion, because each one is made with different strains of bacteria.

Let’s look at some advantages to choosing fermented cabbage, in particular:

  1. It stimulates stomach acid.

    Eating 1/4 of a cup with each meal is one of the best ways to get your stomach to produce enough stomach acid if it doesn’t already, which is very important to absorbing minerals, killing bad bacteria, and digesting proteins (so they don’t go on to become allergens). It’s the lactic acid produced by the lactobacillus bacteria that give sauerkraut this special trait.

  2. It improves good bacteria in your guts.

    The Lactobacillus bacteria founds in sauerkraut is a star at colonizing your intestinal tract and improving your inner ecosystem, which is super important for a whole host of reasons including proper assimilation of nutrients.

  3. It tastes pretty good.

    Yeah I know that sour cabbage sounds very yuck, but homemade sauerkraut is actually quite nice and goes very well as a side dish to many meals – not just sausages. And if you don’t like the taste that much or just get sick of it, mixing it with your food or adding a little tahini or nut butter seems to do the trick! (Example: I just mixed some with an indian curry style dish and it was awesome! That’s right… German-Indian fusion).

  4. It’s made with a benign ingredient.

    People react very different to fermented foods made out of dairy products or grain products (such as yogurt or sourdough bread), but cabbage is pretty safe for most!

  5. It’s loaded with Vitamin C.

    Fermented cabbage has almost 20 times as much available Vitamin C for you as opposed to just cabbage, which is an important vitamin for repairing the skin and keeping it smooth and firm.

  6. It fights cancer!

    It contains the natural cancer fighting compounds isothiocyanate and sulphoraphane. Plus, the enzymes in sauerkraut boost your own enzymes, especially those essential to cell rejuvenation, toxin elimination and immune response (all important for beautiful skin).

  7. It’s one of the cheapest and easiest probiotics you can get.

    Probiotic supplements can be expensive to use long term, and most fermented foods require locating and buying some kind of starter culture. Cabbage, on the other hand, has all the bacteria you need found naturally in the leaves. All you really need is cabbage, sea salt, and some large glass mason jars.

  8. It’s fun to make!

    It’s like a science experiment. And I know how much you adored science class in high school ๐Ÿ˜€

So…. for those of you who didn’t like science class, you may be asking….. which store can I buy this at?

Here’s the thing – the sauerkraut you would buy in a jar off the shelf of the grocery store is completely useless.

Most commercial sauerkraut isn’t even made with fermentation anymore, it’s just made with vinegar. And even if it originally was made with fermentation, it’s likely that it was pasteurized afterwards – meaning that it was heated to high temperatures and the beneficial bacteria is all dead. And even if it wasn’t pasteurized, if it’s been sitting on the shelf at room temperature – yep. They’re likely to be in their graves.

The only sauerkraut you should buy if you want the benefits for your skin is freshly made, refrigerated sauerkraut that specifically says it’s not been pasteurized. You may get lucky and find it at a health store. Don’t ask me how much this would cost, but I’m certain that if you are eating 1/4 of a cup of it with each meal that it’s not very cost effective.

Anyhoo…I just made my very first batch of sauerkraut and I’m really excited about it!! It turned out great. I took loads of photos of the process so next post….. you get to learn how to make it!! Woohoo!!!

photo by I believe I can fry