Bowel Flora:

Beneficial Bowel Flora and Sauerkraut

by Chet Day

When's the last time you thought about your bowel flora?

I bet you haven't pondered the topic in ages, and perhaps you've never thought on it at all.

Well, today I'd like to spend some time chipping around the fascinating subject of the tiny critters that live within our bowels and how we can use sauerkraut -- the king of fermented foods -- to feed our little symbiotic buddies.

Yes, yes, I know.

The idea of microscopic organisms living and reproducing within you probably seems creepy at first. But when you see the good these beneficial bacteria do for your health and well being, you'll want to welcome them aboard instead of wanting to throw them over the side.

Interestingly enough, when I'm asked to speak on the human elimination system while at cocktail parties or dining with the Vanderbilts, people often lower their eyes and ease away from the group or the table.

For some reason, many individuals consider human elimination a taboo or impolite subject.

I personally consider the eliminatory functions of the human body most fascinating.

As an aside, lest you think me odd, John Milton, one of the great English poets, shared my interest in the topic, and he discussed angels and their processing of food in Paradise Lost.

Great English poets aside, I also know for a fact that proper elimination contributes mightily to ideal health.


Put down your copy of The Complete Milton for a moment and ponder the drain in your bathroom sink.

When you wash your hair in the sink on occasion... and drop fingernails and shards of dental floss and tiny rubber bands your teens use on their braces and other things down the drain, what eventually happens?

Well, one night as you brush your ole choppers, you suddenly notice the water from the tap drains more and more slowly.

If you don't do something about the problem, eventually the sink ceases to drain entirely.

At that point, if you approach fixing house pipes the way I do, you dig out your trusty plumber's friend and start pumping away.

If you have the same luck I have with plumber's friends, after five minutes of brisk action, you instruct your spouse to call a professional in the morning.

And, as you reflect on your inability to accomplish any task around the house more complicated than cleaning the stainless steel handle on your refrigerator door, you stare with dismay at the crummy mess of gray water mixed with all kinds of nasty-looking gunk that now fills your bathroom sink.

Well, although I stretch the metaphor a tad, the body kind of works this way too.

You see, if you don't eat natural, high fiber foods, and if you don't have healthy intestinal flora, sooner or later, just like the bathroom sink, you'll drain more and more slowly.

For many people, slow drainage means having a single bowel movement every other day or two or three or four.

Well, if the last sentence describes the person living in your body, you can include yourself in the ranks of the millions of other Americans who suffer chronic constipation.

Up until 1993, I suffered in those ranks myself.

These days I make a liberal deposit in the bank of my bathroom two or three times a day, just like clockwork.

I'm not alone.

Did you know that primitive peoples, some of the healthiest men, women, and children on the planet, also make deposits, and copious ones at that, several times a day, usually within a few minutes of finishing a meal?

Well, they do.

And their elimination systems work as designed because they don't eat all the processed junk food most so-called "civilized people" stuff down their throats every chance they get.

In the computer world, we use the term "garbage in, garbage out" to refer to data errors.

In the real world, the garbage goes into the body but all too often not much of it comes out. Instead it accumulates, breaks down and forms toxins, and consequently clogs millions of cells and thus helps to develop both acute and chronic illness.

Medical science, unfortunately, often contributes to the clogging of the elimination system because modern antibiotics, which most people clamor for every time they visit their doctor, kill the beneficial bacteria that serve as scavengers and caretakers in our systems.

If you don't have a bowel populated with the proper microorganisms, much waste doesn't get processed correctly, and you end up constipated or worse.

Happily, the bowel flora in our systems can be rebuilt at home without having to bring in a team of expensive specialists.

Fermented foods play an important role in rebuilding and maintaining healthy bowel flora because they are rich in the microorganisms that contribute to properly functioning intestines.

I personally consider homemade sauerkraut the king of fermented foods, and when I take time to make it, we always have a big jug of it in the fridge.

Yes, the fridge with the clean, stainless steel handle.

You too can make sauerkraut in the privacy of your own home.

To do it, purchase several heads of cabbage (organic if you can get it). Those like me who consider sea salt a good thing will also want to use a tablespoon of sun-dried sea salt.

Grate the cabbage very fine, using one of those slicer/dicers that Ronco sells on TV, if you have one. If you don't use a knife, your juicer with the "blank," or whatever else will help you get the job done. Be prepared to make a huge mess.

Once you've grated the cabbage, place it all in a large stainless steel pot, a big one, the size you'd use to boil crawfish in if you lived in Louisiana and were hosting a family reunion of carnivores.

After you've tossed the cabbage in the pot, take your kid's baseball bat or a hunk of two by four borrowed from a local construction site and pound the cabbage until your arms start to swell.

Toss the salt on the cabbage, stir everything up with your hands, and then pound some more.

Mix with your hands a second time to make you've evenly distributed the salt.

Oh yes, wash your hands prior to making this recipe. Especially true if you just finished using the plumber's friend in the bathroom sink.

After you've pounded the cabbage -- it'll now have some liquid in it -- transfer the whole deal to a ceramic crock or glass jar and cover with three or four outside cabbage leaves.

You may need to add some salty water.

Weigh the outside leaves down with a plastic bag of water or with a plate with a brick on top if it. Cover the jar and the weights with a clean towel and leave at room temperature in a place where people won't be offended by possible strong odors.

Wait for three to seven days.

Open crock, discard outside leaves, taste kraut to make sure it's ready. Let it "cook" some another day or two if it's not. The longer you let it ferment, the more tart the kraut. When done, spoon into big jars, and refrigerate.

Have a big serving at least once a day. I like to have kraut and apples for lunch, several days a week.

If you'd shoot yourself and George Lucas and the entire Star War cast before you'd ever eat sauerkraut, you may want to consider adding a probiotic to your daily supplementation. I don't consider probiotics nearly as good as homemade sauerkraut or kefir or even yogurt made from cow or goat's milk that's not full of growth hormones, but a quality brand of probiotics will help to build healthy bowel flora.

In closing, pay attention to your bowel flora. Eat high fiber foods, drink lots of distilled or filtered water every day, and exercise for at least twenty minutes. Most people overlook this important aspect of health, and they pay mightily for their neglect with chronic constipation, various yeast problems, and a host of other modern ailments.

Disclaimer: Throughout this entire website, statements are made pertaining to the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.