Sunday Health Hack No. 4 – Sauerkraut your gut!

Next to Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), Sauerkraut should become an “evergreen” in your diet staple.

Sunday Health Hack No. 4 – Have a couple of forks of (raw) Sauerkraut before every lunch and dinner.

As mentioned in my ACV health hack (No. 3) “prevention” and a “happy, healthy lifestyle” starts with your “gut health”, and I talked about the importance of “fermented foods” for the gut.

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. It’s a “pre-biotic”, feeding the gut-bacteria with yummy fibres, and it’s a “pro-biotic” as well, adding “good bacteria” to your gut-lining.

Probiotics are bacteria that provide powerful health benefits as they act as the first line of defence against toxins and harmful bacteria.
Your gut is said to contain over 100 trillion microorganisms or “gut flora,” which is more than 10 times the total number of cells in your body.
Regular Probiotic supplements may contain anywhere from 1–50 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per dose. As does just 10 grams of sauerkraut (1-2 forks).

Sauerkraut is also a great “gut cleaner”. Meaning it cleans the gut-linings from all the waste, non-digested food left-overs, toxins, pathogens and other “unfriendly” microbes. This increases your gut’s ability to (finally) absorb nutrients like vitamins or minerals much better. Additionally, Sauerkraut contains a variety of enzymes itself and also kickstarts the pancreas to release further enzymes, which help break down nutrients into even smaller, more easily digestible molecules.

All this goes along with a better bowl movement and increased digestive juice production, which also offers a much quicker satiation and prevents bloatedness (and over-eating).

Sidenote: Antibiotics destroy or at least disturb your gut flora. So just in case you had to or will have to take antibiotics in the future, get some extra XL servings of Sauerkraut the days after. The Probiotics in sauerkraut will profoundly help you to re-balance your messed-up gut-flora.

Sauerkraut also comes along with a good amount of Vitamin C and Vitamin K2, and a long (long) list of minerals. All, again, an additional great booster for your immune system.

A word regarding the importance of Vitamin K2 – Most certainly you’ve read that you need to drink more milk and eat more dairy products for your sufficient “Calcium” intake and healthy bones.
Wrong. Simply put – dairy products put your body in an “acid” state. To balance this out the body needs for a rather complicated chemical process much more Calcium than it got from the dairy source. And worst case, your body sucks the Calcium out of your bones to provide for this vital acid-base balance.

Apparently with a “normal” diet your Calcium intake is actually sufficient. The problem is that the Calcium is often going to the wrong places, even potentially clogging your arteries if it doesn’t find a place where it’s needed. That’s where Vitamin K comes into play which functions as sort of a “Calcium commando bridge” or “regulator”, getting the Calcium to all the places within your body where it is needed most.

Sunday Health Hack No. 4 – Have a couple of forks of (raw) Sauerkraut before every lunch and dinner.

Most probably you are familiar with the salad side-dish before lunch and/or dinner. Now swap this with Sauerkraut. At least at home.
But even when I go to a restaurant or when I travel I always take along a little box (500ml) of Sauerkraut. The good bacteria in your gut are very sensitive and prone to stress. Traveling is always in some way stressful to your body. Not to mention the “un-clean” food choices at airports, train stations, hotels, street restaurants etc. which play havoc with your digestive system (Thus, Traveling “health choices” will be a topic of a future Health Hack for sure).

And until today no restaurant waiter or waitress has refused to allow me picking a bit of Sauerkraut from my box before the meal. Quite the opposite.

Extra-Tipp: Next time you go to a restaurant with a client, offer him/her some of your Sauerkraut before the meal. Following and benefiting from the Golden Rule – Happy gut, happy customer! 🙂

Raw not cooked – Quality matters again!

First, don’t cook Sauerkraut or buy Sauerkraut which has been pasteurized, and don’t eat boiled Sauerkraut in a restaurant etc.. Heat destroys all the above mentioned benefits of Sauerkraut.

It’s got to be “raw” but because of the long fermentation process it’s quite “munchy”, and not “crispy” (hard to chew on) like the regular iceberg lettuce or coleslaw.

Of course, again, the more “organic” the better. “Raw” Sauerkraut in the supermarket is most often pasteurised. But you will find Sauerkraut on almost every farmer’s market and health food store in “honest”, fresh quality. And also again, it’s cheap. So no excuse not to dive into Sauerkraut regularly, for profiting from its multiple (gut and overall health) benefits.

Sauer & Gut,  Andreas

Always trust your gut! Your brain might play tricks, your heart may be blind, but your gut is always right.

Let’s create a “Hotel Paradiso” for your good bacteria in your gut with Sauerkraut. Offering its host (you) much appreciation and “amore”. By the way, “Cinema Paradiso” is also a lovely movie to watch again on one of these still dark, cold, wet “couch” Sundays.

Sunday Health Hack No. 3 – Apple Cider Vinegar, Your secret (health) weapon

Okay, let’s shift gears now a bit. Many knew that this was coming as a priority – Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).

Sunday Health Hack No. 3 – Add ½ – 1 tablespoon of ACV to your water (Health Hack No.1) with Lemon spritz (No.2).

I am all about “gut health first”. It’s in your gut where your “immune-system” is primarily located, and even your second (first) “brain”.

Yep, there are tons of studies out there which prove that even “depressions”, caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, most often have actually their roots in a “broken” gut-system, and that fixing the diet led to major improvements with many (moody) patients. The same accounts for chronic headaches or even migraines.

There is a scientifically established “gut-brain axis “which points out a direct bidirectional relationship between the gastrointestinal (GI) and the central nervous system (CNS).
Simply put, the connections between the gut and the brain mean that when the gut is unhappy, the brain (YOU) is unhappy too. Worst case is that even your cognition could decline.

Additionally, a mal-functioning gut impairs your ability to absorb nutrients from food, your physical performance (and energy levels) suffers, and your immune system takes a hit.
No good in these Corona times and winter/flu season.

Fermented foods are the basic tools for establishing a “healthy gut”. And Apple Cider Vinegar is fermented apple juice. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar creates a happy environment in your digestive system which your gut flora will appreciate, nourish, and flourish on.

But ACV can do so much more – it lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity (by levelling out the “sugar” spikes and drops), it lowers cholesterol, it lowers blood pressure and improves heart health, or it also helps to lose weight by increasing satiety as well as suppressing a process called lipogenesis (fat storage). And there are animal studies which showed that ACV even slows down the growth of cancer cells.

Bottomline – ACV should become / be a part of your daily (diet) regiment no matter for what reason.

Sidenote – You might even remember that your “grandma” used ACV for “everything”, not only for the salad dressing or in the lentil soup, but for cleaning the dishes, or even as a skin care product. She had her (many) reasons, which had been passed on for generations, but which have been buried in oblivion in the last decades thanks to (again) huge marketing efforts that it is eg. much “nicer” to put some (chemical) odorous hair shampoo on your head against dandruffs instead of the much cheaper ACV which has got the same effect.

But let’s focus on the “intestinal” health benefits for now.

Sunday Health Hack No. 3 – ACV & How to use it.

You may remember Hack No.1, how to drink more water, and No.2, pimping up your water with some lemon spritz. Well, now you just add ½ – 1 tablespoon of ACV to the water too. That’s it!

And no worries, the ACV will be so diluted that you neither will smell the “vinegar” nor will the acid endanger your teeth. Again, it’s not about the “amount” you drink once but about (little) consistency which will offer you the benefits.

But there are a couple of specific occasions during the day you should specifically focus on having ACV –

First thing in the morning. Your liver releases glucose during the night, thus your sugar-levels are elevated in the morning. ACV calms it down / levels it out. And you loose the urge to dash for the next pile of pancakes bathed in maple syrup.

Next, before and after each meal, again primarily for holding your sugar-spikes in check, but also for improving your digestion system.

Eventually, for me, it became such a habit that I put ACV in all my drinks (not in my coffee, tea or wine though), even in my workout-drink with a “use body-fat for extra energy” effect, I put ACV in all soups and sauces, in the salad dressing of course, and I even use it as a (antibacterial) skincare-product.

Extra Travel hack – I always have a small bottle (300ml) with me on my business trips, filled 50/50 fresh-pressed lemon juice and ACV. I put some of this mix in my water at the airport, train or hotel. And if I do meet people in a restaurant I just order still water for drinks, get the bottle with my lemon/ACV-mix out of my bag und add some drops to my water. Of course, most at the table curiously want to try it too. So it’s a nice “ice-breaker” for a good conversation as well :-). 

Quality matters
It is understood that you rather spend one or two bucks more on a good quality, organic ACV in a local health store or farmers market which is as “cloudy” as possible. Especially these “cloudy” tannins (polyphenols) add an extra layer onto all the ACV benefits.
ACV is cheap. So going for a quality product which might be double as expensive as the standard industrial ACV in the supermarket still won’t ruin you, but it makes all the difference.

Vine & dine,  Andreas

The only impossible journey is the one you never begin!

Well, let’s free your gut bacteria, shall we?!

Sunday Health Hack No. 2 – Pimp up your water (healthy)

Sunday Health Hack No. 2 – Pimp up your water (Health Hack No.1) with some Lemon “spritz”.

Okay, I hear you – In regard to my Sunday Hack No. 1 many will complain “Drinking still water is boring!” And I am 100% with you. So let’s pimp it up a little bit.

But first let me emphasize that we need to become aware that we all are totally “over-sugared” too. Meaning in this case, our tastebuds are out of whack. And I will come back to this “sugar issue” in many other hacks again in the future.

So pure, plain and simple water often tastes like “nothing” for many. And that’s another reason why many need “sparkling water” for at least some kind of “sensation”. 🙁

First, also find a “local spring” in your area / county. Quality matters, “quality” water already tastes totally different. Don’t buy your mineral water in the supermarket if possible. For example, by law “spring” water may contain eg. max. 10µg/liter of “lead” (most have none though) whereas “mineral water” in the supermarket may contain four times as much (40µg/liter). This doesn’t sound like much but it accumulates badly over time. And Foodwatch even found for children critical amounts of Uranium in well-known brands like San Pellegrino or Perrier.

Of course it goes without saying that the water should be bottled in glass NOT PET, for much too many (bad) reasons to have them all listed here!

Lucky us, we do have several “springs” in our region, and I order my “still drinking water” from these local water companies most often even directly. And I also use it for my coffee and tea (and even ice cubes).

If you can’t find any or even don’t have any local springs, put some effort in googling for a company which bottles water from an “artesian spring” nearest by (state, country).
“Artesian” means that the water pushed itself up, taking all the good minerals with it, and wasn’t pulled out from down-earth by force.
It’s really worth the little extra effort (and money). Because you don’t really wanna know what’s in the supermarket-water, in your tap-water (despite the many claims of your local water-company) or sometimes even worse in your home’s water-pipes. But despite, your tastebuds will tell the big difference too.
And again, I often wonder why people are prepared to pay a “fortune” for “sugary liquids” (Cola etc.) but sneer if they have to pay an extra dime for pure high quality water.

Sidenote: For cooking (pasta water etc.) I use regular tap-water in combination with a good water-filter just to be safe.

Another sidenote: I know there are many other ways how to additionally “improve” your water like extra alkalisation or oxygenation etc.. But, as emphasized, let’s keep it simple here.

Second, get some organic lemons. Some for at home, and some for the office. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze a couple of “spritzers” into your “boring, still water”. Just some drops so that the water gets a nice “twist” but is not too bitter.

That’s the “taste” part. Now let’s have a look into the additional “health benefits” of drinking “lemon water”.

Most might know that lemons contain Vitamin C. A couple of lemon drops into one glass of water is not much of course. But if you follow the Sunday Hack No. 1 and you do have ~10 small extra glasses of water every day, these few drops accumulate to a real nice dose of extra Vitamin C daily.

Some science background if I may – Vitamin C supports the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help protect the body against infection, and Vitamin C also helps these white blood cells function more effectively while protecting them from damage.

That’s why your mom used to bring you a “hot lemon water with honey” when you were a kid lying in bed with a bad cold.

But foremost Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can strengthen your body’s natural defences. Antioxidants are molecules that boost the immune system. They do so by protecting cells from harmful molecules called free radicals which are the root cause for many diseases. And these antioxidant compounds also have a positive effect on blood glucose levels and improved insulin resistance, the two main factors in the development of type 2 diabetes as well as obesity.
Meaning, adding some lemon into your water may even further support weight loss. 🙂

And in Ayurvedic medicine it is said that the sour lemon taste helps stimulate your “agni”. A strong agni jump-starts the digestive system, allowing you to digest food more easily which also helps to prevent the buildup of toxins. And a strong agni is of major support for your liver in its critical detoxification process.

But that’s enough background information for today. I will refer to above mentioned topics like antioxidants or insulin resistance in future Sunday Hacks again because they are of huge importance for our health.

So, to wrap it up – today’s Sunday Health Hack No. 2 is A) please find a good source of “spring water”, as local as possible, and B) “upgrade” your water with a “spritz” of (organic) lemon juice, freshly squeezed.

Again, as I have and will emphasize all the time, this doesn’t require any changes in your current lifestyle, but it may have a very positive effect on your overall ”system” (health).

And if your colleagues snitch one of your lemons from the office kitchen, be happy for them, knowing you did something good for their well-being.

Sweet & Sour,  Andreas

Quote of the Day
When Life gives you Lemons, sweeten it with Gratitude!

Music of the Day
A nice lemonade is made for a summer storm –