Back to the Future with Sauerkraut

By Yvonne Quincey-de Guzman

The living bacteria in your gut can “talk” to your brain


As we know more about our bodies, our genes and what makes us tick, it is amazing how it all points back to where it started, with our ancestors. We now have new names, fancy articles and scholarly medical reviews for age-old concepts our forbearers knew intuitively. One more time, we go back to the future here at Lewis & Son.

While developing our FODMAP Friendly meat and charcuterie line, we became acutely aware of the importance of bioavailability. To absorb the good nutrients and fats, one’s stomach lining and guts must be healthy. According to board-certified, licensed nutritionist and a professionally-trained chef Monica Reinagel, strategically combining certain foods can actually influence how effectively your body is absorbing the nutrients. If the Lewis & Son team really wanted to complete its mission of bringing delicious, nutritious, top-quality, old-world-style, artisan, grass-fed, locally farmed, smoked and natural meats to the marketplace, and have it be fully appreciated, we would need to create a culinary counterpart to ensure those nutrients would be absorbed, just as the products’ creators intended. People should not only feel good about what they are eating; they should feel good while they were eating it (and 6-14 hours after they eat it). To allow that nutritional gold to be lost down the toilet, total pun intended, would be unethical and a travesty.

Around that same time, remarkable information was flooding the internet, medical journals and talk shows about sauerkraut and ferments. People were blogging. Dieticians, doctors, fitness trainers and health professionals were telling their patients and clients to go eat this miracle curative—Sauerkraut!  Krauts have been reported to support our immune system,; alleviate anxiety, depression, allergies, panic attacks, skin problems, IBS and more.

It only makes sense. Dodger Dogs, New York Hot Dog Carts, Germans, Genghis Kahn and my mother—what do they all have in common? They are all famous for their sauerkraut and sausage combos. Not only do their reputations for excellence and domination on a world stage precede them, they clearly knew something important before any of their contemporaries, sauerkraut and sausages rocks.

Since 7000 BC, krauts and ferments have been a staple in the diets of our distant relatives in Asia. By 200 BC, our European cousins had a line on the goods and joined the fermentation party, sharing the joys of sauerkraut and sausage in cities, towns and all over the countryside. In 1907, the introduction of the concept of ‘probiotic’ is generally attributed to Nobel recipient Élie Metchnikoff. He first suggested the possibility of colonizing the gut with beneficial flora in the early 20th century. 2013 – ‘Psychobiotics’ defined by Timothy G. Dinan, Catherine Stanton, and John F. Cryan, as those living organisms that on sufficient ingestion produces a health benefit in those patients with psychiatric, or neurological, illnesses. July 2016 – A systematic review of 15 human randomized controlled trials found that certain commercially available strains of probiotic bacteria possess treatment efficacy (i.e., improved behavioral outcomes) in certain central nervous system disorders – including anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder – and improved certain aspects of memory. (1) (2) The past, present and future all pointed at sauerkraut, the key in unlocking the bioavailability of that top-shelf Lewis & Son meat.

What would be a better Ginger Rogers for our Fred Astaire? In this case, it is more like Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett. Sauerkraut is, was, and will always be the perfect partner for Lewis & Son FODMAP Friendly meats and charcuterie. Soon we had a line of Lewis & Son krauts to accompany our burgeoning meat range. Why is sauerkraut so fantastic you ask?

The living bacteria in your gut can “talk” to your brain, leading experts to believe that this is the new frontier in neuroscience. The gut microbiome, the collective of all your gut microbes, can manipulate the signals to the brain. The prebiotics and probiotics found in sauerkraut, and other fermented foods, act as Psychobiotics.

Described in Trends in NeuroscienceVolume 39, Issue 11, p763–781, November 2016

Psychobiotics exert anxiolytic and antidepressant effects characterised by changes in emotional, cognitive, systemic, and neural indices. Bacteria–brain communication channels through which psychobiotics exert effects include the enteric nervous system and the immune system.

Dysfunction in the gut-brain axis and disruptions to gut health have been linked to psychiatric conditions like anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disorders. In these modern times, we have reason to be concerned.  Disruption to the balance of gut bacteria (called dysbiosis) is commonplace due to the use of antibiotics, medication exposures, poor food and water quality, artificial preservatives, gluten, herbicides, stress, and infection. (3) (4) (5) (6)

Jo Grabyn, of Bounce Matters - Brain & Mental Health, An Integrative Approach, in Manly NSW, advocates in her practice that a key factor in the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s is through gut health, specifically krauts and ferments. Her favorite Lewis & Son ferment is the Beetroot Kraut, just ask her.

Not all krauts are FODMAP Friendly or gluten free. Some are pasteurized, which kills the good bacteria, and some have additives and other artificial ingredients. To reap the psychbiotic effects of sauerkraut, it is best to consume natural, raw, lacto-fermented krauts and ferments, like any in our Lewis & Son range. If you are you are on a low FODMAP diet,  Lewis & Son Sauerkraut has just received the world’s first and only FODMAP Friendly Certification for a sauerkraut. Also, endorsed by the Coeliac Association, this tasty and gluten-free sauerkraut will heal your gut and be responsive to your personal needs. Strong, sensitive and smells good—what more do you want in a sauerkraut?

Krauts are easy and versatile to work into your eating plan. Eat as a snack or side dish. Use as a condiment or mix into your favorite salad. On a sandwich, with eggs or served with sausage, sauerkraut is loyal follower you can rely on anywhere, anytime, anyplace. Like a good book, close friendship or favorite song, sauerkraut stands the test of time and just keeps getting better.

So next time you are feeling a bit low, foggy or anxious, go back to ancient history and remember the kraut. The average German eats nearly 2kg of sauerkraut a year. Koreans eat just over 22kg person, per year. You only need a couple of forkfuls per day to keep your tummy and guts ticking over. Pyschbiotics, who knew our future would be rooted in our past.S



3: Anxiety and Depression: Linkages with Viral Diseases. Coughlin, S. Public Health Reviews34(2), 92.

4: Anxiety and Panic Attacks – Causes and Corrections. Wilson, L. (2016).

5: Linking Clostridium difficile infection with depression. Purslow, C. (2001). Public Health Reviews, (8):763.

6: The Brain-Gut Connection: A Link between Depression and common hospital-acquired infection. Mostafavi, B. (2013).




In honour of this fantastic blog by Yvonne, we are offering 25% off the already low price of our Wild Fermented & Raw,Sauerkraut via our webstore.