Have you ever wondered why pickles and/or fermented foods were traditionally presented with a plate of food?
It seems almost all cultures around the world used some type of pickle or fermented food; in Japan they ate takuan and oshinko pickles, and umeboshi plums; Korea is famous for it’s Kimchi; throughout Europe, dill, sour and garlic pickles were the flavor; in Germany it was sauerkraut; Russian people ate kefir, pickled cabbage, and beets; and people in the Mediterranean dined on olives and yogurt.
Humans prepared pickles and fermented foods to preserve them, but important chemical reactions took place creating notable health benefits in the process.
Naturally fermented foods are considered “probiotics” and promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestines, increase overall nutrition of food, aid digestion, and support the immune system.
Probiotics are essential to good health, especially with the widespread abuse of antibiotics in our modern society. Antibiotics are prescribed for everything from colds to earaches to toenail fungus. And, if you think there’s no need to worry about this problem because you haven’t taken any antibiotics lately, think again!
The animals we eat (factory-farmed cows, poultry, pigs, and fish), are overdosed with antibiotics because they live in unhealthy and overcrowded conditions, and are chronically sick. If my food source has been overdosed with antibiotics, then I have been, as well.
The problem with antibiotic abuse in our modern system is that it enters the body like an atom bomb and wipes out all bacteria: the harmful bacteria that cause infections, and the beneficial bacteria needed to maintain healthy intestinal flora.
After the antibiotic atom bomb detonates inside your body there are always mutant survivors. Yes, that’s right, mutant bacteria inside the body.
If that mutant bacteria population outgrows the beneficial bacteria, serious problems like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Candida Yeast overgrowth, cancer, and many other degenerative conditions are in the perfect environment to develop and take over your body.
“Sauerkraut eliminates disease-causing bad bacteria and reintroduces good bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. Such friendly bacteria, which are often destroyed by antibiotic residues in our food, are necessary for healthy digestion and proper elimination of waste products.” 
If your digestion isn’t good or has been compromised in some way, don’t get stuck in a pickle… just eat one.
Not all pickled foods are created equal though. Re-colonizing the intestines with good intestinal flora begins with buying raw, unpasteurized, naturally fermented products that can be found in the refrigerated section of the nearest neighborhood health food store or other market.
Keep in mind that modern foods pickled in vinegar and sugar just don’t have the same healing effect on the body as a good old fashioned salt brine pickle.
If you’re feeling adventurous, make your own pickles. It’s pretty easy. Below is a link to a simple recipe for homemade sauerkraut. Enjoy a tablespoon or two with your dinner and you’ll begin feeling the benefits before you know it.
 Source: “The Cultured Cabbage,” by Klaus Kaufmann and Annelies Schoneck, Alive Books, 1997, p. 59.
Andrea Beaman is an internationally renowned Holistic Health Coach, Natural Foods Chef, Speaker, Herbalist and best-selling author. Named one of the top 100 Most Influential Health and Fitness Experts, she is also a recipient of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Award for Excellence in Health-Supportive Education and a Health Leadership award from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Since 1999, Andrea has been teaching people how to harness the body’s own preventative and healing powers using food, herbal remedies and alternative medicine.
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