It seems almost all cultures around the world have used some type of pickle or other fermented food; in Japan they ate takuan and oshinko pickles, and umeboshi plums; Korea is famous for it’s kimchee (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 ear aches 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 causes 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. Eeek! If that mutant bacteria population outgrows the beneficial bacteria, serious problems like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Candida Yeast overgrowth, cancer and many other degenerative conditions are in the perfect environment to develop and take over your body.
Natural probiotics found in fermented foods and traditionally pickled foods contain beneficial bacteria that aid the digestion of food and have amazing health benefits, too. “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.