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- 19 September, 2019

Gut Health History: ACV, EVOO & Sauerkraut

The importance of your microbiome can’t be overstated. It’s so closely linked to overall health that looking after your gut health is like getting regular exercise! Often referred to as the ‘second brain‘, the gut is key in managing hormones, disease prevention and overall functioning.

Nowadays, most people have heard of probiotics and know to find them in fermented food and drink. It’s common knowledge that probiotics aid digestion. But way back, before kombucha and kefir were even a thing, our ancestors were dealing in the holy trinity of gut health living: apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut and extra virgin olive oil.

Ancient ACV

We talk a lot about the powerful properties of gut hero, apple cider vinegar. Humans throughout the ages have enjoyed the probiotic-enhancing, antioxidising benefits. We know, for example, that Samurai warriors used vinegar as an energy and strength boost. If it’s good enough for an elite fighting force, it’s good enough for us!

When life gives you lemons…

Vinegar as a foodstuff has been around since the Neolithic period. Since we could make vessels to hold food and drink, we’ve made drinks from fruits. Over time we discovered that wine, beer or cider left too long to oxidise would turn sour. Enter vinegar! A new kind of drink, a preserving agent and a healing store-cupboard staple.

Prescription Preserves

Vinegar appears in Hippocrates’ texts, so its use as medicine has been around at least since the ancient Greeks. Used to treat everything from fatigue to wounds, vinegar’s culinary uses are endless. We think ACV is the most flavourful of the vinegars and lends itself to the widest range of possibilities. Get your hit of gut healing zing into your daily practise in any number of ways: tonics, salads, shots, even cakes!

Sacred Sauerkraut

The wonderfood that is sauerkraut is a gut health history staple. Its exact origins are unclear (there are many regional varieties!), but there’s evidence of its inclusion in the diets of ancient Romans, Chinese dynasties and there are even stories of Ghenkis Khan bringing the tangy treat to the Europeans.

Okay, so we all know how delicious it is piled on top of a gorgeously warming curry, or keeping company with a cauliburger and sweet potato fries. But there’s so much more to a kraut than its crunchy freshness.

Cabbage cure

Fermenting and pickling of course were excellent ways to preserve food before the advent of refrigeration. On long journeys, voyagers would take fermented veg and drinks that would see them through. It’s well documented that Captain Cook never left home without a stash of sauerkraut once he realised its scurvy-preventing properties.

Sauerkraut had the potential to fend off scurvy thanks to its richness in vitamins C and K. It’s actually packed with goodness of all different types. Some health benefits you can still enjoy today:

  • Sauerkraut contains live lactobacilliand beneficial microbes (which our intestines love)
  • It’s rich in enzymes (aiding digestion and metabolism)
  • Cabbage is an excellent source of fibre
  • The fermentation and vinegar aspect promotes the kraut’s digestive potential (excellent for the growth of bowel flora)

To get the best from your kraut, it’s best to enjoy it unpasteurised and uncooked (like any of our Raw Krauts!).

Evolution of EVOO

Where would we be without every food’s bestie, extra virgin olive oil? Humans have delighted in the richness of this golden liquid for centuries. The importance and symbolism of EVOO is as significant as it is delicious. A gift from the Goddess Athena, the Romans used olive branches as a symbol of peace and valued the fruit so highly it was used as payment for taxes.

Accounts tell us olives were originally cultivated around 5000 BCE, or even earlier, on the ancient (now underwater) coast of Israel. Once it was discovered that oil could be pressed from the fruit there was no stopping early producers from squeezing those delicious little beauties and using the oil for everything from lamp oil to ritualistic anointing.

EVOO Elixir

Olive oil as a medicine bag basic has been around for an equally long time. The ancient Egyptians trusted its antibacterial properties in skincare and the Greeks cleansed newborn babies with it.

Today we know that extra virgin olive oil’s benefits are due to its nutritional composition, a mix of ‘good’ fatty acids that improve the functions of your gut and blood cells:

“The type of fat in the diet determinates the characteristics of gut microbiota, exerting a major role in the development of metabolic syndrome.”

And EVOO is just the right kind of fat you’re looking for in your diet. There’s a reason the Med diet is recommended by health advocates – the presence of olive oil being a major factor. As always, remember to invest in the highest quality oil you are able to. Our Raw Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil is as nature intended, bursting with a deep flavour and packed full of goodness.

Have a look around our gut heroes for inspiration. How do you keep your second brain happy and healthy? Have you got a fave gut-loving go-to recipe? Share your ideas with the raw foodie community online #rawfood #guthealth

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