Fermented foods are trending.
And for a good reason.
In 2018, Dr. Justin Sonnenburg published research providing evidence that eating fermented-foods increases microbiome diversity (even more than fiber!) and decreases inflammation.
Despite the recent ferment craze, the idea of eating cultured food is not new.
Humans have been fermenting foods for centuries. Fermentation preserves food (remember, we didn’t always have refrigeration). As a bonus, those microbes make the food more digestible and nutritious.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to enjoy live-culture foods yet, below is a list of the 10 fermented foods you must try!
- Sauerkraut* — fermented cabbage that naturally contains the probiotic lactobacillus acidophilus
- Pickles* — fermented cucumbers
- Kimchi — a combination of fermented Asian vegetables
*Note: For the most benefit, you’ll want to purchase these items from the refrigerator section of the grocery store. While the shelf-stable products you find in the middle aisle of the grocery store were grown with probiotics, those microbes were destroyed by heat when the product was pasteurized to extend shelf-life.
Live-culture dairy products
- Sour cream
- Buttermilk (plain, no added sugar, with live and active cultures)
- Miso (which may also include fermented rice)
- Kombucha (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, SCOBY)
Health benefits of fermented foods
The human digestive system is home to trillions of microbes—mainly bacteria, but also viruses and fungi. These microbes are essential to human health and affect many aspects of our health.
- Gut bacteria impact our metabolism by helping us digest our food and by producing beneficial nutritional metabolites like vitamins, amino acids, and short chain fatty acids.
- A healthy microbiome helps you resist infection. In fact, gut microbes start educating your immune system the moment you are born.
- The gut microbiome may even affect our behavior through the gut-brain axis.
All of this to say, our microbes are important and it behooves us to nourish and support them. One way to support a healthy gut microbiome is to regularly consume fermented foods.
Want to learn more ways to optimize your gut microbiome?
Check out this blog post: 7 Ways to Optimize Your Gut Microbiome, Backed by Research