Gut Health and Fermented Foods

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By McKenna Redmore, RIT Senior Dietetic Student

Reviewed by: Tami Best, MS, RDN, CDN

If you are struggling with constant stomach pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea you may not be properly feeding your gut! Fermented foods have started to become a widely talked about topic in the nutrition world. Research shows that naturally fermented foods can help the gut in several different ways such as increasing gut microbiota diversity, enriching microbiota with probiotics, and by delivering beneficial compounds to the gut. This may seem like a lot to understand so let’s break it down! Gut microbiome is made up of millions of bacteria and microorganisms living inside of our digestive tract. The microbiome inside of our digestive tract help our immune systems to thrive and work properly. Eating fermented foods essentially feeds the good bacteria helping it to do its job.

Naturally fermented foods go through a process where microorganisms like yeast and bacteria convert starch and sugars into alcohol and acids. Fermented foods are great for the body because they give the body a dose of healthy probiotics which are essential for healthy digestion.

It may sound intimidating to try something new but there are a lot of foods that you may not even know are fermented. Common fermented foods include:

  • Yogurt, look for “live and active culture” seal on the yogurt to know if they contain probiotics. Choose varieties with lower sugar content (Less than 13 grams per container is preferred).
  • Kombucha, a refreshing fermented tea
  • Sauerkraut,
  • Pickles,
  • Sourdough bread,
  • Kimchi, made from fermented and salted cabbage. Kimchi can be eaten as a side dish or added to fried rice or salad.
  • Miso, a salty paste that is commonly used in Japanese dishes. Miso is commonly used in miso soup.
  • Some cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan, and swiss

Adding any of these food items into your diet daily may help alleviate unwanted stomach symptoms. When deciding which fermented foods you want to try, make sure they are made with live organisms. It’s common for foods to be fermented using vinegar which doesn’t contain probiotics. The general guideline is to add in as many fermented foods into you daily diet as possible. Ideally have one different fermented food daily to introduce a wide variety of probiotics.

I usually like to drink a bottle of Kombucha a day to get my daily dose of probiotics. You can even try making your own fermented foods at home. The kitchn is a great tool to use if you’re looking for new recipes to try out, I can’t wait to try out the homemade Cabbage Kimchi recipe.


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