What are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods go through a lacto-fermentation process where bacteria and yeast break down starch and sugars. This not only helps enhance food preservation, but also produces a number of beneficial enzymes, B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and various species of good bacteria genetically similar to strains used in probiotics. This makes eating fermented foods an easy way to support a healthy gut microbiome.
Examples of Fermented Foods
A few examples of popular and easy to find fermented foods are kimchi, kefir, tempeh, kombucha, miso, pickles, some cheeses, sauerkraut, and probiotic yogurt.
What are the Benefits of Fermented Foods?
There are a number of potential health benefits associated with consuming fermented foods. These foods that are rich in probiotic bacteria help add beneficial microorganisms and enzymes to the intestinal floral, which not only promotes a healthy gut and digestion, but a healthy immune system as well. A large proportion of immune cells live in the lining of the GI tract, and the probiotic bacteria supplied by fermented foods may help strengthen the immune system by supporting intestinal permeability and barrier function. Probiotic foods are also helpful after a round of antibiotics, as the number and diversity of healthy microbes in the gut may have suffered during the course of treatment as antibiotics kill both ‘bad’ and ‘good’ bacteria. Eating fermented foods for a healthy gut may also play a significant role in benefitting overall health and wellness, as the state and diversity of the gut microbiome has been linked with mood, behavior, energy, weight, food cravings, hormone balance, immunity, and more.
If I Eat Fermented Foods, should I still take Probiotics?
There isn’t a fixed recommended daily intake for probiotics, and no exact science as to which fermented foods, and at what quantity, is best for supporting gut health. A good guideline would be to try to incorporate as many fermented foods into your daily diet, with or without probiotics.