When most people hear “fermented foods” they get an image of something that is a bit weird and unpalatable, however, there are many great tasting foods that are actually fermented; we just don’t realize it. Fermented foods are rich with probiotic bacteria. These foods are the best probiotic foods for our digestive system and gut health. Since a large portion of our immune system stems from the gut, eating a diet rich with probiotics can boost our overall immune system, helping us to combat illness and disease.
“Now, your gut is filled with trillions of good bacteria, but harmful microbes also reside there. This environment is known as your gut microbiome, and the microbes inside this environment are collectively known as the gut flora. Your gut health may be affected when the harmful microbes outnumber the good ones. An imbalance of good and bad microbes might lead to something known as “leaky gut syndrome.”
Dr. Gundry, who is considered one of the leading authorities on gut health says that “These good bacteria, or probiotics, help to reinforce the supply of beneficial microbes you already have in your gut, or gastrointestinal tract.” Here is how he explains it simply:
Leaky gut syndrome is when you have weaknesses in the lining of your intestines, which allow toxins to enter your digestive system.
The following fermented foods for a healthy gut can help you avoid this.
What is Fermented Food?
Fermentation was originally used to help food last longer. Items such as bread, cheese, wine, sauerkraut, and yogurt are all fermented. Fermented, or cultured, foods are made by letting them sit and interact with bacteria, yeast, and microbes. With time, the chemical structure of the food is changed, giving it a different taste, and allowing it to last much longer. In addition, the nutrients in the foods are maintained or heightened.
Pickles are often forgotten to be a fermented food. Made by combining cucumbers and brine, the end product is a sour pickle. While store-bought pickles are often made using vinegar, these are not truly fermented pickles; in order to contain probiotics, the pickle needs to be fermented.
You can either make your own at home, using a salt and water (brine) solution or look for jarred pickles in the store that specifically say “lactic acid fermented pickles.”
If you can’t find these in large chain supermarkets, check out your local health food store or farmers market. There is bound to be at least one homemade fermented pickle seller.
Kimchi or Sauerkraut
Kimchi is a fermented Korean dish made from cabbage. Similar to sauerkraut, with the base being cabbage, kimchi has a different flavor since it includes spices such as ginger, garlic, and other flavors.
Sauerkraut has both German and Chinese roots. Meaning “sour cabbage,” it is made from green or red cabbage and is fermented. Sauerkraut is an incredible source of many vitamins and minerals, as well as being high in fiber. While it’s an acquired taste, it is easy to make at home or can be found in virtually any store. The next time you have a hot dog, pile on the sauerkraut for an extra boost of vitamins A, B, C, and K.
Kefir and Yogurt
Kefir is a drinkable yogurt that is made from cow, goat, or sheep milk. As a fermented milk product, it is high in vitamin B12, as well as calcium. Many people who are prescribed antibiotics find that drinking kefir helps maintain their gut health by adding essential probiotics and enzymes.
While you can buy plain Kefir, there are some great varieties now, including strawberry and blueberry, that make it not only a healthy option, but also delicious.
Keep in mind, should you purchase Kefir, that it sometimes has a fizzy element to it. This is completely normal, as it is a sign of the fermentation process. Kefir also has an incredibly long shelf life, as opposed to regular milk.
If you prefer to use a spoon, traditional yoghurt is a great source of probiotic bacteria. Made the same way, from fermented milk, there are many varieties available. The best options are organic, made from grass-fed cow milk. If you struggle with digesting cow’s milk, you can find yoghurt made from goat or sheep milk as well. Just make sure that the ingredients specifically list “live bacteria” or that it states it is probiotic yoghurt.
Some of our most consumed foods are actually fermented. These foods are rich with probiotics and are the best probiotic foods for our digestive system and gut health. And they have an enormous benefit for our immune system. And thankfully, they taste great.
We hope you enjoyed this natural health article on how to improve digestion and gut health. Check out this article on how to beat anaemia, low iron and iron deficiency written by our editor, Alison Jane Reid – A Natural Approach To Anaemia and Low Iron