Most of us have had pickles on a hamburger or with a deli sandwich but other fermented foods are beginning to take the spotlight for some of their health benefits. Your digestive system (often referred to as your “gut”) depends on good bacteria to help it break down food and keep your body’s systems in good working order. Unfortunately, our modern diet and other environmental factors do not always support this good bacteria.
Fermented food is a great way to help living organisms keep the bad bacteria in check and to balance your gut health. These are some of the most popular types of fermented foods should you be looking for a way to introduce fermentation into your diet.
Of course when most Americans hear “pickles”, what we think of is pickled cucumbers. You can actually pickle a lot of different fruits and vegetables. To have impact on gut health, make sure you pickle in brine, not vinegar. Vinegar is good for preserving food but a salt water brine will actually increase the amount of good bacteria in the food, transferring those benefits to you.
Fermentation actually releases many of the nutrients from cabbage like vitamins C and K, calcium, magnesium, folate, iron, potassium, copper and manganese. But the German Classic also contains many bacteria that are beneficial to gut health.
Yogurt has long been touted by health gurus for its benefits and ability to restore good bacteria to your gut. With so many options for yogurt on the market, remember that over processed, preservative laden, sweetened and pasteurized yogurt offers little nutritional benefit. Try this yogurt recipe at home with all natural ingredients.
This fermented paste adds bold flavor to any dish. Made from barley, rice or soybeans, it ads an umami flavor to dishes. Though Miso is great for gut health, it’s also high in sodium, so a little goes a long way.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish that’s been around for a long time. Cabbage, radish, scallion and cucumber are all combined and fermented to make a dish that is high in vitamin C, fiber and several carotenes.
Kombucha is a fermented drink that is made of sweet black or green tea. The bacteria and yeast feed off the sugars and work together to ferment this drink.
Kefir is made similarly to Kombucha but with milk instead of tea. Although lactose is not usually a problem after fermentation, kefir can also be made with coconut milk.
Another version of fermented soybeans, this dish has a slightly nutty flavor. Great for vegetarians because it’s a complete source of vegetarian protein but anyone can get the probiotic benefits from tempeh.