As medical researchers learn more about gut microbiomes -- the communities of bacteria in our digestive system -- it becomes clearer that we need to ingest certain types of bacteria to keep everything in working order.
That’s where fermented foods often come into play, because they are oozing with so-called “good” bacteria. The list of such foods is longer than you might realize, ranging from buttermilk to beer.
An article on the Diets in Review website explains that food preserved through fermentation tends to contain microorganisms that are good for the gut.
Fermentation breaks down carbohydrates into easily digestible forms and leads to the reproduction of even more good bacteria once they are in our digestive system.
Not only is fermentation considered an aid to the absorption of nutrients, it also assists bacteria in the intestines in producing nutrients, such as B vitamins, vitamins C and K, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
In the article, registered dietitian Mary Hartley recommended the following fermented foods for your shopping list:
- Brined vegetables such as sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers, beets, kimchi and olives; pickled meats, fish and eggs; yogurt, cheese, kefir, sour cream and buttermilk; and miso and tempeh.
- Kombucha tea is popular in the health food aisle these days. It’s a fermented beverage that often comes bottled in fruit flavors.
It doesn’t always get rave reviews from medical experts, though.
Dr. Brent A. Bauer, writing on the Mayo Clinic’s Q and A webpage, says kombucha tea has not yet lived up to its health claims of better digestion and liver function.
In fact, the beverage has been associated with stomach upset, allergic reactions and infections in some users.
For more traditional tastes in beverages, though, it’s good to know beer and wine are included on the fermented foods list.
Just remember that there are several instances when you should consult a dietitian or medical practitioner before you embark on your own personal fermented foods festival.
You might have certain food intolerances or allergies that make fermented foods a problem.