The 9 Best Fermented Foods for Your Gut

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on , Last Updated on

A wooden bowl of sauerkraut. Fermented foods like sauerkraut aren’t the most popular food but it's great for the gut.Fermented food has made a comeback in recent years, partially thanks to the popularization of Weston A. Price teachings. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi aren’t considered to be the most appealing types of food; however, research exploring these and other fermented products on gut, brain, and body health has revitalized public interest. The fermentation process encourages essential bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria to flourish. This makes fermentation a good source of probiotics for vegans, since many fermented foods are plant based. Vegetables are submerged in a salty brine during preparation to kill off dangerous, pathogenic bacteria. The good bacteria break down lactose and other sugars and starches in the food, making digestion easier. And once they reach your gut, they continue to help break down food and keep out bad guys like E. coli and C. difficile.

The Best Fermented Foods

When it comes to fermented foods, your options aren’t limited to sauerkraut or fermented soy. There are other fantastic options that are considered “fermented,” including tea, yogurt, and various vegetables. Here are 9 fermented foods you should include in your gut.

1. Yogurt

Yogurt has many benefits, mostly due to its rich probiotic content. Brands of yogurt that contain billions of live active cultures may support digestion, and some research indicates it could even benefit the skin.[1] Raw, unpasteurized yogurt is ideal if you can handle dairy. Personally, I tend to skip dairy altogether, but you can find dairy-free yogurt options at many stores these days, some of which are made from coconut and almond milk. Be sure you’re choosing yogurt that contains live active cultures, and try to choose plain, full-fat versions in order to avoid sugar. Yogurt that contains sugar can be counterproductive, as sugars feed pathogenic bacteria and contribute to sugar overload.

2. Natto

Natto is prepared with soybeans and is fermented so it forms the beneficial bacteria Bacillus. It’s an excellent source of calcium, iron, dietary fiber, and vitamin K2. You may not have heard a lot about it, but K2 is essential for heart health as it keeps calcium out of your arteries and gets it to your bones where it’s needed. Natto also contains nattokinase, a powerful anti-clotting agent that protects your heart and brain and lowers your blood pressure.

3. Kefir

Kefir is a bit like yogurt, except that it’s more of a drinkable consistency. Researchers report kefir may reduce irritation in the intestines, preventing toxins and other pathogens from getting into the blood.[2] If you’re choosing to drink dairy kefir, make sure it’s organic and isn’t loaded with refined sugar. There are options for making your own dairy-free water kefir, and many health food companies online sell kefir grains specifically for this purpose. You can also check out our recipe for making coconut milk kefir.

4. Kombucha

Made from tea, clean water, sugar, yeast, and bacteria, kombucha has become popular recently for its probiotic qualities. Its fizzy bite is also popular among those used to drinking soda. Research finds this fermented tea fights off E. coli and Staph bacteria in the digestive tract, possibly protecting against illness and aiding digestion.[3]

5. Sauerkraut

Traditional sauerkraut preparation uses water, salt, and cabbage, and very little heat is applied to the final product in order to prevent killing off beneficial microbes. The sour taste comes from lacto-fermentation, or the breakdown of lactose by the probiotic bacteria native to the cabbage. A serving gives you a powerful dose of healthy probiotics that aid digestion, and research has found raw sauerkraut prevents cancer cells from forming.[4] Be sure to purchase raw sauerkraut, or better yet, make it yourself with organic cabbage and Himalayan salt.

6. Kimchi

This spicy Asian fermented cabbage, similar to sauerkraut, provides you with loads of probiotics. Extensive research indicates it contributes to colon health, lower cholesterol, better thinking, a stronger immune system, healthy skin, and weight loss. Additional research also shows it has anti-oxidative, anti-aging, and immune-supporting properties.[5]

7. Tempeh

This Indonesian ‘cake’ has a nutty flavor and chewy texture, and because of this, it is often used as a replacement for meat in many vegan recipes. Traditionally made from soybeans and a yeast starter, it undergoes controlled fermentation that makes it a great source of probiotic bacteria. Tempeh is also a great source of calcium, iron, and magnesium.

8. Pickles

Raw pickles, much like sauerkraut, are a great introduction to fermented foods. Pickles made by lacto-fermentation are a delicious snack that aid digestion and support a strong immune system.

9. Lassi

Yogurt and fermented dairy play an important role in Indian cuisine. Lassi is made by combining yogurt and milk (or water) and sometimes fruit and spices to create a great probiotic-rich drink. It digests quickly, helps restore friendly gut bacteria, and soothes irritation in the colon. Again, I don’t recommend consuming conventional dairy, especially from cows. If you are going to drink lassi, it’s best to find a product using grass-fed, free-range goat milk. Goat milk tends to digest more easily. If you’re vegan, try finding or making lassi with organic coconut or almond milk yogurt.

Other Tips to Support Digestion

Each of these 9 probiotic foods will help restore balance to your intestinal ecosystem, but they’re not the only way to support digestion. Prebiotics, or foods containing inulin, sustain your current gut bacteria by providing them the foods they need to thrive. Probiotic supplements like Floratrex™, my advanced formula with over 23 probiotic strains with prebiotics, are a great way to support your digestive system.

What probiotic foods do you eat? Share your tips and recipes with us!

References (5)
  1. Vaughn AR, Sivamani RK. Effects of Fermented Dairy Products on Skin: A Systematic Review. J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Jun 10.
  2. Carasi P, Racedo SM, Jacquot C, Romanin DE, Serradell MA, Urdaci MC. Impact of kefir derived Lactobacillus kefiri on the mucosal immune response and gut microbiota. J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:361604. doi: 10.1155/2015/361604.
  3. Cetojevic-Simin DD, Bogdanovic GM, Cvetkovic DD, Velicanski AS. Antiproliferative and antimicrobial activity of traditional Kombucha and Satureja montana L. Kombucha. J BUON. 2008 Jul-Sep;13(3):395-401.
  4. Szaefer H, Krajka-Kuniak V, Bartoszek A, Baer-Dubowska W. Modulation of carcinogen metabolizing cytochromes P450 in rat liver and kidney by cabbage and sauerkraut juices: comparison with the effects of indole-3-carbinol and phenethyl isothiocyanate. Phytother Res. 2012 Aug;26(8):1148-55. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3692.
  5. Park KY, Jeong JK, Lee YE, Daily JW 3rd. Health benefits of kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) as a probiotic food. J Med Food. 2014 Jan;17(1):6-20. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2013.3083.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • getitcorrect

    Natto is NOT mashed. Anybody that has actually eaten it would know that.

  • Anglian Streatham

    Unfortunately to find a real yogurt its almost impossible. Many companies create and produced just different milky products which are very far from the real yogurt and its benefits- some of these products could be even dangerous for the health.
    The real yogurt is a unique mixture of LIVE bacteria in a a very specific proportion and only that real yogurt can give all the legendary benefits of the yogurt. This unique formula makes the milk very digestive, as well. In the countries where that mix of bacteria occur naturally in the air /Only one place in the world – The Balkans- Europa / from thousand years people give yogurt to the babies as a first food or instead of the mothers milk, for example

  • David Sand

    >Tempeh… a great source of probiotic bacteria.

    Tempeh not eaten raw. So it can not be source of any bacteria.

  • DoubtingThomas
  • David Sand

    Oh, thank you very match for the link! It is very interesting. But i don’t think that it is the same: tempeh INFLUENCE on intestinal bacteria, but tempeh itself DON’T HAVE any bacteria: bacteria die during cooking heat treatment. So it is very interesting tempeh influence? What is the mechanism?

  • Katia

    Tempeh can indeed be eaten raw, as in salads.

  • Michael

    What food promotes a healthy microbiome, cleanses the liver and gut, is high in various nutrients, AND is a good source of protein? Why, beans, of course! I don’t remember all the science off the top of my head, but beans have the right kind of starch that promote good gut bacteria. Also, although insoluble fiber can be found in lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, only beans have lots of soluble fiber, which is essential for eliminating all that toxic bile from your system. Without soluble fiber, all that garbage and the bile it’s carried in will get to the end of the small intestine and circulate right back into your liver where even more waste is added on. So, to keep the liver from getting backed up with toxic bile and to prevent all that waste from passing through the colon many times over, eat your beans. It’s weird how all the anatomy and physiology is well-known, but no one seems to make the connection that we therefore regularly need soluble fiber in our diet for good gut (and who knows what else) health.

  • Michael

    Sorry, I warned against waste traveling through the colon–I meant through the small intestine. However, 5ish% still gets through the colon even without soluble fiber, so if it’s circulated through the liver many times, accumulating for so long before it eeks into the colon, it’s going to be pretty nasty and could be too toxic for the delicate colon to handle (resulting in colitis, for example).

Get to know Dr. Group

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

All testimonials and product reviews are authentic from actual customers. Documentation is available for legal inspection. Product reviews are within range of typicality.

Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your treating doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician. This Web site contains links to Web sites operated by other parties. Such links are provided for your convenience and reference only. We are not responsible for the content or products of any linked site or any link contained in a linked site. Global Healing Center does not adopt any medical claims which may have been made in 3rd party references. Where Global Healing Center has control over the posting or other communications of such claims to the public, Global Healing Center will make its best effort to remove such claims.

© Copyright 1998 - 2017 | All Rights Reserved www.globalhealingcenter.com

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy