Fermented foods are a hot topic these day! Kefir, live yoghurt, sourdough, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso… you’ve probably heard them all mentioned.
But do they really live up to the hype, or are they just the latest nutrition fad? And, most importantly, should you consider making them part of your daily diet?
Let’s look at the facts:
How do fermented foods improve gut health?
The microbes and nutrients in fermented foods feed and influence gut bacteria which then create metabolites (products of bacterial activity) that are hugely beneficial for your body, because they:1https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/14/7/1527/htm
- Increase microbial diversity: The diversity of bacteria gives resilience and strength to the overall ecosystem – the more different types of bacteria there are, the better! 2https://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/fermented-foods-show-potential-in-increasing-gut-microbial-diversity-and-modulating-immune-responses/?search=fermented
2. Reduce inflammation: Commensal bacteria (which are essential neutral bacteria that neither benefit nor provoke harm) produce substances like butyrate, which has a potent anti-inflammatory effect within the gut and around the body. 3https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(21)00754-6
3. Reduce gut ‘dysbiosis’: Dysbiosis (an imbalance” in the gut microbial community that is associated with disease) happens when there are disturbances to the ecosystem, for example, low levels of beneficial bacteria, reduced diversity, and/or the presence of harmful bacteria. 4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7330458/
And how does this benefit your overall health?
Lowers blood pressure and supports cardiovascular health. 5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723656/
Improves cholesterol levels.
Supports immune health. 6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723656/
What about wine and chocolate – aren’t they fermented?
Yes! Wine and dark chocolate are also fermented products but before you get too excited – the fermentation of these foods unfortunately doesn’t produce live cultures.8https://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/4-basics-facts-about-fermented-foods/?search=fermented However the polyphenols in wine and chocolate are still amazing for gut health, as they help to boost levels of commensal bacteria 9https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723656/
And what about the histamine content?
Some of the probiotics in fermented foods, like kefir, produce histamine. But research shows that histamine produced by gut bacteria actually regulates the immune system and has an anti-inflammatory effect.
As always, start slowly when adding new foods to your diet and monitor any reactions. You may need to cut back to a dose that suits you.
So, has this convinced you to try fermented foods?
Hopefully, yes! There are so many reasons to include them as part of your daily diet, and they taste delicious. Fermented foods might even be included in nutritional recommendations in the future, which is great news for everyone’s gut health.10https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25580813/
If you’d like to try adding some fermented foods to your diet here are a few recipes to get you started:
Super-speedy miso and tempeh stir-fry and Coconut Mango Kefir Smoothie as well as other prebiotic-rich recipes to help feed the good bacteria – Prebiotic Baked Oats, Chocolate and Orange Prebiotic Energy Balls and Creamy Prebiotic Soup. Enjoy! 🙂
Contact one of our Nutritional Therapists via live chat, weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm, for bespoke advice on gut wellness.