Certain types of bacteria can help us digest food and may support a healthy immune system. But stressors, such as antibiotics and a diet high in processed foods, can reduce these beneficial microbes.
Fermented foods are a source of these bacteria. We don’t know yet to what extent they colonize our guts, but research suggests they may be helpful.
Some foods with live bacteria include yogurt, kefir, and certain types of sauerkraut and pickles. Other cultures eat a variety of fermented foods, such as:
Look for foods that are fermented, rather than pickled with vinegar or processed using high heat. Labels on dairy products should include live bacteria (such as Lactobacillus). Aim to regularly incorporate these foods into your diet.
To start, try this sesame miso cucumber salad. Or blend 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup kimchi for a dip that tastes like pimento cheese, as suggested by Cooking Light.
Moyer, Lindsay. The Lowdown on Fermented Foods. Nutrition Action, March 2017. Accessed August 2018.
Fermented Foods Can Add Depth to Your Diet. HMS Harvard Health Publishing, July 2018. Accessed August 2018.
Skara, T. et al. Fermented and Ripened Fish Products in the Northern European Countries. Journal of Ethnic Foods, 2015. 2(1): 18-24.
Pérez-Cataluña, A. et al. Diversity and Dynamics of Lactic Acid Bacteria in Atole Agrio, a Traditional Maize-based Fermented Beverage from South-Eastern Mexico, Analysed by High Throughput Sequencing and Culturing. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, 2018. 11(3): 385-399.