Fermented Foods: Include These Foods For Gut Health And Other Benefits

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Fermented Foods: Include These Foods For Gut Health And Other Benefits

Fermentation is a process to preserve food and beverages wherein microorganisms convert carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids.

Fermented foods: Include these foods for gut health and other benefits

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Fermentation is an age-old process used to preserve food and beverages that predates the invention of refrigeration. It involves the conversion of organic compounds such as sugars and starch by microorganisms like bacteria, yeast, or fungi. This transformation results in the production of alcohol or acids, which act as natural preservatives and enhance the flavour and texture of fermented foods. As a result, fermented foods have a distinctively robust, salty, and slightly sour taste.

There are two primary methods of fermentation. The first is spontaneous fermentation, where the microorganisms naturally present in the food or environment initiate the fermentation process. Examples of spontaneous fermentation include the production of kimchi or sauerkraut. The second method involves the use of a "starter culture," which is added to initiate fermentation. This approach is employed in the production of kefir or natto.

Fermented foods to eat for gut health and other benefits


Sauerkraut offers benefits beyond being a simple hot dog topping. Created from cabbage and salt, this fermented dish provides a generous supply of probiotics and fibre. Sauerkraut's microbial community undergoes rapid growth during fermentation and remains stable when packaged for commercial distribution.


Kimchi, a fiery Korean condiment crafted from fermented cabbage and assorted vegetables, is known for its potential anti-cancer properties and various health advantages. Kimchi offers a multitude of health benefits, such as shielding against cancer, hypertension, asthma, and inflammation.


Kefir, a fermented milk beverage resembling drinkable yoghurt, is abundant in calcium and probiotics. Kefir could potentially offer benefits for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, immunity, and neurological disorders.

Similar to yoghurt, the probiotics present in kefir aid in the digestion of lactose, making it potentially more digestible for individuals with lactose intolerance.


Kombucha, a fermented tea, offers a tangy and effervescent experience while providing beneficial yeast and bacteria. This invigorating beverage is often infused with herbs or fruit flavours. It can be conveniently found in natural foods stores, farmers' markets, and regular grocery stores. 


Miso, a fermented paste created from barley, rice, or soybeans, imparts a delightful umami essence to various dishes. Its robust flavour means that a small amount can have a significant impact. In addition to being packed with beneficial bacteria, miso is a notable source of protein, isoflavones, minerals, and fibre. While miso is commonly used in soups, it can also elevate the taste and gut health benefits of salad dressings and marinades, making them even more delectable.


Tempeh is derived from soybeans that undergo natural fermentation. While it shares similarities with tofu as a plant-based protein source from soy, tempeh sets itself apart by undergoing fermentation. This process imparts a firmer texture and a slightly nuttier flavour to the final product. Notably, tempeh is considered a complete source of vegetarian protein since it contains all the essential amino acids required by the body.


Yogurt is produced through the fermentation of milk. Yogurt contains probiotics that aid in the digestion of lactose, the sugar found in milk, which means that people with lactose intolerance may still be able to enjoy yoghurt. 

Advantages of fermented foods

Rich in beneficial bacteria

Fermented foods are a valuable source of beneficial bacteria that can potentially have a probiotic effect.

These bacteria help restore the natural balance of gut bacteria, promoting digestive health and alleviating digestive issues. However, the amount of probiotics present can vary, and the effectiveness of the beneficial bacteria reaching the gut depends on several factors, including the specific food being consumed. Fermented foods that provide prebiotic fibres tend to be the most beneficial in this regard

Improved digestion

Fermentation facilitates the breakdown of natural sugars and starches by bacteria, making fermented foods easier for our bodies to digest. For instance, lactose in milk is broken down into simpler sugars like glucose and galactose during fermentation. As a result, individuals with lactose intolerance may find fermented products such as yoghurt, kefir, and cheese more tolerable.

Improves nutrient availability 

The process of fermenting certain foods offers a means to enhance their nutritional value. Through fermentation, we can increase the availability of vitamins and minerals, making them more accessible for absorption by our bodies. Some natural compounds, such as phytic acid found in legumes like soybeans, can hinder the absorption of nutrients like iron and zinc. However, fermentation eliminates these "anti-nutrients," thereby making the nutritional content of the food more easily absorbable. 

Enhance mood and behaviour

Our knowledge of the gut's impact on our mood and behaviour is rapidly advancing, and it seems that fermented foods might have a significant role to play. Specific strains of probiotic bacteria, such as Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum, commonly found in fermented foods, have the potential to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Additionally, another strain called Lactobacillus casei Shirota could potentially influence cortisol production and mitigate physical manifestations of stress.

Cardiovascular well-being

Incorporating fermented foods into a healthy and balanced diet appears to be linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. This association may stem from slight reductions in blood pressure and improvements in cholesterol levels.


Fermentation, an age-old method of food preservation, involves the bacterial and yeast-driven breakdown of carbohydrates such as starch and sugar. There is a wide array of popular fermented foods, including kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kombucha, and yoghurt. Incorporating these foods into your diet can potentially lower the risk of heart disease, improve digestion, boost immunity, and assist with weight loss.

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