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The 7 best fermented foods for gut health

In general, the more fermented foods you can eat, the better.


February 27, 2024

One key health message often slips under the radar: taking care of your gut — and the trillions of microorganisms living within it — is essential to our well-being. Signs of an unbalanced gut environment include bloating, constipation, acid reflux, skin issues and poor mental health. This is where health (and disease) start, so it’s wise to pay attention to it – and eat according to its needs.

How fermented food can help your gut

Yes, probiotics can be beneficial, but incorporating plenty of fermented foods (teeming with microorganisms) into your diet has been scientifically proven to promote gut microbial diversity, reduce inflammation, and improve immune system function (resulting in a reduced likelihood of developing various diseases).

A 2021 study conducted by Stanford School of Medicine researchers found that a 10-week diet including certain fermented foods — more on that later — can “reshape the microbiota in a cohort of healthy adults,” according to Justin Sonnenburg, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the university.

Research suggests that the more fermented foods we eat, the better, but consuming six servings each day (as done by those who participated in the study) has been scientifically proven to have these health benefits.


The best fermented food to eat

“If your gut is really out of balance, start slowly,” advises Rhian Stephenson, nutritionist and founder of Artah. “Add a few tablespoons of wild fermented foods a few times a week and gradually increase your intake.” She recommends avoiding any fermented foods that have added sugar, coloring or lots of vinegar.

Greek yogurt

If you haven’t (knowingly) tried any fermented foods, then Greek yogurt – or indeed any “living” yogurt – can be a good starting point, as well as an excellent source of protein. Yogurt is made by adding bacteria to milk and letting it ferment, and depending on the type you get, it comes in different levels of thickness. Avoid yogurts with flavors or added sugar, look for “live and active cultures” on the label, and for the best benefits make sure it’s unpasteurized.


Unlike yogurt, kefir is made by adding kefir grains to milk and letting them ferment. It can be packed with natural berries and fiber, so it’s an easy way to improve your gut function day by day. Plus, you can make it yourself (and add different fruits) if you want.


Made from fermented shredded cabbage, sauerkraut has long been popular in the German and Central European diets — and with good reason. A simple and tasty addition to any meal, it’s also packed with fiber and antioxidants.


Yes, you can drink your ferments too. Kombucha is a great – and delicious – way to increase your microbial diversity, and it’s also packed with antioxidants. Studies show that consuming kombucha consumption positively impacts inflammation, liver detoxification and intestinal dysbiosis, and it’s also tasty. Be sure to opt for raw, unpasteurized, and unfiltered kombucha — I’m a fan of Momo.


Originating from Korea, kimchi is another delicious fermented food made from cabbage, radishes and/or other vegetables. Studies show that it is beneficial for various health aspects, including reduced BMI, healthy blood pressure and alleviating irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.


Add miso soup to your diet – not only is it delicious, but it’s also packed with health benefits. Made with fermented soybeans, salt and a mushroom that contains a probiotic (called A. oryzae) said to reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases. Not a soup fan? You can also use it as a paste or mix it into dressings for your dishes.


Rich in a variety of nutrients, tempeh – made from fermented soybeans – is a favorite among vegetarians. Besides being a good source of protein and vitamin B12, it has a low glycemic load, making it excellent for those looking to manage blood sugar levels.


Originally published by vogue.com