5 fermented foods you need to include in your diet
Gut friendly foods are everywhere at the moment, and for good reason. A healthy gut benefits our entire body—from boosting our immune system to increasing our brain function, to helping super-charge our metabolism and helping us attain good oral health. Yup, it does the lot—a healthy gut can even help reduce your risk of getting diabetes. We chatted to dietitian and nutritionist Rebecca Gawthorne of Nourish Naturally, who gave us the inside scoop on the fermented foods we can use to help get our gut on track.
Fermentation is a process that involves the breakdown of sugars by bacteria and yeast. “When a food is fermented, it is exposed to bacteria that break down sugars naturally present in the food to produce lactic acid. By ingesting these good bacteria, you create a more acidic environment in your stomach. This helps digestion and the production of more enzymes in your gut,” says Rebecca, “so, when you eat fermented foods, it boosts the beneficial bacteria (aka probiotics) in your gut which is important for healthy digestion and good gut health.”
Fit foodies Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw are also fans of ye old fermented foods and have put together a list of their fave gut loving ferments for us—and Rebecca gives them the seal of approval.
Kefir is a fermented dairy product which comes in the form of a yoghurt drink. “Kefir is a probiotic powerhouse,” confirms Rebecca, “it can help populate your gut with beneficial bacteria and restrict the growth of bad bacteria.” Plus, “it tastes delicious on its own and I love adding it to my smoothies,” says Laura.
Sauerkraut is fermented shredded cabbage—sounds gross, but we promise it’s super yum. “Cabbage is naturally good for digestion due to its fibre content, however, when it’s fermented, it contains the beneficial probiotics which help your gut absorb the nutrients in the cabbage more easily,” says Rebecca. “I love it served as a side dish with my breakfast. It tastes delish with eggs, salmon and avo,” adds Steph.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ve probably heard about this magical gut healthy drink. Kombucha is made from fermenting a colony of bacteria called the ‘scoby’ and is full of good bacteria to aid our gut health and digestion.
Kimchi is another type of fermented vegetable full of living enzymes for a healthy gut—fondly known as the Korean sister of sauerkraut and often made with radishes to pack a little more of a spicy punch. It’s packed with good bacteria—and “studies have found that it boosts probiotic levels and aids your digestion,” confirms Rebecca. Laura tells us “it’s one of my favourite ways to add flavour to my salads.”
A few squares after dinner aren’t just for keeping us sane, but are also good for our gut. “In moderation, of course,” says Steph. Rebecca keeps us honest and tell us that “the bacteria in your gut can ferment the sugar in the cocoa in chocolate, which may increase gut flora and help with healthy gut function like reducing bloating—it should however be noted that everyone’s gut varies, so everyone will benefit differently!”
Want to get your hands on some fermented foods? Laura and Steph are both so passionate about gut health that they’ve recently launched their own range of fermented products including kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha which can be found exclusively in Coles. Pop it on your shopping list, now!