The number is remarkable: In an average lifetime, more than 132,000 pounds of food pass through the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract, along with an abundance of microorganisms that can negatively affect your gut health, according to an article in Gut, a journal of the British Society of Gastroenterology. Fortunately, research also shows that you can counter those harmful bacteria with the beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods, which aid digestion and immune function. Here are four fermented foods you should be eating more to enhance gut health.
A fermented milk drink—it tastes a bit like drinkable yogurt—kefir is full of protein, calcium and probiotics. Because it’s fermented, most people who are lactose-intolerant can drink kefir.
Lifeway Strawberry Lowfat Organic Kefir: This USDA Organic kefir contains 12 probiotic cultures, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, which helps you absorb nutrients, and Bifidobacterium longum, which breaks down carbohydrates and neutralizes toxins.
Most yogurt brands in the U.S. contain probiotics. Those labeled with a Live & Active Culture (LAC) seal contain at least 100 million probiotic cultures per gram (about 17 billion cultures in a 6-ounce cup) at manufacturing time.
Chobani A Hint of Gili Cherry: Protein-rich Greek yogurt, blended with a bit of sugar and natural fruits and flavors. Contains live and active cultures and three probiotics, including L. acidophilus.
Made from naturally fermented soybeans, tempeh has a slightly nutty flavor and is a good source of probiotics, as well as protein and essential amino acids. A 2013 study found that soy tempeh stimulates growth of Bifidobacterium, a probiotic strain that produces lactic acid, which in turn enhances cells that naturally protect the intestinal-wall lining.
Lightlife Three Grain Organic Tempeh: Made with a blend of brown rice, barley and millet, plus probiotic-laden cultured soybeans. This USDA Organic meat substitute is great baked, steamed or in stir-fries.
Kombucha is a tangy, effervescent tea made from a SCOBY (bacteria and yeast), sugar, tea and water, and often flavored with herbs or fruit. Along with B vitamins and natural acids, kombucha contains numerous strains of probiotics, such as Acetobacter, which produces acids to aid digestion, and Lactobacillus, which produces lactic acid. Because ingredients vary, not all kombucha will contain the same strains.
Simple Truth Organic Blueberry Grape Kombucha: Fermented over four months per batch, this blend may remind you of drinking a healthy grape soda. One billion CFUs of probiotics are added to each USDA Organic bottle.
More Fermented Foods
- Miso. Try our recipe for Garlic Miso Slaw.
- Kimchi. Try our recipe for Beef Tacos with Kimchi Salsa.
- Sauerkraut. Try our recipe for Basic Sauerkraut.