Fermented foods seem to have become quite popular in recent months. Whether you’ve heard about the benefits of drinking vinegars or are simply wondering why yogurt is such a hot option for breakfast, you most likely want to know what all the fuss is about. People are clamoring for fermented products lately because these foods and drinks are excellent sources of probiotics.
For those a bit shaky on what probiotics are exactly, it is best to think of them as good bacteria for your gut (1). While you might associate bacteria with germs and other sickness-causing agents, the truth is there are many bacterias your body requires for healthy functions. Probiotics help to encourage digestion by affecting the nerves that control the various muscle movements in the stomach and intestines, keeping a person regular and comfortable (2).
If you feel like you’re ready to explore these options for yourself, you will be happy to learn there are several simple ways to get started. Take a look at these tips on how to work fermented foods into your diet and see which tactics work for your lifestyle.
Do you like yogurt? If you do, then you’re already on your path to including more fermented products in your diet. The cultures found in dairy products like kefir and yogurt can provide your body with the right daily dose of probiotics to encourage a happy gut. Start your morning right by grabbing a bowl of yogurt and topping it with your favorite crunchy granola and fresh fruit slices. You might even enjoy the experience so much that you forget you’re treating your body to a healthy meal.
While dairy cultures are excellent fermented products to include in your daily meals, there are a number of people who cannot eat dairy. For those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, there are other avenues to explore. Coconut yogurt cultures can offer all the digestive power offered by dairy without the discomfort or bloating.
Yogurt is the centerpiece ingredient for fermented breakfast options, but there are less obvious ways to include probiotics in your meals. Plenty of people enjoy eating quick meals like sandwiches and salads for lunch. For those who want to work more probiotics into lunchtime, consider adding fermented pickles to the mix.
By themselves, pickles do not offer a ton of nutritional value. Though tasty, these briny cucumbers are more for flavor and crunch than anything else. Still, eating a pickle on or with your lunch has been reported to increase the good bacteria in your gut and promote easy digestion (3). While pickles might be an acquired taste, the simple health benefits can make them a lot more palatable.
Speaking of acquired tastes, sauerkraut is another great option when it comes to eating more fermented foods. Since it is made from cabbage, sauerkraut contains a ton of fiber. This by itself is enough to encourage a healthier digestive system (4). Due to the fermented nature of sauerkraut, it also enhances the digestive experience by introducing healthy probiotics into the mix.
It is also important to note that introducing too much sauerkraut to your system at once can have a negative impact on the way your stomach feels. You don’t want your stomach to turn from the experience, so it is best to use sauerkraut sparingly at first. Increase how much of it you use with time and you’re likely to feel the benefits in your stomach in no time at all.
Switch to Sourdough
Finally, you can do wonders for your diet by switching what kind of bread you eat at home. Unlike other options found at your local grocery store, sourdough bread packs a ton of digestive benefits into one loaf. This type of bread is made with only water, salt and flour, with the rest of the process being more about fermentation than anything else. While sourdough has long been considered a great option for people having trouble achieving glucose homeostasis (5), there are many who are now seeing the digestive benefits.
The longer the dough has been fermenting, the better it will be for your gut. Instead of opting for whole wheat or white, see how using long-fermented sourdough can transform your meals.
Get creative with the way you infuse fermented foods into your day. While you might not want to eat a sauerkraut and pickle sandwich on sourdough with a side of yogurt, you can easily find more practical ways to ingest these helpful sources of probiotics.