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What Are Fermented Foods and Why Are They So Good For the Gut?

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Pickled vegetables, kombucha, and other fermented foods are having a star moment in grocery stores, and it’s not just because customers are craving funky flavors; it’s because of the potential some fermented foods may offer.

What Are Fermented Foods?

Fermented foods, such as sourdough bread, cottage cheese, and kefir, are a result of fermentation, “the process of converting carbohydrates and sugars to alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms, usually yeasts or bacteria,” says Catherine Brennan, RD.

According to Brennan, even though fermentation traditionally has been used as a method of food preservation and preparation, there are also a number of health benefits associated with fermented foods.

How Fermented Foods Are Connected to a Healthy Gut

One of the main health benefits of fermented foods is that they are a source of probiotics, which are live microorganisms that function like good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics help the gut by repopulating beneficial bacteria, and promoting a supportive environment for digestive health.

“Good gut health is priceless,” says Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD. “When your gut is healthy, digestion goes so much more smoothly, your body absorbs nutrients much better, and it could even help in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.”

Prebiotics and a Healthy Gut

Incorporating prebiotics into your diet is another way to increase good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics are carbohydrates that ferment in the gut and act as food for probiotics, helping good bacteria flourish.

Prebiotic-rich foods include asparagus and yams, but if you’re looking for a quick and simple way to eat more prebiotics, consider trying Benefiber. Benefiber is a plant-based prebiotic fiber that’s clear, taste-free, and easy to add to your favorite foods and drinks. 1

1Use as label directed. Not recommended for carbonated beverages.