You don’t wage the battle of the bulge only at the dinner table, but you fight it inside your gut, also. You can blame much of your excess weight on consuming processed junk food, overuse of antibiotics, and a lack of eating nutritious food. If you are not eating enough foods rich in probiotics, the harmful bacteria in your gut has the upper hand.

Fermented foods, also called zymurgical foods, are a valuable source of these essential nutrients. When you don’t have enough beneficial flora in your gut, the results are systemic inflammation that can cause weight gain. You need probiotics to support a healthy immune system, efficient metabolism, and brainpower.

No wonder health experts tout reports that demonstrate the positive effects of consuming probiotic foods and healthy gut flora. Some of your favorite fermented foods supply many of these beneficial microbes. Here’s the scoop about probiotics and why you should enjoy more of them.

When you consume deliciously fermented foods or take dietary supplements, you supply your digestive system with countless live bacterial cultures. Although scientists haven’t proven how these microscopic floras benefit our bodies, research shows positive correlations. Another challenge for researchers is the difficulty probiotics have surviving in harsh stomach acids.

Although many zymurgical foods host a plethora of healthy probiotics, not all of them do. The reason is that the chemical process of fermentation has many different variables. With the correct components and variables, the fermentation will produce probiotic-laden foods.

It’s worth noting that not all zymurgical foods have probiotics. For thousands of years, global cultures have produced ale, wine, and beer with the fermentation process. However, while decreasing any bacterial contamination during the processing of these beverages, the probiotics diminish.

Can Probiotics Benefit Your Gut Health?

Science recently discovered that the Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus was correct when he said we are what we eat. Did you know that your physical and mental health depends on a balanced and healthy gut? It’s a flourishing biome that can also affect your weight issues.

• Balancing Gut Flora

Nutritional experts have conducted numerous studies that suggest that replacing sugary processed foods with healthy probiotic foods can help maintain a proper balance of gut flora. Studies show that fermented foods may help alleviate the symptoms if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or irritable bowel disease (IBD). Research also shows promising results for probiotics minimizing anxiety, seasonal allergies, and pediatric eczema.

• Regulating Your Weight

Are you on a weight loss and fitness regimen? Did you know that studies show that consuming probiotic-rich zymurgical food may help regulate your weight? Experts suggest that these ten probiotic foods may help balance your gut flora by making your digestive system more probiotic-friendly.

10 Probiotic Fermented Foods for Gut Health

1. Yogurt

This classic zymurgical food has enjoyed another renaissance thanks to probiotic research. You’ll find its many benefits promoted on almost all media sources.

If you want an extra kick of protein, try the Greek-style yogurt.

As a dairy product, yogurt is a significant source of calcium and Vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth. Avoid trendy yogurts that are blended with sugary and fattening additives.

2. Kimchi

If you are a fan of zesty pickled veggies, then kimchi is a tasty probiotic option. It is a staple of many Asian cuisines, especially in Korea. While some recipes vary, kimchi comes from a traditional fermented blend of radishes, cabbage, green onions, and a spicy sauce made with powdered kelp or shrimp.

Eating a portion of kimchi can be a healthy part of your diet and may help you lose weight. Lactobacillus Brevis, the primary probiotic culture in kimchi, has shown potential in studies on fat reduction. Don’t overdo it because kimchi, like most pickled veggies, can pack extra sodium.

3. Sauerkraut

While pickled cabbage is part of many global cuisines, German and Austrian immigrants made it famous in America. Like kimchi, it is Lacto-fermented with Lactobacillus as its leading probiotic. Sauerkraut provides even more gut-healthy probiotics than yogurt if it’s not pasteurized.

The heat from pasteurization kills harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. However, it also destroys the beneficial probiotics in the process. For the full benefits of this delightfully sour food, purchase unpasteurized brands, or make it yourself.

4. Pickled Cucumbers

Where would our sandwiches and salads be without this beloved condiment? Take a step back over four thousand years ago, and you’d find people from Ancient Mesopotamia storing fresh cucumbers in brine to preserve them. Over the millennia, these tangy cucumbers’ popularity has spread over the world.

Pickled cucumbers, usually called pickles, can be a treasure trove of gut-healthy probiotics. However, not all pickles are created equally. Most store-bought pickles are brined in a vinegar solution and aren’t genuinely fermented. They are also pasteurized to make them shelf-stable, and probiotics aren’t present.

Do you want a crunchy pickle that will provide some health benefits? Purchase ones that are Lacto-fermented and are found in the store’s refrigerated section. If you have a bumper crop of cucumbers, consider making your own probiotic pickles with a starter, salt, and water.

5. Natto

Some probiotic foods can promote good bone and cardiovascular health. For example, consider natto, which is a zymurgical soybean staple in Japan. It has amazing probiotic content, plus it’s a significant source of Vitamin K2. Since natto’s probiotic strength can minimize inflammation, it can help combat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and skin conditions.

6. Tempeh

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you are familiar with this zymurgical soy product often used as a meat substitute. Like its Asian-inspired cousin tofu, tempeh has a meaty bite, and its neutral flavor allows for creative seasonings. Tempeh uses a strain of yeast for its fermentation process, so it’s a delicious probiotic source.

Tempeh is ideal for balancing your good gut flora. Also, tempeh provides nutrients like calcium and protein.

gut bacteria
Take time to learn the link between waist size and gut bacteria.

7. Pickled Green Olives

Many classic cocktails wouldn’t look right without their iconic pick of green olives, especially martinis. These verdant beauties get their distinctive taste by using their own lactic acid bacteria in the fermentation process. Scientists have studied probiotics present in pickled green olives and have discovered potential health benefits.

Some of these microflorae may help you lose weight or help relieve painful symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. These potential benefits are only present in olives that have been preserved in brine and not with lye. Read the labels before you buy them.

8. Beet Kvass

If you are a Russophile, you probably recognize kvass as an iconic Russian beverage. It derives from stale rye bread and uses yeast for the fermentation process. Classic kvass is slightly alcoholic, bubbly, and has a warm earthy flavor.

However, beets and whey are the Lacto-fermentation components for beet kvass. As these hardy root veggies ferment, they develop into a lovely deep red beverage rich in fiber and potassium. The process of fermentation increases the beet’s health benefits for your digestive system.

9. Kefir

If you love yogurt or are a smoothie enthusiast, this ancient beverage will be right on your list of probiotic foods. Balkans developed it centuries ago and eventually, it spread throughout Eastern Europe and Russia. Its fermentation power comes from kefir grains, a symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria like the SCOBY used to ferment kombucha.

They add the kefir grains to either cow, goat, or sheep milk and allow it to lacto-ferment at room temperature. The result is a smooth, creamy beverage with a slight tang like yogurt. Kefir has many benefits for your digestive tract and gut flora. So if you are lactose-intolerant, here’s some good news.

The fermentation process of kefir breaks down most of the milk’s lactic acid, which may make it easier for you to drink. It’s tasty and worth a try.

10. Kombucha

Although this probiotic drink has a venerable history from China that spans for centuries, it wasn’t noticed in America until the last two decades of the 20th century. Kombucha became popular because of its potential for boosting the immune system and balancing gut microbes.

Now, kombucha has become a star in the making of the probiotic health and fitness world. It’s produced by fermenting green or black tea with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and sugar. Kombucha is slightly bubbly with a negligible level of alcohol.

When you purchase kombucha from the store, choose the unpasteurized, low-sugar variety found in the refrigerated section. You can also purchase a SCOBY in specialty stores or online and make it at home for a fraction of the store price.

Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Probiotic Food

While early humans may have discovered fermentation to preserve food, they never realized its health potential. More research is ongoing to discover more healthy gut and other benefits from consuming probiotics. For more information, talk to your primary healthcare provider or a registered dietician about how you can incorporate fermented foods into your diet.