If you’ve snacked on some sauerkraut or a small container of yogurt, then washed it down with your favorite kombucha tea lately, there’s a good chance that you’ve probably enjoyed a tasty snack of naturally fermented foods made without artificial preservatives.

Fermented foods are different from others in that they can be loaded with strains of beneficial bacteria that help you fortify the healthy balance of bugs in your gut, but not all of them.

For example, the average jar of pickles you see at the grocery store is made with vinegar, not the natural fermentation process (meaning no bacteria). In other words, it’s up to you to read labels to ensure you know what you’re getting! (For example, the filtration processes used to make wines and beers and the heat used to bake sourdough breads eliminate any living bacteria.)

How fermentation happens

The fermentation process is one in which carbohydrates are converted to alcohol or organic acids with the help of yeast or bacteria. Those acids or alcohol work as natural preservatives that give fermented foods, not only their distinct taste, but super-charge the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Although fermentation may be a fairly new idea for many of you, archeological discoveries have found evidence of drinks, beers, and wines dating back at least 10,000 years.

However, the process got a jump-start in the mid 19th century when European scientists Louis Pasteur and Eduard Buchner found critical connections that linked fermentation with yeast and sugar.

The extra benefits

Fortunately, the benefits of fermented foods don’t stop with how they naturally balance the bacteria in your gut. Here’s more health challenges that may be eased by consuming fermented foods regularly, based on medical research:

  • Boosting your immune health,
  • Lessening soreness after acute resistance training.
  • Lowering your risks of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • Helping you lose weight.
  • Improving your mood.

Although many people enjoy preparing their own fermented foods from scratch, experts agree that smart shopping is the best way to go, especially if you’re just getting started. Slow and gradual is the safe way to add fermented foods to your diet to avoid an upset stomach due to the increase of bacteria in your gut.

Love and chi,

Paul (and Penny)

P.S. Want to jump aboard the fermented foods bandwagon? Check out Paleovalley’s naturally fermented and pasture-raised Chicken Sticks and save 15 percent on your purchase at this special link.



verywell health



Harvard Health Publishing