Fermented Foods and the Gut Microbiome

by in Gut Health 24 February 2021

Gut health plays a key part in our focus in what we do and the products we bring to the market.  With that idea, there is also a sense of comradery knowing that fermented foods have been a long-established part of culinary traditions around the world. Almost every culture has some sort of fermented foods that make up their daily tradition. In cultures where there is a heavy meat diet, fermented foods play an important role in helping us to digest the proteins found in meat products. It is no coincidence that in cultures like Poland, Germany, Korea, where meat makes up a substantial part of the diet, you see food staples such as sauerkraut, pickles and kimchi accompanying their traditional dishes.

Prior to the 20th century, fermentation was never really studied as a topic. It was just done and incorporated into the recipes that were handed down to us from our grandparents. However, there has currently been a big resurgence of interest in the study of the connection between fermented foods and the bacteria that inhabit our gut. Today, we know that a healthy gut plays an important role in the maintenance of health.

It is only in the last past decade researchers have made a staggering discovery that inside our digestive system we have about 100 trillion bacteria. These microorganisms thrive inside our gut microbiome, which is a collection of bacterial species that reside in our large intestine.  It is here in the microbiome that our immune system is regulated, along with our moods and behaviours. Simply put, our mental and physical well being can be traced back to the health of our gut.

Studies have linked the quality of our gut health to obesity and how we store fat, as well as autoimmune disease, allergies, and different types of inflammation. Each person has a microbiome that is as unique as a fingerprint, and this uniqueness determines our predisposition to different diseases that we will face in our lifetime. However, research has also shown that aspects of the modern Western lifestyle have reduced our microbial diversity in the gut. Our Western diets have recently leaned towards more processed, refined, sugar-rich, and fiber-poor foods.  The ironic reality is that it is in our economically rich processed Western diets where we find the most impoverished microbiomes. In these impoverished microbiomes, we then find more likely instances of toxins that cause inflammation and are associated with a host of various illnesses.

Today we can find a myriad of diets and nutritional suggestions, and whichever diet you follow, make sure your diet:

  • nourishes your gut microbiome with fiber-rich complex carbohydrates
  • includes fermented foods such a pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, and tempeh
  • encourages a reduced sugar intake


  1. Inclusion of Fermented Foods in Food Guides around the World. (2015, January 1). PubMed Central (PMC).

  • Mayer, E. (2018). The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health (Reprint ed.). Harper Wave.

  • Sonnenburg, J., Sonnenburg, E., & M.D., W. A. (2016). The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health (Illustrated ed.). Penguin Books.

  • Spector, T. (2016). The Diet Myth: Why the Secret to Health and Weight Loss is Already in Your Gut (1st ed.). Abrams Press.

  • Tamang, J. P. (2020, January 1). Fermented foods in a global age: East meets West. Wiley Online Library.

Additional Reading:

  1. Kolata, G. (2012, June 13). Human Microbiome Project Explores Our 100 Trillion Good Bacteria. The New York Times.
  2. Pollan, M. (2013, May 15). Say Hello to the 100 Trillion Bacteria That Make Up Your Microbiome. The New York Times.

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