How to Use Fermented Foods to Keep Your Microbiome Healthy

Why is the microbiome important?

Your microbiome kicks into gear at birth and changes steadily thereafter. Your first microbial assistants were some Lactobacillus bacteria that you got on your way through your mother’s vagina and from her breast milk – and it was exactly the kind of bacteria you needed to digest her milk. By the time you become an adult, your microbiome will contain about 100 trillion bacterial cells from about 1000 different species.

As we age, the health and diversity of your microbiome diminishes. It has been affected by everything around you and everything you ingest – and it evolves in response to your choices over the course of your life. You can help maintain a healthy microbiome by eating a diverse and nutritious diet as you age that includes plenty of fiber. Healthy microbes lead to a healthy body.

To give your microbiome the support it needs, you should take a daily probiotic, eat probiotics (more on that below), avoid excessive use of antibiotics, limit processed foods, and manage your stress. There is a direct line of communication between your brain and your gut and the information shared isn’t limited to what you eat. It also includes emotional reactions, which means that fear and anxiety can originate in the gut and travel to the brain.

An International Buffet of Probiotics

For millennia, cultures around the world have been pickling and fermenting foods to make delicious treats that help with digestion. No knew what the microbiome was a thousand years ago, but today we know that eating fermented foods is one of the best (and tastiest) ways to support your microbiome. Here are a few options to consider:

SAUERKRAUT: German, Austrian, and other eastern European cultures have long been fermenting cabbage to create this delicious dish, which is excellent in sandwiches and salads, or paired with almost anything you can imagine.

Try our Sauerkraut recipe and Rainbow Collard Wrap here, or try a non-cabbage recipe: Beet Sauerkraut  from Country Living,  Turmeric Sauerkraut from Feasting At Home.

KIMCHI Koreans ferment cabbage, carrot, and daikon with salt and peppers in a clay pot underground to make this spicy condiment.

Try our Ultimate Kimchi recipe, which you can make easily in your kitchen. This Quick Kimchi Salad is a favorite.

YOGURT: Greek, Russian, Polish, and many Middle Eastern cultures have been fermenting animal milk – from cows, goats, or sheep – for thousands of years. Today, of course, you can find nondairy versions too, like coconut milk, soy milk, and rice milk yogurts, which are treated with Lactobacillus and other bacteria to make a thick, delicious, and protein-rich food.

Try: Vanilla Cashew Yogurt

KOMBUCHA: Russian, Chinese, and Japanese cultures have different versions of this effervescent fermented tea that’s become popular in the United States in recent years.

KEFIR: Russians love this this, sour beverage that’s made from cow, goat, or sheep’s milk treated with bacterial grains.

For a fun twist, try these Berry Kefir Popsicles or make your own Coconut Water Kefir.

Do you have a favorite recipe using fermented foods? Share with us in the comments below or tag us on Instagram @TheBodyBook #bodybookdishes. You can learn more about your microbiome in The Body Book and The Longevity Book

Related Reads: 6 Ingredients for Naturally Flawless Skin and Longevity, 10 Foods Nutritionist McKel Hill Keeps in Her Fridge, Fermentation 101, and How Blogger Pure Ella Cut Out Sugar For Good and You Can Too