The Benefits Of Eating Fermented Foods

Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha or probiotics... which are best for digestive health?

It's now widely known that good digestive health is linked to good mood, immunity, hormone balance, skin, energy and more. One of the most important ways to keep our digestive system healthy is by keeping the bacteria levels supported, and this is where fermented foods come in…
Eating fermented foods is a real trend at the moment and we are seeing them pop up in all kinds of weird and wonderful places. There is great research about how some of them can help encourage better bacterial balance in the body, and keep us healthy but it's important to make sure you're buying the right ones.

The best fermented foods

Here's our verdict on the best to try, how to eat them and the ones to leave out: 


A traditional condiment from Germany made by fermenting cabbage with salt. Sounds gross but has a delicious salty tang and tastes great added to salads. A brilliant addition to support the gut, but can be tricky with those with severe IBS due to the amount of fibre… go slow if you’re sensitive. Get the raw ones, as opposed to processed, sugary ones.


The Korean version of sauerkraut, super hot and spicy and full of goodness from ginger, chilli and herbs. Also extremely high in vitamin C.


A bit like yoghurt, but better. This fermented milk has tonnes of research behind it and is a great addition to smoothies, Birchers or just alongside a meal. Coconut water-based, kefir is great if you don’t want dairy. You can get this from most supermarkets, health food stores, eastern European supermarkets, or even make it yourself using cultures from Amazon. 


A fermented drink made with black tea and a scooby – nothing dog related, instead rather like a beehive of healthy, live bacteria. Not as much research on the health benefits behind kombucha as kefir, but a nice addition to the diet as it is especially rich in antioxidants as well as good bacteria. Watch out for sugary ones and instead go for those flavoured with ginger and spices. 

Probiotic Drinks

Supermarkets are awash with these, but they generally are sugar and sweetener laden. Better off with kefir or sauerkraut!


A type of fermented soybean from Japan, extremely rich in protein, vitamin K and iron. A good source of bacteria for digestive health, but there is no getting away from the fact that it is an acquired taste! 

Unpasteurised cheese

Postulated as one of the reasons why French, who eat A LOT of cheese, have low levels of heart disease despite eating high levels of saturated fats. Many kinds of cheese are pasteurised, but Roquefort is easy and widely available in most UK supermarkets. Try a match-boxed sized portion per day.

    Alice Mackintosh, Nutritional Therapist

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