Fermented & Cultured Foods 101


(Kvass Soup, Kefir, Pickles)

Fermented and cultured foods have long been touted for their health benefits, but do you know why? A staple in many cultures, fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and kombucha, and cultured foods like kefir, Greek yogurt and buttermilk promote the proliferation of good bacteria in our gut, which aid in digestion and boost our immune system. Having a healthy gut filled with good bacteria, known as probiotics, can help us reduce gas and bloating after meals and even shed a few pounds!

Fruits, vegetables and fiber from whole foods can help promote the growth of strong, healthy bacteria, but, unfortunately, many things in our environment wreak havoc on a healthy gut.

Good Bacteria, Don’t Go! 

Step 1: Don’t eat processed foods. Many ingredients in processed foods are foreign to our digestive tract and we are not equipped with the right enzymes to break them down. Unhealthy bacteria feed on these foreign ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, which cause them to proliferate and potentially outnumber the healthy bacteria. An uncomfortable side effect of this process is gas, which makes us feel bloated. Cutting down or avoiding processed foods, as well as adding cultured and fermented foods, can help the good bacteria flourish.

Step 2: Check your antibiotic use. Along with wiping out the bacteria that makes us sick, antibiotics clear the healthy lining of good bacteria in our gut. If you are prescribed antibiotics for longer than three days, you may consider taking a probiotic supplement during and for at least a week after treatment. Recommendations can range anywhere from 1 to 30 Billion CFU’s (Colony Forming Units) per day, depending on age and symptoms. Some of my favorite probiotic supplements include: Align® probiotic, Culturelle® probiotic, Designs For Health probiotic synergy, and Garden of Life raw probiotics. 

How can we bring the good bacteria back?

Eat cultured and fermented foods! (Of course…) These foods contain healthy bacteria, yeasts and/or fungi that set up shop in our gut as we digest them. To start, aim for one serving of these cultured and fermented foods per day.

Here is a list of fermented and cultured foods to try:


  • Pickles
  • Pickled Fruits and Vegetables
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Homemade Ketchup
  • Kimchi
  • Kvass
  • Fermented Salsa
  • Sourdough Bread 


  • Kefir
  • Buttermilk
  • Cultured Sour Cream (low fat)
  • Lebneh Cheese (low fat)

Let me know what your favorite cultured or fermented food is at Bushwick Nutrition! 

Co-Written by Debi Zvi RD, CDN & Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Reference: Probiotics & Fermented Foods. Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op. 

Edited by the Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team