There’s no doubt that gut health is the foundation of overall well-being. The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in our bodies, affecting everything from our digestive health to our immune systems and mental health. So, what better way to detoxify your body and promote optimal health than with a gut health cleanse (otherwise known as a colon cleanse)?
Fermented foods have been a staple in diets for centuries. They contain beneficial bacteria that help support a healthy gut, making them the perfect choice for a detoxifying cleanse. This article will explore nine fermented foods ideal for detoxifying your body and improving your gut health.
Fermented Foods to Eat During a Gut Health Cleanse
While it may have limited notoriety in the Western world, kefir is a drink enjoyed for centuries in the Middle East and Europe. It’s simply a mix of kefir grains (a mix of bacteria and yeast) and milk allowed to ferment, resulting in a beverage similar to drinkable yogurt.
In addition to being chock-full of probiotics, kefir is an excellent addition to any gut health cleanse due to its many nutrients. It’s a rich source of protein, calcium, and B vitamins necessary for optimal health. Try it on its own or mixed into a smoothie to reap its health benefits.
Recipe: Milk Kefir Recipe
You’ve probably heard of it, but do you know much about sauerkraut? It may be most associated with Germany but is a Chinese invention. It is made by shredding cabbage, salting it, and fermenting it in its juices. This creates lactic acid bacteria, which is excellent for gut health.
Not only that, but sauerkraut is also a good source of fiber, which can be vital in relieving digestive issues like chronic constipation. And the best part is that there are many delicious ways to eat sauerkraut, so it can be easy to fit into your diet.
Popular in Korean cuisine, kimchi is often a spicy, fermented vegetable dish. It is made by fermenting vegetables, typically cabbage, with a blend of seasonings and spices like garlic, ginger, and chili pepper. If you don’t like spicy foods, though, don’t worry - kimchi also comes in other varieties! And if need be, you can even make it at home to your liking with the right supplies.
In addition to the lactic acid created by the fermenting process, kimchi is a good source of nutrients like folate, iron, and vitamins B and K, making it a great gut cleansing food. You can reap its benefits by eating it on its own, adding it to rice, or even using it as a condiment.
If you’re a tea person, kombucha may be your perfect colon cleanser! Kombucha is a fizzy, tart, fermented tea full of flavor. It is made by fermenting a sweetened black or green tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).
The nice thing about kombucha is that not only do you get that good bacteria from the fermentation process, but you also get the benefits of the tea. Research shows that green tea drinkers especially have a reduced risk of colon cancer, so drinking kombucha is perfect for a gut cleanse!
If you’re hesitant to try some of the more unique fermented foods on this list, this one's for you! Yogurt is a fermented dairy product made by adding live cultures of bacteria to milk. The bacteria ferment the lactose in the milk, creating lactic acid and giving yogurt its characteristic tangy flavor.
Yogurt is a great source of calcium, protein, and probiotics, all beneficial for gut health. If you want to ensure you’re getting the most healthy gut bacteria out of your yogurt, though, make sure you specifically look for the probiotic varieties - not all of them have the probiotic strains that help promote a balanced gut microbiota.
This one is typically more of a fermented paste than a food. Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans. You can make it by mixing cooked soybeans with koji (a fungus), salt, and water and allowing the mixture to ferment for several months to several years. Patience is key with this one!
The primary probiotic strain in miso is A. oryzae, which can help with digestive problems like inflammatory bowel disease and constipation. This makes it yet another excellent addition to gut health cleanse diet! Mix it into broth, stir fry, marinade, or salad dressing.
Natto is another traditional Japanese food made from fermenting soybeans. It’s made by adding Bacillus subtilis to boiled soybeans and allowing it to ferment, which is why it’s a good source of probiotics.
But in addition to its probiotic content, natto is a rich source of many other nutrients, including fiber, protein, manganese, iron, copper, and zinc. To take advantage of these nutrients, you may need to get used to natto - it tends to have a robust and nutty smell and an almost slimy texture. Try on rice, with vegetables, or in soups and stews.
This is the last of the soybeans! Tempeh is a fermented soybean that has its roots in Indonesia. It is made by fermenting soybeans with a fungus, binding them together, and creating a dense, meaty texture. This makes it a popular meat alternative among vegetarians, as it’s delicious whether baked, steamed, or sauteed.
Not only is tempeh rich in probiotics, but it is also a good source of prebiotics. And since prebiotics have been associated with increased bowel movements and reduced gut inflammation, there’s no doubt that tempeh is an excellent choice for a colon cleanse diet.
Yes, pickles count as a fermented food! Pickles are cucumbers or other vegetables that have been pickled with vinegar and salt or fermented with bacteria. Pickles can be a great source of those gut-friendly probiotics when you go with the fermented variety.
Knowing the difference between fermented and unfermented vinegar pickles is essential if you're after good gut bacteria. Besides reading the label, here’s a quick tip on distinguishing the two: fermented pickles usually have bubbles in the brine and cloudiness in the jar, while vinegar ones will have more of a clear brine. But if you’re still unsure, you can always make fermented pickles yourself!
Ready to Begin Your Gut Cleanse Using Fermented Foods?
There’s no doubt that probiotic-rich fermented foods are the perfect choice for a gut cleanse and a boost to your overall health. So, to improve your gut health and overall wellness, including some kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, miso, natto, tempeh, and/or fermented pickles into your cleanse - your body will thank you!