Fermented foods became more and more widespread in recent years. They are the foods produced or preserved by the action of microorganisms. Fermented foods hold a solid place in cuisines across every culture within the world.

Fermented foods are “foods/beverages made through controlled microbial growth and enzymatic actions on major and minor components of food.” Several foods have been traditionally fermented, including meat, fish, dairy, vegetables, fruits, soybeans, legumes, cereals, etc.

Benefits of Fermented Foods: 

1. Gut/Gastrointestinal Health - It is one of the most important benefits of fermented foods. Studies have shown that a well-balanced microbiota composition within the gut is important for good health. Microorganisms in fermented foods have the potential to exert benefit in the gut through:-

  • Exerting competition with pathogenic bacteria
  • Increases gut-friendly bacteria (pre-biotics)
  • Helps in diarrhoea & functional bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

2.  Mental Health - Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety are usually co-occurring with gut issues. Evidence suggests a potential role of the microbiota-gut-brain axis in mental disorders. Fermented foods lead to enhanced neurotransmitter production in the brain.

3. Immune system - Probiotic content in fermented foods boosts immunity.

4. Anti-inflammatory - Research has shown that - a higher level of fermented soy food (like miso & soy sauce) intake is associated with 10% lower IL-6 concentration, an inflammatory marker.

5. Helps in digestion - The healthy bacteria make food easier to digest through their enzymes.

6. Other benefits - Reduces high blood pressure, improve vitamin synthesis, reduces sweet cravings, positive effects on cardiovascular & metabolic health. Fermented foods reduce the symptom of hypersensitivity to gut stimuli and thus are beneficial in obesity, anorexia, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.

Some Common Fermented Foods consumed around the world:





Fermented Milk Product

Strengthen bones, lowers BP, relieves symptoms of IBS


Fermented Milk Drink

Helps in gastrointestinal dysfunction, improved lactose (milk sugar) digestion, protect from infections


Fermented green/black tea drink

Good source of lactic acid bacteria & yeasts


Fermented Cabbage

Reduction in IBS severity, helps in hypertension, high in potassium,


Fermented Soybean Product

Used as a substitute for meat, a rich source of vit.B12


Fermented Soybean

High in vit.K2 & protein, anti-hypertensive, helps in constipation


Fermented Soybean Paste

Made into soup, contains plant compounds, vitamins & minerals


Spicy, Fermented Vegetable Dish

Improves gut microbiota & digestive health

Other fermented products include sourdough bread, dosa, idli, some cheeses (only those with active/live cultures - e.g. cottage cheese, cheddar, mozzarella & gouda cheese), pickles (e.g. gherkins fermented in salt), etc.

We saw the various health-promoting properties of live microorganisms and/or their metabolites in fermented foods. And not to mention, fermented foods add flavour and punch to your meals with being an excellent addition to a healthy diet!


  • Dimidi, E., Cox, S. R., Rossi, M., & Whelan, K. (2019). Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease. Nutrients11(8), 1806. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081806
  • Yang, Xi. (2018).Associations between intake of dietary fermented soy food and concentrations of inflammatory markers: a cross-sectional study in Japanese workers.The Journal of Medical Investigation. 65
  • Bell, Victoria. (2018). One Health, Fermented Foods, and Gut Microbiota.Foods. 7, 195.doi:10.3390/foods7120195
  • Aslam, H., Green, J., Jacka, F. N., Collier, F., Berk, M., Pasco, J., & Dawson, S. L. (2020). Fermented foods, the gut and mental health: a mechanistic overview with implications for depression and anxiety. Nutritional neuroscience23(9), 659–671. https://doi.org/10.1080/1028415X.2018.1544332

Written By: Gargi P. Shah

Older Post Newer Post