Naturally-fermented food are suddenly the hottest kid on the block, with kimchi pancakes and kefir milkshakes on the menu at the trendiest cafes.
The idea is not new, these fermented foods are teeming with friendly bacteria that can help keep your gut healthy, especially if you get symptoms like bloating, irritable bowel, constipation or diarrhea. An unhealthy gut flora also seems to be linked to inflammatory conditions like arthritis as well as ADHD. Here is a list of food you can try, but remember you only need a tablespoon or two a day as a little bit goes a long way.
While it is convenient to get yoghurt from the supermarket, it is really easy to make your own. All you need is a an insulated chiller bag, food thermometer, a few spoons of good-quality unsweetened yoghurt for your starter and any type of milk. If buying, make sure the yoghurt contains the L acidophilus strain and preferably does not have a lot of sugar.
This is a traditional food from the Causasus region in Europe. Kefir is very similar to yoghurt in taste, although it tends to be runnier, more like a yoghurt drink. You can make it at home but first you will need to get kefir grains (they look like lumps of cauliflower). The grains contain a mixture of friendly bacteria and yeast, and will grow in size the more you use it.
This is probably the easiest pickle to make, all you need is cabbage, salt and a jar! There is natural bacteria on the cabbage that will ferment it, but for the best results, use filtered/spring/boiled water instead of tap. You can also get creative and flavour your pickle with dill seeds, mustard seeds or add colour with carrots and beets.
Korea's most famous export, kimchi is a variation of the same pickling method as sauerkraut but with a different flavour profile. It can be mild or fiery, vegetarian or not. It's a great one to always have in the fridge as it brightens up any meal.
Tempeh is a hero to vegetarians and vegans - it is a pressed, fermented soybean square and has a meaty taste. A palm-sized serve of tempeh contains half the amount of protein in a piece of steak the same size. It It is also rich in calcium and iron. Originally from Indonesia, you can get it in natural health food stores and larger supermarkets. If you are trying it for the first time, I recommend the ones that are marinated in soy.
A Japanese staple, miso comes in many varieties depending on what it is made from. It can range from pale and sweet (shiro miso) to dark and funky (brown rice or barley miso). Health food stores would probably have versions of miso made from non-GMO soybeans and do not contain MSG. Always add miso as the last ingredient in soup, as you don't want to kill all the good bacteria with excessive boiling.