Which is better for your gut: fiber or fermented foods?
Fermented foods, on the other hand, are created through fermentation (duh), in which food components like natural sugars are broken down by yeast and bacteria, resulting in the food bursting with probiotics (aka “good bugs”). . Some examples include kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and yogurt, among others.
Summing it all up in one sentence: dietary fiber feed of good bugs in your gut, while fermented foods help increase the actual number of those good bugs. Both are ultimately important for optimal gut health, and one is not necessarily “better” than the other. However, if you’re just starting your gut health journey, you may want to load up on fermented foods before fiber load.
Pedre links to the mindbodygreen podcast research 1 in which researchers measured microbial diversity in people who ate five to eight servings of fiber a day compared to those who ate six cups of fermented foods a day: “What [they found] is that a diet high in fermented foods increased microbial diversity in this group and decreased 19 markers of inflammation,” he explains.
Note that the high-fiber group did see positive effects on microbial function and immune response, but fermented foods had a significant effect on inflammation. However, you can increase your intake of fermented foods before introducing significant amounts of fiber to reduce inflammation and increase microbial diversity before actually feeding healthy gut bugs.
Again, just remember that both food groups are important for overall gut health. “I hate that they are high in fiber [foods] against highly fermented [foods]. I think there should have been a third group where there was no dietary intervention so we could have contrasted those two,” says Pedre. “But this is where really great questions start to arise, because I don’t think it’s about fiber. compared to fermented. It’s actually a combination of the two.”