Boost your health by eating fermented foods

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Fermented food is good for your gut and it's popping up on menus and supermarket shelves across the country.

Fermented food is popping up on menus across the country and on supermarket shelves too.

But beyond a food trend, researchers say they're finding significant health benefits to making fermented food a part of your daily diet

Chef William Pauley serves up lots of different dishes at his restaurant that feature fermented foods.

"We do sauerkraut. We do kimchi. We do pickles," Pauley says.

He also brews more than 100 flavors of kombucha, a type of fermented tea.

Pauley said he thinks every day people should eat something cultured, pickled and fermented.

His love for fermented food was born during a two-year stint in South Korea.

He had painful stomach ulcers growing up. They disappeared in Korea, where fermented food is everywhere.

"There, I got a little bit more balanced," Pauley said. "The cuisine, you know, fermented foods, it really balanced me out."

Dan Brewer is a licensed dietitian and says that fermented foods are great for your gut.

"The healthier your gut is, the healthier overall well-being will be," Brewer said.

Fermented foods are also thought to help reduce heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

"I think there are a lot of health benefits to consuming and making fermented foods," Brewer said.

Another popular fermented food is the South Korean dish kimchi, which Brewer says also has healthful properties, and is rich in vitamins A and C. It's also got lactobacilli bacteria, which has been linked to boosting digestion.

Kimchi is a blend of fermented cabbage, vinegar, chili peppers, scallions and garlic.

Brewer says there are lots of ways to work fermented foods into your diet and it doesn't have to be limited to kombucha or traditional kimchi. Try kefir - a kind of drinkable yogurt - sauerkraut, honey-fermented peaches and apples, or acorn squash kimchi.

"When I started feeling better, it really changed the way that I interacted with the world," Pauley said.

And while many fermented foods, like kombucha, are available in grocery stores, experts say it's easy to ferment food yourself at home. You just need the right fruits and vegetables, salt, the right temperature and time.
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