Functional Medicine

Fermented Foods and Gut Health: Functional Medicine Clinic


Fermentation is a process where bacteria and yeast are used to break down foods. The fermentation process has been around for centuries and was initially produced to preserve foods, improve flavor and eliminate toxins. Research has found that eating fermented foods can also increase the beneficial bacteria/probiotics in the gut. Functional medicine practitioners recommend these foods for their health benefits, including improved digestion, increased immunity, and weight loss and maintenance.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods and beverages undergo controlled microbial growth and fermentation in which microorganisms like yeast and bacteria break down food elements like sugars/glucose into other products like organic acids, gases, or alcohol. The process gives fermented foods unique taste, aroma, texture, and appearance. There are many different types of fermented foods, including:

Whole foods like vegetables, fruits, cereals, dairy, meat, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds can go through fermentation. These foods are nutritious in their original form, but through fermentation, they can provide probiotic and prebiotic health benefits.


Probiotics are live microorganisms that benefit the gut by creating a more favorable digestive environment. This helps:

  • Digest food easier.
  • Support a healthy immune system.
  • Support organ health – lungs, reproductive organs, skin.
  • Improves mood.

However, not all fermented foods contain probiotics, especially commercially produced foods that are pasteurized, killing bacteria and their associated health benefits.


Prebiotics are food ingredients that the microorganisms like gut bacteria consume to grow and live, leading to improving the digestive environment. These include:

  • Milk
  • Honey
  • Tomato
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye

However, most fruits, vegetables, and legumes contain prebiotics.

The Benefits of Fermented Foods

Fermented foods’ health benefits include reduced risk of:

  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity

They have also been linked to:

  • Better weight management
  • Improved brain activity
  • Increased bone health
  • Faster recovery after exercise and physical activity

There are currently no official guidelines regarding how often individuals should eat fermented foods. It is recommended to consult a nutritionist or dietician to figure out the best nutrition plan for the individual and their needs.

The Science


Aslam, Hajara, et al. “Fermented foods, the gut, and mental health: a mechanistic overview with implications for depression and anxiety.” Nutritional neuroscience vol. 23,9 (2020): 659-671. doi:10.1080/1028415X.2018.1544332

Dimidi, Eirini, et al. “Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease.” Nutrients vol. 11,8 1806. 5 Aug. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11081806

King, Sarah, et al. “Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” The British journal of nutrition vol. 112,1 (2014): 41-54. doi:10.1017/S0007114514000075

Kok, Car Reen, and Robert Hutkins. “Yogurt and other fermented foods as sources of health-promoting bacteria.” Nutrition reviews vol. 76, Suppl 1 (2018): 4-15. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuy056

Parker, Elizabeth A et al. “Probiotics and gastrointestinal conditions: An overview of evidence from the Cochrane Collaboration.” Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.) vol. 45 (2018): 125-134.e11. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2017.06.024

Şanlier, Nevin, et al. “Health benefits of fermented foods.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition vol. 59,3 (2019): 506-527. doi:10.1080/10408398.2017.1383355

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Fermented Foods and Gut Health: Functional Medicine Clinic" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.


Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*


Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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