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Bacteria is typically something we don’t want in our bodies. But did you know that there are trillions of different “good” bacteria in our guts? It’s what fights bad bacteria, keeps us healthy and also aids in digestion. In fact, not having enough of these different kinds of good bacteria are linked to many chronic diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Research is still ongoing to find out exactly why this is.


If you are prescribed an antibiotic, you should pay particular attention to your gut.  Along with the bad bacteria, antibiotics wipe out most of the good bacteria, too. Eating fermented foods or taking a probiotic supplement should restore your gut’s bacteria within about a week after you finish treatment.


For everyday gut health, eating fermented foods can give your good bacteria a boost. Not sure what clarifies as a fermented food? Here are some to try:


Foods for Gut Health

Yogurt – This is probably the most familiar of fermented foods. Both dairy and non-dairy versions pack the same probiotic punch. Some versions even add in extra bacteria and are marketed for digestive health or bowel regularity.


Pickles – This sandwich staple is a fermented food we often overlook. But you have to eat the varieties found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store because the shelf-stable variety are heated and don’t have the probiotic properties you seek.


Kimchi – This traditional Korean side dish is commonly made from fermented cabbage, radish, scallions and spices. But there are plenty of new varieties out there. You can find them in most grocery stores. Try adding kimchi to stir-fries, omelets or quesadillas. But add it at the very end of cooking. Too much heat can kill the healthy probiotics.


Sauerkraut – Again, buy refrigerated varieties. Try sauerkraut on a sandwich, salads or atop your scrambled eggs.


Kombucha – This fermented, sweetened-tea drink has a slight fizzy effect, and is a great alternative to soda. Find it in the refrigerated section.


Kefir – If you’ve never heard of it before, kefir can best be described as a drinkable yogurt. It’s usually safe for the lactose-intolerant because most of the lactose is removed during the fermentation process. You can drink it as is, try it in smoothies or use it in place of yogurt in salad dressings.


Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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