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3 Ways to Improve Your Nutrition This Fall

Give your eating habits a fall tune-up by adopting these three simple habits: harvest your herbs, become a soup ninja, and become friends with fermentation. 

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
Episode #449

Fall Nutrition Tip #3: Make a New Fermented Friend

You’ve heard me talk before about the benefits of cultured and fermented foods. These probiotic foods help to promote the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut. Good gut bacteria can aid in digestion, nutrient absorption, and help you maintain a healthy weight. But if yogurt is the only probiotic food in your repertoire, I’d like to challenge you to branch out.

Kefir

Kefir is another cultured dairy product with a slightly different mix of micro-organisms. If you find you like it, it’s also super easy to make at home. Unlike making yogurt, which requires heating and cooling the milk and then holding it at a certain temperature for several hours, making kefir is as easy as pouring milk over kefir grains and leaving it on the counter overnight.

Probiotic foods help to promote the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut.

Fermented Soy

For those who don’t do dairy, there are also lots of fermented foods that are dairy free. Miso, natto, and tempeh are all made from fermented soybeans. In addition to the beneficial bacteria, they provide other health benefits specific to soy. You can find more information about natto here and some delicious ways to use miso here.

Fermented Vegetables

There’s also the wild and wonderful world of fermented vegetables to explore. Unpasteurized (not canned)  sauerkraut and traditionally fermented pickles and other vegetables are great options. You’ll usually find unpasteurized sauerkraut in the refrigerated section of your grocery, often near the fresh pork. A good deli should have the kind of old-fashioned fermented pickles. And with the growing popularity of fermented foods, it’s getting easier and easier to find a variety of fermented and pickled veggies.

If you’re lucky enough to live near an Asian grocery, pick up some spicy kimchi to use as a condiment or side dish. It also makes a delicious omelet filling. When cooking with any fermented food, you want to keep the heating times as brief as possible to avoid killing off all the beneficial bacteria before you eat them.

Kombucha

Kombucha is a type of fermented tea that has gotten so popular that you’ll find it in virtually any grocery store, convenience store, and rest stop. It’s also possible to make at home.

If you catch the fermenting bug (so to speak), the website culturesforhealth.com is a great resource. They sell supplies and equipment for fermenting all kinds of foods, along with lots of great tips, recipes, and suggestions for ensuring your success.

Autumn food image © Shutterstock

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About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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