Yes, you likely know that fermented foods are superb for gut health—we aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here. However, Pedre says that you might want to start prioritizing fermented foods over fiber foods if you have an unhealthy gut.
He references a study1 in which researchers measured microbial diversity in folks who ate five to eight servings of fiber per day, versus those who ate six cups of fermented foods per day. “What [found] is that a high-fermented foods diet increased microbial diversity in that group and lowered 19 inflammatory markers,” he explains. The fiber-rich group did see positive effects on microbial function and immune response, but it’s interesting that the fermented foods had such a significant effect on inflammation.
For the record, this doesn’t mean you should kick fiber to the curb. “I hate that they pitted fiber-rich [foods] against high-fermented [foods]. I think there should have been a third group where there was no diet intervention, so we could see these two against that as well,” says Pedre. “But it starts to drop some really great questions here, because I don’t think it’s about fiber versus fermented. It’s really about the combination of the two.”
Moral of the story? You might want to up your intake of fermented foods before you load up on fiber, so that you can reduce inflammation and increase microbial diversity before actually feeding those healthy gut bugs—just remember that both food groups are ultimately important for overall gut health.