Better Mood with Fermented Foods

Anne Rollins MS CSSD RD LDN

Fermented foods are all the rage, gaining in popularity in the recent years, although the health benefits of fermented foods have been around for thousands of year in some cultures (see what I did there?).

What is a Fermented Food?

The fermentation process, simplified, is breakdown of usually sugars (but also other carbs and starch) by bacteria and/or yeast.  This method was used to preserve foods thousands of years ago, and the resulting conditions provide favorable microbes, not ones that would make you sick. 

Why Eat Fermented Foods?

These favorable microbes keep harmful ones at bay so you can enjoy those foods longer, but we soon realized that if we eat fermented foods, the good microbes help keep the gut a healthier place, too.

Cascade Effect:

Keeping our guts healthy with the right type of microorganisms has been found to have an impact on pretty much all of the systems in the body.  Primarily because 90% of your serotonin, a neurotransmitter (brain signal) is made in the gut. Serotonin may be more of a household name-neuerotransmitter as it is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs, Selective Seretonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI), found as Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, Paxil or Lexapro.  There are many more as these drugs are usually prescribed for depression and anxiety, conditions dramatically on the rise in the US and developed nations.  Serotonin is involved in mood regulation, appetite and sleep cycles.  I’d say, sleep, nutrition and food/mood impact pretty much everything in the body (and your day).

Common Fermented Foods:


  • kimchi
  • kambucha
  • tempeh
  • natto
  • miso
  • sauerkraut
  • kefir
  • sourdough bread
  • beer

What about all those sugars on the kambucha label?

The sugars are essentially the starter, and have been digested by the microbes.  Labeling laws require manufacturers to list everything that goes “in”.  Sugar must be there, but the microbes have energized themselves with that sugar.  Most fermented foods lower glycemic index.


Fermented foods help your entire gut biome, not just serotonin levels. Research is currently looking at the health benefits associated with fermented foods including the antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, anti diabetic and anti atherosclerotic properties. Most disease states have an inflammatory component, and if we can control inflammation we can decrease the likelihood of developing a disease or we may make the symptoms of the disease less.  So, eat and drink fermentation! 

Want to make your own?  Check out this culture culture!


Anne Rollins MS CSSD RD LDN

Board Certified Sport Dietetics

Registered Dietitian

Owner, embodyFitness

Sports Dietitian, The Core Diet





Sourdough bread


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