How much fermented food should I eat?

Salad with avo and sauerkraut

A guideline on how to incorporate fermented food into your daily meals.

You have recently discovered fermented food and it’s delicious!

But how much should you consume? Can you have too much?

Every persons biochemistry, genetics and microbiome are unique. Add to that varying degrees of health, different types, flavours and amounts of fermented food ingested equals a large amount of varying effects and outcomes on the body and mind from person to person.

The following is a general guideline on how to incorporate fermented food into your daily meals and suggested adverse effects to look out for.

Eating fermented food for the first time may commonly cause gas and bloating if your body is not used to all the fibre and probiotics. Headaches, skin eruptions and flu-like symptoms can also occur. If these symptoms persist and/or should you experience uncomfortable diarrhea or constipation, then we recommend you consult a registered dietician. A small percentage of people are unable to tolerate some strains of probiotics. There are certain health conditions whereby probiotics can exacerbate the symptoms, for example small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and histamine sensitivity. These conditions need to be resolved before introducing fermented food.

Cultured Veggies, Sauerkraut and Kimchi:

Cultured (fermented) food should be served as a condiment with your meal. You can enhance the effect of the probiotics in your cultured food by eating food high in prebiotic compounds. These prebiotics are food for your probiotics. Read What are prebiotics? for a list of food high in prebiotics.

Healthy and eating fermented food for the first time

Start with a half teaspoon of the brine for the first couple of days and then move onto a forkful per day. Work your way up slowly over a month period to 2 forkfuls per day with each meal.

Healthy and already eat a variety of fermented foods?

Enjoy around 2 forkfuls per day with each meal.

Please note:

Kimchi and Sauerkraut are high in sodium. If you have cardiovascular or renal conditions please consult a dietician before consuming.

Fermented food is high in lactic acid which can be abrasive to the teeth if you consume too much.

Fermented (Probiotic) Beverages: Milk Kefir, Water Kefir and Kombucha

In this article we look specifically at milk kefir, water kefir and kombucha. There are other probiotic beverages such as Beet Kvass.

Healthy and drinking fermented beverages for the first time

Start with a 1/4 cup (60mls) for the first day or two and work your way up to 250mls per day.

You may find that you have adverse effects to one particular beverage and not to another. Water kefir, milk kefir and kombucha have different probiotics, vitamins and minerals, as well as some common strains. There are other compounds you may wish to note for example fructose in water kefir and kombucha and lactose in milk kefir. Some people may be intolerant to lactose in milk or the particular milk protein. This may vary depending on the milk you are fermenting and the time period you are fermenting for. The longer you ferment your milk the lower the level of lactose. A raw milk will have superior nutrition and a milk with the type A2 beta-casein protein is usually more tolerable. The compounds in your kombucha will also depend on which tea you use and the sugar levels will depend on the length of your brew time. The sugar levels in your water kefir will also depend on your brew time and the type and amount of sugar used.

For a guideline on the nutrition found in these ferments, read the following:

Milk Kefir
Water Kefir
Kombucha

You could try all 3 (not at the same time, start with 1 first and slowly add small amounts of the other types) and see which beverage suits your biochemistry the best.

Healthy and already eat a variety of fermented foods?

Enjoy about 250mls a day of your favourite probiotic beverage or alternate each day between the different probiotic beverages and benefit from a variety of probiotic strains and nutrition. For example day 1 drink milk kefir, day 2 drink water kefir and day 3 drink kombucha.

Take a look at our recipes section for serving and flavouring ideas.