19 Bacteria-Packed Fermented Food Products Your Body Will Love

And by body, we mean your gut.

The gut plays a larger part in our overall health than we once thought. From the size of your waist to your poop (yeah, we went there) and maybe even your mental health, the bacteria that live inside you are seriously powerful.

Your gut contains an ecosystem of good and bad bacteria, and some of us have more good than bad. A bad diet, lack of sleep, too many antibiotics, stress, and the busy Western lifestyle in general have left us with less diversified populations of good bacteria. One of the easiest and best ways to build that population back up with the good guys is by eating fermented food.

Fermentation is the process of preserving foods — a process that has been used for thousands of years worldwide. When a food goes through fermentation, it breaks down. This introduces good bacteria, increases the nutritional value and digestibility, and ups the flavor. Cultures across the globe have been using fermented foods to help with diarrhea, prevent diseases, and keep societies (and even babies!) healthy for centuries. Win, win, win, right?

So where can you find fermented foods? The regular suspects — sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir — are right in the supermarket, but there are also companies turning everyday basics (think: ketchup) into gut-happy products. When you're shopping, look specifically for the words, "fermented," "cultured," or "probiotics," but for now, check out a few of our favorites.

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1 Real Pickles

Not all fermented foods are pickled, and not all pickled are fermented. If you like the sour stuff, make sure you're buying a product that also gives you the benefit of bacteria. How can you tell? Pickled items are usually "pickled" in vinegar, whereas fermented pickles would be made with just water and spices, which turn acidic during the preservation process. ($48 for a pack of 4, realpickles.com)

2 Sourdough Bread

Did you know sourdough gets its sour taste from fermentation? Make some of your own at home with this kit. ($14, culturesforhealth.com)

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3 Greek Yogurt

Even for those who are lactose intolerant, eating fermented dairy-based foods like this Greek yogurt can be beneficial. (find a store near you at nancysyogurt.com)

4 Frozen Kefir

Kefir is a tangy mix between milk and yogurt. Next time you're craving fro-yo, grab a scoop of this instead. Your body will thank you. (find a store near you at lifewaykefir.com)

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5 Multi-Green Kombucha

The next time you feel like you need a little health elixir, skip the classic green juice and head straight for this. The enzymes, bacteria, and super greens will leave you better off. ($3 each, jet.com)

6 Sauces

If you're going to use condiments, they might as well pack a probiotic punch like these fermented sauces. ($36 for a case of 4, baofoodanddrink.com)

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7 Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks

Vinegar in general is a product of fermentation, but it's only the unpasteurized stuff that brings you the benefits of good bacteria. These drinks made with apple cider vinegar will deliver all the goodness without having to actually take a shot of the bitter stuff. ($2.59, bragg.com)

8 Fermented Gochujang

This chile sauce is like Sriracha's cooler older brother. Put it on all your Asian dishes and reap the belly benefits. (2 jars for $18, milkimchi.com)

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9 Cheese on Cheese on Cheese

Yep, even cheese can be good for you if you know which kind to buy. Raw cheese is your best bet for healthy bacteria because it hasn't been pasteurized. The alternative? Make your own cultured cheese with this kit. ($25 each, culturesforhealth.com)

10 Salad Dressing

We know what you're thinking — another condiment that has been fermented? Yes! Go ahead and swap out your entire refrigerator with these belly-loving options. We won't judge. (head to jacobsraw.com for more information)

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