Are Fermented Foods The Secret To Improving Your Gut Health? – with Holly Howe


Today on the Gut Health Reset Podcast, we are discussing fermentation and fermented foods with Holly Howe! Fermented foods have been consumed for hundreds of years and may hold the secret to a healthy gut. Fermentation is a process in which bacteria or other microorganisms convert carbohydrates into acids or alcohols that are easier for the body to digest and utilize.This naturally increases gut bacteria, which in turn helps to seed and nourish the microbiome. Eaten on a regular basis, these foods can offer better digestion, improved nutrient absorption and stronger immunity. So if you’re been wondering how to take your digestion to the next level – fermented foods may be just what you’re looking for!


In today’s episode, we will answer these questions:

– What are fermented foods?

– Why should you include fermented foods in your diet?

– How can you get started with fermenting your own foods at home?

– Who should avoid eating fermented foods?

– And more!


Still want to learn more? Schedule with Dr. Barter today!


Recommended Products From Today’s Show

Wired But Tired


About Holly Howe:

Holly is the founder of a popular resource for online fermentation classes, recipes, and articles, with over 90,000 monthly visitors. A former grade school teacher, she helps students learn how to safely transform everyday vegetables into healthy and delicious fermented foods.


Subscribe for more gut health content and share this podcast with a friend! Take a screenshot of this episode and tag Dr. Ann-Marie Barter:

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter is a Functional Medicine and Chiropractic Doctor at Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic. She is the clinic founder of Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic that has two offices: one in Longmont and one in Denver. They treat an array of health conditions overlooked or under-treated by conventional medicine, called the “grey zone”.

*As always, this podcast is not designed to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any condition and is for information purposes only. Please consult with your healthcare professional before making any changes to your current lifestyle.*



[00:00:00] Holly Howe: And what I love about fermentation, and one thing that’s really transformed me is my connection with not just the bacteria world, but my local economy, my local farmers. If you’re gonna have the greatest success with fermentation, when you preserve. Fresh picked produce. Fermentation is a preservation, not, oh, I wanna make sauerkraut.
[00:00:22] Holly Howe: And this June, well, June’s really, it can be done. And don’t stop making sauerkraut in June cuz you’re ready to learn. You’re ready to learn. But June is not the time that we make sauerkraut. We make it in the late fall from freshly harvested cabbage. Teaming with the beneficial bacteria we need. So our success is almost guaranteed cuz we’re working with fresh produce.
[00:00:46] Holly Howe: The information provided in this podcast is educational and not intended to diagnose or treat medical conditions.
[00:00:52] Intro: Are you struggling with bloating, gas, constipation, and fatigue, but don’t know what’s causing these problems? The Gut Health Reset [00:01:00] Podcast with Dr. Ann-Marie barter dives deep into the root causes behind these issues that start in the gut.
[00:01:05] Intro: This podcast will give you the knowledge you need to heal your gut and reset your health.
[00:01:13] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Today on the Gut Health Reset Podcast, we are gonna talk about fermentation, how fermented foods help with our gut. Who should not do it, and the benefits of fermentation not only on your gut, but also on your pocketbook. Thank you so much for joining us here today on the Gut Health Reset Podcast. I am your host, Dr. Ann-Marie Barter, and I have the pleasure of interviewing Holly. How. The founder of make, the author of Fermentation Made Easy Mouthwatering Sauerkraut and the creator of the online program Ferment like a Pro. Hey, Holly, it is so great to have you on the podcast today.
[00:01:54] Holly Howe: Thank you, Ann-Marie.
[00:01:55] Holly Howe: I’m happy to be here and happy to help people learn about flavorful, [00:02:00] fermented foods and how they can improve their gut health.
[00:02:02] Holly Howe: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, I get actually a lot of questions in practice about, you know, should, uh, you know, cuz I do a lot of gut testing and, and should people do fermented foods to help populate their microbiome or their good gut bacteria.
[00:02:20] Holly Howe: So first, you know, cuz I don’t think everyone knows what is
[00:02:25] Holly Howe: fermentation. That, that’s a great question to start with because, um, fermented foods, fermentation is an ancient way of preserving. Been around for forever. It’s how we preserved our foods before the advent of the refrigerator or canning. And unfortunately, during the, um, industrial process and the way our foods are now preserved, we’ve lost the benefits of these fermented foods.
[00:02:49] Holly Howe: When I look at fermented foods, some people talk about it as like control rot. I see it as this magical, wonderful, beautiful transformation. If you think [00:03:00] about milk and compare the flavors of milk to cheese, they’re dramatically different. And that’s thanks to the bacteria. We are powered by bacteria and we need to be grateful to those bacteria, not afraid of them, but think of all those flavors of cheese, that’s thanks to the bacteria that get in there during the, uh, transformation of milk to cheese and transformative flavors.
[00:03:23] Holly Howe: If we think about, um, cabbage and as that’s ferment. Bacteria are in their eating sugars, the sugars, their carbohydrates in the food, and transforming them into lactic acid with vegetable fermentation or preservative. So fermentation to me is, um, welcoming bacteria into our world and setting up a home for them so they can go to work in that vessel of vegetables or milk, et cetera, and to transform it into this powerful.
[00:03:55] Holly Howe: That we eat as part of our meal that can then transform and support our gut health. [00:04:00]
[00:04:00] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So what benefits or have you seen associated with, uh, fermented foods on
[00:04:08] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: people’s guts?
[00:04:10] Holly Howe: Well, you know, fermented foods, I, I had to kind of step back a minute here. I’ve got into fermented foods because of a book I read by a, um, dentist who’s went and he, um, Western a.
[00:04:23] Holly Howe: He practiced dentistry in the twenties and thirties and noticed that his patients were gradually losing their dental health with more dental caries and, and narrow arch, et cetera. And he was curious if there was people who had perfect teeth. And he went in search of primitive cultures with perfect teeth and, you know, the, uh, Australian Aborigines, the, uh, native Africans, the Irish fishermen, et cetera.
[00:04:49] Holly Howe: And he looked at their diets, their foods and how they. And a common thread through all of it was the inclusion of fermented foods in their diet. So these fermented foods [00:05:00] we know today because of all the research on the gut microbiome that started about 15 years ago, but they intuitively knew they needed to eat fermented foods, but they work on taking care of our gut health and um, by feeding the bacteria that are in our gut microbiome.
[00:05:18] Holly Howe: By providing probiotics and prebiotics. The probiotics are the bacteria that help with the, our medium system, keeping our gut lining healthy. Um, and then, uh, metabolites producing those all sorts of things these bacteria do that we’re not even really aware of, but they’re in there working for us. And then the, so there’s probiotics and prebiotics that feed the bacteria, et cetera.
[00:05:41] Holly Howe: So these wonderful things, helping to keep a strong, robust gut health. Turn impacts our overall health, our immune system, our energy levels, the foods we crave, et cetera. Absolutely.
[00:05:55] Holly Howe: What’s eight prices? Um, I mean, he was brilliant. His [00:06:00] research was on another level that, uh, you know, in my opinion still holds very, very true today.
[00:06:07] Holly Howe: Um, but we’ve definitely gotten away from that, haven’t
[00:06:10] Holly Howe: we? Right. It’s like I looked at so many different diets over my lifetime and trying you. Diet of the day, and I keep going back to what they call the Nourishing Traditions diet, just based on the findings of Western egg price, because it makes sense.
[00:06:26] Holly Howe: It’s like, let’s go find the healthy people, look at what they ate and how they prepared it. And it’s all real foods properly sourced and properly prepared. And that’s where that, you know, great health comes from. It’s pretty amazing.
[00:06:40] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So I think probably one of the number one. Questions that comes into my office, or the number one kind of gut complaints that come in, um, is bloating, uh, is one Yes.
[00:06:54] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Constipation, diarrhea in acid reflux. [00:07:00] Have you, have you noticed, I mean, because you’ve been doing this for a while, have you noticed that some of those complaints improve, uh, when people start eating more fermented foods?
[00:07:13] Holly Howe: Well, well definitely, you know, you know, I’m not a doctor, so I can’t work with my, um, readers and people who enroll in my courses and buy my book and stuff as a, you know, nutritional consultant.
[00:07:24] Holly Howe: But definitely, I, I do ask when people subscribe to my newsletter, what’s their number one reason for wanting to learn how to ferment foods? And 99% of the time goes back to gut health because that’s so much in the press now, and doctors are saying, take care of your gut. And fermented foods are great for gut health.
[00:07:41] Holly Howe: And so people do complain. Acid reflex, again, bloating, constipation, et cetera. And I do get emails back from them going, that has dramatically repro improved. It’s over a couple weeks later, all of a sudden my bloating’s gone, et cetera. And one thing about like the bloating and the acid [00:08:00] reflex is, um, through the fermentation process, the bacteria create lactic acid.
[00:08:07] Holly Howe: That lactic acid acts as a preservative, and that helps with our digest. Our hydrochloric acid production goes down as we ate, and so by consuming the fermented foods, we helped replace and bring back up those acid to help with digestion. So definitely I get wonderful emails of people who swear by the fermented food.
[00:08:30] Holly Howe: I don’t see it as a diet per se. It’s more including this wonderful, magical. Probiotic instead of buying it in a jar, but including this fermented food as part of your daily diet. It’s not starting a new diet, but it’s realizing that these fermented foods help the digestion of whatever foods we are eating, whatever diet we’re on.
[00:08:52] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: What have you seen too, um, have you noticed anything with weight loss?
[00:08:57] Holly Howe: Um, not really. You know, I don’t, like I say [00:09:00] I don’t delve into a lot, but I had read the research. Um, there’s one like famous mouse. Where they transplant the bacteria from the fat mouse into the skinny mouse and the skinny mouse then gains weight.
[00:09:13] Holly Howe: So there’s a lot of research out there on the gut microbiome and on weight loss, but I haven’t really heard specific, um, you know, results from people who, you know, learn to ferment on their weight loss. But I do know. The bacteria in our gut send information to us on what foods we should be consuming, and sometimes that can be the wrong message because the wrong bacteria are in the air.
[00:09:41] Holly Howe: And it’s pretty amazing when people first start to eat fermented foods, they can’t get enough of them. They actually crave them and wanna go through that whole jar of sauerkraut in one city, which can create problems because all of a sudden, Unhealthy digestive system has not been used to all these [00:10:00] bacteria, and you’re dumping billions and billions of bacteria in there, and it’s way too much.
[00:10:04] Holly Howe: So I always have to caution people that this is a condiment and we need to consume it as a condiment. Just one or two fork fulls mainly. You know, I work a lot with the sauerkraut, but one or two fork fulls of that with two or three meals a day and look at maybe variety. It’s not that we sit down and eat that whole jar in one day.
[00:10:23] Holly Howe: Which people love to do because the bacteria are saying to you that this is the right food for me. This is what I need. Feed me more of this. So in essence, that can happen with cravings for high sugar foods, et cetera, because of the imbalance in the gut bacteria. So once that’s balanced, then we aren’t craving those high sugary, high carbohydrate foods.
[00:10:46] Holly Howe: So that in essence becomes the weight loss. Absolutely. I
[00:10:51] Holly Howe: think that’s, You know, just to kind of further, you know, support what you’re, Uh, what I’ve noticed has been, you [00:11:00] know, when I’ll run stool tests again and when somebody has an h pylori infection, um, there’s one particular patient said, you can do one thing.
[00:11:09] Holly Howe: I won’t change. My diet, won’t do anything. I gave him a probiotic. He had burle inspectors. And so that is basically like, Hey, you could get some stomach cancer. You definitely have gerd, et cetera. And he came back a year later, so I gave him a probiotic, came back a year later, we ran his test and he had no more bur burial inspectors.
[00:11:28] Holly Howe: So, and, and you know, certainly like something active. Like kimchi or sour ccr. Yeah, all of that is going to be
[00:11:36] Holly Howe: incredible.
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[00:12:44] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So what are you waiting for? Go visit Dr. Ann-Marie Barter and get 10% off your supplement bundle. Ciao. And now back to our episode. So, so is there anyone that shouldn’t? Do [00:13:00] fermented foods before we kind of dive into the nitty gritty of it.
[00:13:04] Holly Howe: Um, I, I know I hear a lot about i b s that bowels may be too imbalanced for the fermented foods yet, and to work on taking care of your gut lining before we start throwing in the fermented period.
[00:13:19] Holly Howe: Um, I do know that, um, people worry about consuming foods if they’re supposed to be on a low salt. And I keep coming back to them going again. These are, um, condiments. They’re a supplement to your diet. And if you look at the sodium content in a bite of sauerkraut, it’s minimal. It’s not something to worry about in your diet.
[00:13:42] Holly Howe: But people are told to be go on a low salt, no salt diet. And I also go back to you can make sauerkraut with a little bit less salt to reduce that and also working on. Using what I call a mineral rich salt, which has all the minerals intact. It hasn’t been [00:14:00] processed, and so it’s a, it’s a food that your body can use versus just a sodium, highly processed salt.
[00:14:06] Holly Howe: So, um, and then, um, I do know some people with, um, candida are concerned about eating fermented foods, and I had not done much research into it, but I, what I have read on it, it is still healthy for your gut. And to me it’s, um, learning to listen to your body, take and consume that fermented food, and pay attention to how it impacts you, and then decide if it’s creating problems or not.
[00:14:33] Holly Howe: If things are good, then you can keep consuming a little bit more and gradually increase it. It is a wonderful food to eat and your body does crave it, but we really need to listen to our body. Our body gives us a lot of little messages on what works and doesn’t work, and if we learn to listen to that, We can, um, take care of our health and heal it.
[00:14:55] Holly Howe: Yeah, I think that’s a great answer.
[00:14:56] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: And I think, I think what’s happening is maybe people [00:15:00] dive in too fast with adding in some of the
[00:15:03] Holly Howe: fermented foods. Yeah, exactly. So,
[00:15:08] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: ha, so how do we do this? How do improvement foods,
[00:15:13] Holly Howe: that’s my specialty. I love it. I, I love the process. And I love what these bacteria have taught me over the years and um, what I’ve learned myself over the years with it.
[00:15:24] Holly Howe: But, um, I’d like to start off with say that fermentation is a science, just like baking bread. And even baking cookies are a science. Well, when I tell people that to work well with fermentation have the success you want, you need to use a scale, they kind of back off and wanna be more creative. But when you think about it, if you were to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies, You’re not just gonna throw in about that much butter and sprinkle in some sugar.
[00:15:50] Holly Howe: You are following a recipe. And that recipe is based on science of how, you know, sugars and carbohydrates and flowers and everything [00:16:00] interact. And so fermentation is the same thing. It is a science, the, uh, study they have done on bacteria that grow in. Do like I’m talking with lacto fermentation right now, which is the fermentation of vegetables, which includes pickles, cucumbers, and uh, cabbages and sauerkraut, et cetera.
[00:16:18] Holly Howe: And they do prefer a set. Salinity is set percentage of salt in their environment at that correct concentration of salt. The beneficial bacteria proliferate. And so the good guys that we need, the probiotics that we need, they love that salt, the environment, they love it at a certain salt concent. Which is like one tablespoon of salt in a jar.
[00:16:40] Holly Howe: Sauerkraut approximately. Um, if we don’t use enough salt, then the bacteria that create rot come in and proliferate and we end up with a moldy mess that we don’t want to touch. Then all the, you know, bad bacteria can proliferate in [00:17:00] there. The, uh, e coli, if it’s not down in. Level that we need. So the pathogenic back by setting up, weighing things at the scale and putting in the right amount of ingredients.
[00:17:13] Holly Howe: Then we get the bacteria we want, they can grow and the type of bacteria, the strains will change over during the fermentation process. But we have a successful ferment. So, um, Did I answer the question? No, did
[00:17:27] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: You did. And so your, your specialty is more sauerkraut, correct? Why is that?
[00:17:32] Holly Howe: Yeah. Fermented vegetables.
[00:17:34] Holly Howe: Why the sauerkraut? Because, um, again, it was an easy, it was, you know, fermented foods are something that all these traditional cultures aid easy one to start with. I, when we learned about it, I went and bought bubby sauerkraut and we started consuming. Irk Kraut because you can make it in so many different flavors.
[00:17:58] Holly Howe: I’ve only made plain [00:18:00] sauerkraut one or two times, which is just cabinet and salt and nothing. But there’s apple and lemon zest, and lime zest and onions, and anything imaginable can go into that jar, and the sauerkraut goes so well with any. If you add to your eggs, it makes the flavors pop. Like kimchi is really nice, so I’m not scrambled eggs.
[00:18:27] Holly Howe: You can add it to a salad, you can put it on top of a hamburger, you can just have it alongside your dinner. So I like sauerkraut for its versatility that I can add it to any meal. And I know if I eat one or two fort folds a day, I’m taking care of, I’ve gotten all that I need for, um, my gut health so that that ferment.
[00:18:46] Holly Howe: When we, uh, we start off with saying it’s a science and that we need to use the correct amount of salt, but what we’re doing is we’re setting up an environment for that, those bacteria with sauerkraut, we’re slicing cabbage real thin. We’re mixing in some flavoring [00:19:00] ingredients and adding in the salt.
[00:19:03] Holly Howe: That salt pulls the water out of the cabbage cells in the cells and the other vegetables to create a brine fermentation of vegetable. The anaerobic process without air again, that’s gonna get the right area to grow and the pathogenic bacteria to die off. So we have all that sliced cas, just like a bowl of Colts law.
[00:19:25] Holly Howe: We mix in that salt. It shrinks down as the water’s pulled out and we have this nice brine, it gets packed into a jar and we push it down below the brine, sometimes using a weight to hold it below the brine, and then we leave it to ferment and as ferment those bacteria. Are working for us. They’re eating the, uh, sugars in there to create that lactic acid.
[00:19:46] Holly Howe: The pH is getting lowered and within three days it’s down to a safe level. The pH is down at a rural, you know, low level where the pathogenic bacteria can’t grow, and then we leave it to prevent anywhere from seven days to [00:20:00] three weeks to develop the flavors. Those bacteria are transforming that cabbage that start out raw at.
[00:20:10] Holly Howe: If it’s a rabbit, you can go up to almost 695 milligrams of vitamin C per one cup serving. So during that fermentation process, they’re creating these wonderful nutrients and enzymes and stuff for us. And then we have a food that, uh, helps us with our gut health.
[00:20:25] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: That’s awesome. And, and there is another benefit to fermenting foods at home.
[00:20:30] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So how much money can we save by doing this at.
[00:20:36] Holly Howe: Um, you know, lots of money. And when you, when you start looking at the costs, you know, now it’s trendy. When I started this 20 years ago, there was very few, um, available fermented foods on the market. Even kombucha wasn’t popular, but once you have your jars and a few, you can use kind of homemade weights, but a few wastes the whole thing’s below the brine.
[00:20:58] Holly Howe: Once you have your initial [00:21:00] investment of say, uh, you know, $50 for your equipment, Then it’s really just the cost of the cabbage and the vegetables. And what I love about fermentation, and one thing that’s really transformed me is my connection with not just the bacteria world, but my local economy, my local farmers, is you’re gonna have the greatest success with fermentation when you preserve fresh picked produce.
[00:21:26] Holly Howe: Hmm. Fermentation is a preservation, not, oh, I wanna make sauerkraut in this June. Well, June’s. It can be done. And don’t stop making sauerkraut in June cuz you’re ready to learn. You’re ready to learn. Learn. But June is not the time that we make sauerkraut. We make it in the late fall from freshly harvested cabbage that are teaming with the beneficial bacteria we need.
[00:21:50] Holly Howe: So our success is almost guaranteed cuz we’re working with fresh produce. So when you start learning to ferment, you start tuning into what’s growing in your environment and where the farmers are that [00:22:00] produce. And it’s this wonderful network of people you start connecting with, um, for your health.
[00:22:08] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: That’s fantastic. And you have a course teaching people how to ferment their own
[00:22:14] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: foods, correct?
[00:22:16] Holly Howe: Correct. I ha I have a book on sauerkraut, uh, fermentation Made Easy, mouthwatering sauerkraut. And then I have, uh, two courses, one on sauerkraut and then one on fermented vegetables, which are your, um, cucumbers into pickles and carrot sticks and, um, different ways of preserving your vegetable.
[00:22:36] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So what makes your class.
[00:22:38] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Different from maybe something that someone would find on Pinterest or on Google
[00:22:43] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: or whatnot.
[00:22:44] Holly Howe: Um, you know, it all sits in one place so it’s contained. And you could even go on my website and get plenty of information and get started with fermentation without spending, you know, penny on education.
[00:22:55] Holly Howe: Um, but it’s, uh, any of these things that we’re trying to [00:23:00] learn to do. We can find, searching the internet and watching YouTube, but uh, through trial and error. So many things I’ve learned over the years and it working with, I started my website in 2014, was doing uh, live courses prior to that, you know, local courses.
[00:23:17] Holly Howe: But I’ve tried so many things over the years that I’ve made all the mistakes for you. And so it’s just nice to know this is the process, this is what works. Even my online recipe, you can be, just follow that, that there’s no cost to jump into that and be quite successful. Cause I include all these tips.
[00:23:36] Holly Howe: You know, just like, um, say salt, when I first started fermenting, I grabbed any salt. Then I started buying kind of a, um, a wet salt. The, um, I’m trying to think of the name of it right now. And I ended up with a lot of moldy batches. So then I experimented around with different salts to use. And so that’s why I recommended a Himalaya pink salt or real salt.
[00:23:57] Holly Howe: And I used to just grab a tablespoon to measure it. And then I [00:24:00] started realizing how important it’s to. So you get just all the tips in one little place and uh, like I say, it’s all there on the online recipe too. They Sure. Fire sauerkraut and a jar. But, uh, yeah, all of us, we have our expertise and you can grab it in different ways.
[00:24:16] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: That’s amazing.
[00:24:17] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: And where can people find
[00:24:18] Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: you if they wanna get in touch with you?
[00:24:21] Holly Howe: Um, my website is make So M a k e S A U E. K r a u and that’s the website. And there is, uh, Facebook under the same name, um, Pinterest, Instagram. And if they, um, if you go to the homepage or in the footer there, there’s, uh, seven fermentation mistakes most people make.
[00:24:45] Holly Howe: And where I go over kind of the basics and if you end up subscribing to that, I kinda introduce you to myself and my philosophy. And then, uh, there is a course discount, um, as you work your way through the emails on that.
[00:24:58] Holly Howe: That is wonderful. Well, [00:25:00] thank you so much for being here today and sharing your knowledge about fermentation.
[00:25:05] Holly Howe: This has just been so interesting. So thank you so much
[00:25:07] Holly Howe: for being here. You’re welcome. It was always fun to, to share and uh, help. People out there.
[00:25:17] Outro: Thank you for listening to the Gut Health Reset podcast. Please make sure you subscribe, leave a rating and a review so more people can hear about the podcast. And hey, take a screenshot of this episode and tag Dr. Ann-Marie on Instagram or Facebook at Dr. Ann-Marie Barter. And for more resources, just visit dr annmarie

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