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    Mayo Clinic Minute: Figuring out fermented foods

You may have heard that fermented foods, such as sauerkraut or the fermented tea drink kombucha, are good for your health. Dr. Joseph Murray, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, says some people may benefit from fermented foods, but he warns that there are pros and cons that go along with taking these products.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (0:58) is in the downloads. Read the script.

Fermented foods are all the rage. But are they really healthy?

“Whenever we take what’s a natural product, we do have to beware there’s good and bad potential.”

Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Joseph Murray says fermented foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi or the tea product called kombucha contain “good bugs” or microorganisms that may promote good health and aid digestion …

“… which, for some people, can help them feel better ─ maybe help them have a more regular bowel habit. But it’s not to be underestimated. Some people don’t tolerate it so well.”

Dr. Murray says fermented foods have been taken for good health for centuries. The “good bugs” in these foods may help treat diarrhea, especially after taking antibiotics; prevent and treat urinary tract, yeast and intestinal infections; help manage irritable bowel syndrome; and may shorten the severity of a cold or flu.

“We have a community of bugs that live on us and in us.”

And the bugs in fermented foods may work for some people. But Dr. Murray says researchers continue to learn more about benefits and risks of fermented foods.