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Can Expecting Moms Eat Fermented Food During Pregnancy?

Ever wondered if it’s safe to consume lots of fermented food during pregnancy? Sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir are all excellent for the gut microbiome, but do they affect pregnant women differently? Here’s the truth of the matter.

Having a healthy gut microbiome during pregnancy is extremely important. The best way to correct most gut issues and lay the ground work for a healthy life (pregnant or not) is by taking care of your digestive system; and that means incorporating more fermented foods.

As for pregnant women, there isn’t much research on potential negative side effects of fermented food. In Asian countries like Japan, women continue eating fermented foods like soy beans, yogurt, pickles, and miso without any issues.

Furthermore, prenatal doctors often encourage probiotic capsules to women who are expecting. This recommendation has more research behind it than fermented foods like kombucha: there’s human and animal research showing that using Lactobacillus probiotics during pregnancy can reduce the risks of both pre-eclampsia and premature birth. Probiotics also can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce excess abdominal weight gain.

If you love fermented food and want to continue eating it during pregnancy, it’s probably best to stick to ‘store-bought’

The risk involved with fermented foods is mostly due to the possibility of accidentally growing harmful bacteria at home. Since home fermentation is growing in popularity, there are more people trying to make their own fermented foods without the oversight of a professional or a safety panel. As a result, most doctors discourage eating anything fermented in one’s own home during pregnancy, as there’s no real way to know what’s going in the gut.

The fermentation process also creates alcohol as a byproduct, which can harm the fetus if over-consumed during pregnancy. That being said, many cultures likely fermented their own food for centuries and ate it with great success — pregnant women included. Most modern “rules” surrounding pregnancy are aimed at eliminating all risk, which is fine. But the human body can handle a lot, especially when being fed all-natural ingredients each day.

So what’s a future mom to do? Take your probiotics, and keep fermented foods in your diet if they’re something you enjoy. Maybe just stick to store-bought options and skip the kombucha until you’re done breastfeeding. Otherwise, no need to avoid fermented food during pregnancy– your gut needs them, and baby will appreciate the added nutrition.

Check out our recipe for homemade fermented ginger ale HERE.

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