Fermented foods have been a part of human diet for almost 10,000 years, and their level of diversity in the 21st century is substantial. The health benefits of fermented foods have been intensively investigated; identification of bioactive peptides and microbial metabolites in fermented foods that can positively affect human health has consolidated this interest. Each fermented food typically hosts a distinct population of microorganisms. Once ingested, nutrients and microorganisms from fermented foods may survive to interact with the gut microbiome, which can now be resolved at the species and strain level by metagenomics. Transient or long-term colonization of the gut by fermented food strains or impacts of fermented foods on indigenous gut microbes can therefore be determined. This review considers the primary food fermentation pathways and microorganisms involved, the potential health benefits, and the ability of these foodstuffs to impact the gut microbiome once ingested either through compounds produced during the fermentation process or through interactions with microorganisms from the fermented food that are capable of surviving in the gastro-intestinal transit. This review clearly shows that fermented foods can affect the gut microbiome in both the short and long term, and should be considered an important element of the human diet.
Keywords: diet; fermented foods; food microbiota; gut microbiome.