MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Foods are going old school, in the name of stomach health.

From sauerkraut to kimchi, fermented foods are in the spotlight and on a lot of dinner plates. WCCO looked into the craze and the health claims.

They spread their appetite for this food trend through regular classes and an uncanny menu. It’s been four years since two South Dakota sisters opened their doors to Gyst on Eat Street in Minneapolis. Hundreds have come from out of state to learn what our ancestors discovered to prolong the shelf-life of foods.

At Gyst, fermented foods have been through a process where salt is added to form its own brine. Both preserving the food and creating beneficial enzymes in the process like B-vitamins, Omega 3 fatty acids and probiotics. Similar to the way beer and bread are made.

“The research is showing that we kind of lost that beneficial bacteria on our skin in our systems because we’re so clean,” Ky Guse said.

Packaged and processed foods took over.

“There all of a sudden became an increase in allergies, sensitivities.  A lot of increases in auto immune diseases,” Guse said.

It’s believed that highly-processed foods are depleting the bacteria that lives in our bodies, specifically in our stomachs.

University of Minnesota Food Science Professor Ted Labuza explains how the foods we eat are fermented in that microbiome, the chemicals then get into our blood stream and brain.

“We’re studying more the bacteria that are in our gut. We call that the microbiom and there’s more bacteria there than there are cells in in our body,” Labuza said.

Sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha top the fermented list with health benefits.

Even at 77, Labuza eats yogurt twice a day to ensure his bacteria count stays up in his stomach. It’s science, Labuza believes we’re only just beginning to grasp.

“I think we’ve got about another 20 years of research that needs to be done for us to understand it,” Labuza said.

“Your gut microbiom is almost like your fingerprint. Everyone’s is going to be completely different,” Guse said.

Back at Gyst, there’s a focus to make fermented food taste good, too. Likening these jars to long-lasting medicine you won’t mind taking.

“People really want to know where their food comes from. People want to feel good and balanced in life,” Ky Guse said.

So how often should eat fermented foods? Some health experts say eating them daily will strengthen your immune system, reduce bloating and control weight and will help many digestive issues.

If you’re new to the fermented food scene, start with one tablespoon of sauerkraut or one pickle a day.

Liz Collin