Why are fermented foods fab in menopause?

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Fermented foods, one of the best sources for probiotics, are an ‘on-trend’, food craze of the day.

If you wait long enough everything comes back into style, as is the case for fermentation and food. Well before we had the luxury of refrigeration, lacto-fermentation was the food-preservation tool of choice. Essentially, a micro-bacterial process that uses, as a certain advert says, ‘good bacteria’, in the fermenting process, used to produce foods like dill pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Fermenting foods increases the nutritional value by raising vitamin and minerals levels.

As more than 95% of digestion and absorption of nutrients happens in our gut, keeping it healthy is important. Hot Flush spoke to nutritionist, Joy Skipper, who said, ‘If your guts not working, you’re not going to absorb any nutrients and the chances are that other things aren’t going to be working properly, as everything works together. Gut health is where it starts’.

Healthy gut bacteria are essential for overall health, immunity and good mood but levels can be depleted by eating a diet high in processed foods, sugar, refined carbs, and artificial sweeteners. Joy Skipper told us that after taking a course of antibiotics, it can take up to a year to restore good bacteria levels. So, anything you can do to speed up the process will help, right? Almost 80% of our immune system is found in our digestive tract. Fermented foods are an easy way of putting bacteria back into the gut and helping your immune system.

How can fermented foods be of particular help to us women whose hormones are on the wane? What goes on in your gut affects your brain, the gut being referred to as a second brain. Probiotics in fermented foods support digestion and gut health and have also been shown to supports the immune system and brain function (Survey published in Journal Psychiatry Research, August 2103). Eating fermented foods can help with those menopausal issues, such as; allergies, depression, and bloating. Great sources of vitamin K2, essential for heart and bone health too. 

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Yogurt 

Go for non-sweetened natural yogurt made from “live cultures”. Full-fat for maximum benefit. 

Kefir

A drinking-style yogurt popular in Europe, available in both dairy and soy. It’s typically fermented with around a dozen or more bacteria and yeasts making it a great source of probiotics. Try it as a breakfast smoothie blended with flaxseeds, grated ginger, and fresh pineapple. Tastes good too!

Miso

Fermented soya bean paste, (check on the box that it’s had a minimum of 6 months fermentation, for the best impact on your gut). Great as a side soup at lunchtime, as a stock or in dressings.

Sauerkraut

Ideally make your own, (a great one to get started on the fermenting journey), far tastier and better for you than shop-bought but if you buy ready-made, go for the live variety found in the fridge in health food stores. Be sure it’s fermented.

Sourdough bread

Finally, advice that eating bread is good! Sourdough is a culture of yeasts and beneficial bacteria that occur naturally in bread flour and dough. A long fermentation period allows bacteria to fully break down the carbohydrates and gluten in bread, making it easier to digest, releases its nutrients and helps the body to absorb them more easily. A small Italian study gave volunteers with coeliac disease sourdough and found that it didn’t have an adverse impact. Good news for the gluten-free in search of decent bread, traditionally prepared sourdough bread could be your saviour.

Watch our Hot Flush YouTube vlog on the Health Benefits of Fermented Food with nutritional therapist Joy Skipper.

Fermented foods are popular worldwide. Try out our Hot Flush Korean Style Kimchi, Yucatán-Style Pickled Red Onions, and Kombucha recipes.

See Hot Flush Loves ‘The Cultured Club’ by Dearbhla Reynolds, for more ideas on maintaining gut health.