Introduction to Gut Health
Gut Health for Older Adults. You have indeed seen the news headlines stating things like “the gut is the second brain” or “intestinal microbes are making you depressed”, among others. It took western medicine incredibly long to establish that the hundreds of millions of microorganisms living in our intestines have a crucial role in our health and well-being.
Before recent discoveries, it was thought the microbes in our bowels were simply responsible for digesting food and keeping away pathogens. However, in recent decades it has been well-established that not only are microbes incredibly important for a healthy metabolism. But they actually control everything from our mood to our hormonal function.
The microbes of our intestines consist of different kinds of bacteria and yeasts. The whole mass of microorganisms within your gut can weigh several pounds. And is referred to as the gut flora and consists of billions of individual microbes.
Benefits of Optimal Gut Health
Benefits for older adults with optimal gut health include faster mobility, more muscle mass, lower cholesterol, more energy, better skin integrity, less inflammation-related joint pain, and even optimized brain function.
Gut Health for Older Adults. It’s not surprising that they also play a significant role in food digestion, immune health and overall functioning of your digestion. If you suffer from digestive issues like constant bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, your gut flora may not be in balance. You see, there are beneficial and not-so-beneficial microbes that can colonize your gut and all the microbes fight for survival with each other. The winners get to keep the house, which is your gut. If the winners consist of more not-so-beneficial microbes, they can have digestive issues.
Diet Is Important For Gut Flora
Gut Health for Older Adults. It has even been proven that some harmful microorganisms are associated with metabolic diseases. Also, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and even some forms of cancer.
This seems frightening, but it’s important to know this. So then, you can do your best to improve your gut flora. The most important part of a healthy gut flora is your diet. Furthermore, your diet can both introduce beneficial bacteria to the gut and reduce the number of harmful microbes. Besides, what you eat is what your gut microbes eat essentially.
It might not surprise you that things like red meat, sugar and highly processed foods increase the amount of harmful or undesirable microbes. In contrast, vegetables, fibre and slowly digesting carbohydrates like tubers and whole wheat tend to feed the beneficial microbes.
The Mediterranien Diet
So something resembling the Mediterranean diet is likely very beneficial for your gut flora. This might help to explain the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet for seniors. But, dairy is a bit of a mixed topic as regular milk, especially total fat seems to have some adverse effects while yoghurt and other forms of cultured dairy products are actually one of the best sources of beneficial microbes.
Gut Health for Older Adults. The most astonishing discovery is that the gut is actually connected to the brain through several mechanisms. The intestines communicate with the brain through the vagus nerve. The microbes also form neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine and several other chemicals that affect your brain function. So keeping your gut healthy likely helps with keeping your brain healthy!
Fermented Foods for a Healthy Gut
Try these 7 probiotic-rich, fermented foods for gut health. The good bacteria may improve digestion, boost immunity, promote a healthy weight and more. Read on to learn the best-fermented foods for a healthier gut.
Sauerkraut is good for more than just topping a hot dog. Made from just cabbage and salt, this fermented food delivers a healthy dose of probiotics and fibre. You can make your own or buy sauerkraut at the store. The kind sold in the refrigerated section will have more probiotics than shelf-stable canned or jarred varieties.
Recipe to Try: Simple Sauerkraut
This spicy Korean side dish made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables is touted as having anticancer properties and other health benefits. We also know the probiotics found in kimchi are good for our gut health. Look for it in the refrigerated section near pickles and sauerkraut. Eat it on its own or try it as a burger topper or atop tacos.
Recipe to Try: Homemade Kimchi
A fermented milk drink similar to drinkable yogurt, kefir is full of calcium and probiotics. Like yoghurt, the probiotics in kefir help break down lactose, so it may be easier to digest for people with lactose intolerance. Kefir is delicious in smoothies or by itself.
Recipe to Try: Berry-Mint Kefir Smoothie
Kombucha is a tangy, effervescent, fermented tea that’s rich in good-for-you yeast and bacteria. The tea is often flavoured with herbs or fruit. You can find kombucha in natural foods stores, farmers’ markets and your regular grocery store. A tiny amount of alcohol is sometimes produced during fermentation—usually less than 0.5 per cent alcohol by volume (although some have been found to have closer to 2-3 per cent). If you’re not into the sour taste, you may not have found the right brand or flavour.
Recipe to Try: Lemon-Ginger Kombucha Cocktail
A fermented paste made from barley, rice or soybeans, miso adds a nice umami flavour to dishes. It’s a bold taste, so a little goes a long way (which is good because it’s also high in sodium). Miso is typically found in soups, making salad dressings and marinades even more delicious and gut-healthy.
Recipe to Try: Miso Vegetable Soup
Tempeh is made from naturally fermented soybeans. It’s similar to tofu because it’s a plant-based protein made from soy, but tempeh is fermented. It also has a firmer texture and a slightly nuttier flavour profile. It’s a good source of probiotics because it contains all the essential amino acids and is a complete vegetarian protein source.
Recipe to Try: Gochujang-Glazed Tempeh & Brown Rice Bowls
How Yoghurt is made is by fermenting milk. Yoghurt labelled with the “Live & Active Cultures” seal guarantees 100 million probiotic cultures per gram (about 17 billion cultures in a 6-ounce cup). However, even yoghurts without this seal contain probiotics. The probiotics in yoghurt help digest some of the lactose (milk sugar), so if you’re lactose intolerant, you may be able to enjoy yoghurt. Plus, many companies are now making dairy-free and vegan yoghurt options that contain probiotics.
Recipe to Try: Ricotta & Yogurt Parfait
The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
Cultures around the world have traditionally been eating fermented foods for centuries. Also, from Sauerkraut in Germany to Kimchi in Korea, fermented foods have been a staple of traditional eating. sadly, modern food preparation and eating habits have caused us to abandon fermented foods. As a result of this and the over-use of antibiotics, our health is suffering. I think it’s time we revive the tradition of eating fermented foods so you can take advantage of the countless health benefits:
We need healthy bacteria to digest food properly and absorb nutrients. Unfortunately, many of us are deficient in healthy bacteria thanks to antibiotics, pesticides, chlorinated water, and our eating patterns.
Eating fermented foods can help replenish the beneficial bacteria and even fight off pathogenic (harmful) bacteria in your gut. In addition, probiotics have also been shown to bolster your immune system, and cure psoriasis & chronic fatigue syndrome. Furthermore, improve your digestion.
Looking after your gut health by consuming fermented foods could be a game-changer for you, with increased digestive health, overall health and relief from some of the annoying bits of growing older. So then, the ability to improve your gut by eating these probiotic foods, and the effects they can make your brain health and life, in general, is well worth trying.
Important Note *
Remember that everyone is different, and it is ultimately YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to find what your body responds to. So please do your due diligence before trying anything new, including getting Medical Advice to ensure your safety and peace of mind.
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