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Make Fermented Foods Part of Your Healthy Aging Plan

September 30th, 2014

Friendly bacteria in fermented foods can help improve digestive health and metabolism at any age.

If you’re like most men, building lean muscle while keeping fat at bay will become harder and harder as you age. In large part, this has to do with hormonal changes associated with andropause. Correcting low testosterone and other hormonal imbalances will go a long way towards improving your physique as well as your mood, mental sharpness, and energy level. However, it’s important to support any male hormone treatment with a healthy diet and exercise plan. Fermented foods have many benefits for the digestive system and the metabolism and make an excellent addition to your diet whether or not you are pursuing hormone replacement therapy.

What is a Fermented Food?

A fermented food is anything that has been preserved through the process of fermentation. Basically what happens is natural bacteria feed on the sugars in the food, producing lactic acid, alcohol, and other compounds that naturally help to preserve the food. Fermentation was actually one of mankind’s earliest ways of preserving food, and when it comes to your health this more natural approach is much better than modern means of preserving food with artificial preservatives.

What’s So Great About Fermented Foods?

When you eat a fermented food, it’s kind of like eating a food that’s already been partially pre-digested. The food will be easier for your digestive system to handle and the nutrients will be easier to absorb. Research suggests that by boosting your digestive health, fermented foods can also boost your immune system. You may experience a reduction in inflammation, allergies, and illness. One published study from the International Journal of Obesity even showed that fermented foods can promote weight loss. However, this application needs more research, largely due to the fact that there are so many different bacteria in different fermented foods and different strains may have different effects on your weight.

Incorporating Fermented Foods into Your Diet

There are plenty of simple ways to add fermented foods to your diet:

  • Eat fresh sourdough bread instead of regular bread
  • Turn to yogurt for your calcium instead of milk
  • If you are lactose intolerant try coconut “yogurt”
  • Eat more pickled beets, cabbage (sauerkraut & kimchi), cucumbers, onions, etc.
  • Add miso to all your soup bases
  • Use naturally fermented condiments like soy sauce
  • Drink red wine
  • Try kombucha, a fermented tea
  • Try tempeh (fermented soybeans) for a high-protein fermented food

When choosing fermented foods, remember that the food needs to contain live probiotic cultures in order to be effective. Many shelf-stable pickled foods have been pasteurized which kills the bacteria, but you can often find naturally fermented pickles in the natural foods section in a refrigerated case. You can also make your own fermented pickles and condiments for an option that delivers the benefits of fermentation without the high sodium or sugar that sometimes comes with commercial products.

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