Between 1940 and 1966, the great featherweight boxing champion Willie Pep fought 241 bouts, winning 229. But after earning the title twice, Pep began to slow down. Even long-haulers aren’t immune to ageing. He described it like this, ‘First your legs go. Then you lose your reflexes. Then you lose your friends.’
Another thing to add to that list is muscle mass. On average, we lose as much as 5% of it per decade after hitting 30. As we age, it’s a problem that typically leads to diminished mobility and a heightened risk of falls, not to mention a knock to our ego. To keep muscle decline at arm’s length, it’s important to train consistently – and, it seems, to maintain a healthy gut microbiome, too.
The link between gut bacteria and good immunity, brain function and metabolism is well established. But papers published in journals such as Frontiers In Physiology and Nutrition And Metabolic Insights suggest that it’s essential to muscle growth and strength, too. Most recently, a rodent study by exercise physiologists at the University of Kentucky found that mice with their microbiome artificially depleted by antibiotics had significantly slower muscle growth than the control group.
In short, muscles really are built in the kitchen – at least, to a greater degree than you might have suspected. Conveniently, researchers at Stanford University have discovered that a 10-week diet that’s high in fermented foods boosts microbiome diversity. So, if you want to keep rolling with the punches for longer, wage some (good) germ warfare on ageing and make your gains last with these four fermented food swaps:
Make your gains last with these four fermented food swaps.
Swap Yoghurt with Kefir
A tangy Eastern European staple known to reduce inflammation. You can find it in most supermarkets.
Swap Green Beans with Natto
An acquired taste, these sticky soya beans pack in the vitamin K.
Swap Pickle with Kimchi
A cheese and kimchi sandwich is a classic combo – and the fermented Korean veg dish lowers insulin resistance.
Swap Ketchup with Miso
Serve white fish with this Japanese soya bean paste that has been linked to healthier blood pressure levels.
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