Probiotics and prebiotics could be key to helping with health conditions associated with the menopause
Scientists and, of course, women themselves, have long been aware that menopause is associated with changes to their weight during the menopause years, with many struggling to maintain a healthy weight despite dietary and lifestyle changes. It’s also known that during this life phase, changes to the gut and vaginal microbiota, an increased risk of osteoporosis, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and periodontal issues, are all potential health issues.
Researchers have suggested this opens up the possibility that probiotics and prebiotics (essentially food for the gut microbiome) may help address some of these health issues. There is evidence that they may help improve calcium absorption, reduce gum disease, and positively affect cardiometabolic risk factors, including obesity and inflammation, plus blood glucose and lipid metabolism. It has been recently discovered that falling oestrogen levels during menopause also affect a woman’s ability to balance blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Probiotics are found in a variety of fermented foods including miso and natural yoghurt and prebiotics are found in all colourful fruits and vegetables. A breakfast of natural yoghurt and berries never looked so good!
Quercetin shows promise for longevity
Quercetin, a natural polyphenol compound found in apples, onions, broccoli, and cherries appears to positively influence chronologically ageing cells, potentially improving longevity outcomes. It also reduces risk of frailty, according to recent research.
Quercetin is a flavanol which has powerful antioxidant qualities and has long-been researched for its benefits for many aspects of health. For each 10 mg increase intake of flavonoids per day, the risk of frailty is reduced by 2 percent. Quercetin is just one of many thousands of botanicals which have a positive effect on health. Whilst the body has its own antioxidant systems, it needs a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and botanicals to support these systems and protect the body from free radical damage.
The research was carried out using a supplement containing quercetin, but there are many benefits to eating foods containing quercetin within the diet, regularly too such as those listed above.
Ultra-processed food increases risk of coronary artery disease
As intake of ultra-processed foods increases, so does research into the potential longer term health risks of their consumption. A recent case-controlled study by researchers in Iran found a higher incidence of premature coronary artery disease (PCAD), or having severe PCAD, in Iranian adults. Dietary intake was assessed using a validated 110-item food frequency questionnaire and foods were classified based on the NOVA system, which groups all foods according to the nature, extent, and purposes of the industrial processes they undergo.
Coronary artery disease is a common heart condition where essentially, the arteries become blocked with plaque build-up. The arteries then struggle to send enough blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the heart muscle.
Ultra-processed foods include ham, sausages, mass-produced bread, some breakfast cereals, biscuits, crisps, ice cream and carbonated drinks. Indeed, foods widely consumed in the typical western diet. A diet high in fruits and vegetables, containing plenty of antioxidants is known to be protective of cardiovascular disease, since they help prevent plaque build-up.
 Barrea L et al. Probiotics and Prebioitics: Any role in menopause-related diseases? Curr Nutr Rep 2023 Feb 7
 Francesco Abbiati et al. Sir2 and glycerol underlie the pro-longevity effect of quercetin during yeast chronological aging. Int J Mol Sci 2023 Jul 31; 24(15):12223.
 Shakila A et al. The relationship between ultra processed food consumption and premature coronary artery disease: Iran premature coronary artery disease study (IPAD). Fron Nutr 2023 Jun 30:10:1145762