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Carrying a little human for 9 months in your belly takes a lot from you, and the recovery period after childbirth is extremely important. Which is why you need the best food for confinement to get back on track. A good confinement diet does not only improve your health. It also aids in recovery, promotes healing, and boosts strength. It gives you what your body requires and helps you get the energy you need to balance your life and your baby’s.
We all know that a diet rich in fibre, antioxidants and has good fats promotes a healthy gut microbiome. Now, it may come to a surprise that a certain type of food that is not commonly associated with postnatal diet is fermented food. The reason for this is because fermented foods are rich in probiotics which is essential for good health. Fermented food may sound scary and unfamiliar, but they are actually quite prevalent in what is available in the market today.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are good live bacteria that live in the body – in the gut, mouth, skin, and urinary tract, to name a few. Not only do probiotics play a key role in those areas, they are also crucial for our immune system and our overall well-being. They help to maintain the health of our bodies where there are good (symbiotic) and bad (pathogenic) microorganisms which include (but are not limited to) bacteria, fungi, and viruses. A healthy body functions well when there is a balance between the good and bad microbes.
We can get our source of probiotics from food and supplements, ideally the former. This is due to the fact that food provides other nutrients necessary for the body, whereas supplements cannot fully replicate the goodness that comes from natural food like prebiotics and biogenic material. Supplements can still come in handy to replenish the gut with good bacteria after one completes an antibiotic course prescribed by the doctor.
What are the benefits of having fermented food part of a healthy diet? And why are they especially important during postpartum?
Postpartum depression and anxiety is real and it happens pretty commonly. Latest researches are finding how dietary patterns may play a huge role in reducing this risk. This is where fermented food may also come into play because of how rich they are in pre and probiotics. Including them in your diet will increase the amount of good bacteria in your gut. Mental health like depression and anxiety are often associated with gut problems, which suggest that there may be a connection between mental health and gut function. Although there is limited research, some researchers theorize that fermented foods may potentially help with mental health, especially those with depression or anxiety.
Besides that, there is also another study that found fermented foods like fermented milk helped to reduce minor abdominal discomfort after 4 weeks of consumption. This means consumption of fermented food has the potential to aid in digestion and a healthier bowel system. This is another good news for mothers especially in those who may have any minor gastro discomfort.
Interestingly, a very recent study in 2020 has found that traditional fermented foods products like kefir and yogurt may protect mothers against lactational mastitis! It’s only been one study so far and many more studies should be done to understand this potential. It certainly looks promising and it’s definitely another good reason to have fermented foods often during postpartum, especially since there is a growing number of breastfeeding campaigns in the world not only in rural areas but in urban populations as well.
This goes to show how much potential fermented food can play a part in a healthy diet of mothers.
What food is good for postpartum?
So, we already know how beneficial fermented food is to new mothers during postpartum. The next thing to know is what food falls under this category. Here are a few popular selections that you can either include in your meals or have as it is.
Yoghurt is a dairy product made by bacterial fermentation of milk that is all the rage now as it is easy to prepare and be included in any diet. In addition to enhancing gut health, it may contribute to stronger bones and teeth from its protein and calcium content.
ii. Cultured/Fermented milk
Cultured milk is another dairy product fermented or digested by bacteria. Fermented milk has shown to have a relatively positive effect on a breastfeeding mother’s immune response plus a decrease in cytokines (small proteins) that promote inflammation found in breast milk. Not only that, the baby actually benefits from this in terms of gastrointestinal health and an increase in natural killer cells which have a vital role in fighting viruses.
A traditional Korean staple, kimchi is a fermented dish usually made with vegetables, cabbage being the most commonly available here. Other than having a high probiotic content, it is low in fats and high in fiber too. How it is prepared is by fermenting and salting it with a combination of seasonings that include garlic, ginger, Korean red chilli flakes (gochugaru), and some form of salted seafood (jeotgal). What’s great about kimchi is that it has a long shelf life. So, it can be eaten right away or stored in the refrigerator for a few months, fermenting it even longer and bringing out the sourness.
Looking for what food is good for confinement? Having nourishing and wholesome food after childbirth is a game-changer. And this is what Tian Wei Signature aims to bring to the table – the best food for confinement – because you are what you eat and the confinement period is the time to pamper and indulge your body with fresh, nutritious, and delicious food. Remember, your baby will also reap all the benefits from your diet while you are breastfeeding, so you should take extra care for yourself and your child.