The 6 Cheap ‘Superfoods’ That Are Key to Flawless Skin, Weight Loss and Help Prevent Baldness

FERMENTED foods are the bees knees if you want to improve your gut health and digestion.

But did you know that these foods can also have other health benefits – from preventing baldness to making your skin glow?


Fermented vegetablesCredit: Getty

A study from South Korea has found that daily consumption of kimchi, a tub of which costs less than £5 in the supermarket and a few pennies to eat every day, can prevent weight gain.

The study of 115,726 people found that eating up to three servings of the Korean dish made from fermented vegetables per day can lower the risk of obesity in men, and eating kimchi made with radish is linked to smaller waistlines in both sexes.

There is growing evidence for the benefits of fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi.

These foods have undergone a fermentation process, which promotes the growth of probiotics, which can support your health.

Catherine Nash, a gastroenterological dietitian at Oxford Gastro Dietitians, says: “Your gut contains its own ecosystem with thousands of different types of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, yeasts and fungi.

“There is a huge pressure on gut health at the moment, and one of the ways to look after the gut is by encouraging the gut ecosystem – or biome – to be as diverse as possible.

“Eating fermented foods can help increase the diversity of the microbiota in your gut and if we nurture and care for our gut, this has the potential to create other positive effects in the body.”

So which foods can help?

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1. Kimchi – best for weight loss and preventing hair loss

Liv Morrison, clinical dietitian and nutritionist at health and wellness app Kic, says: “Kimchi is a traditional Korean fermented food, with a spicy and sour taste, usually consumed with meals.”

Here are 5 tips to keep your gut microbiome healthy

The ingredients can vary, but kimchi is usually made by salting and fermenting cabbage, radish or cucumber and also contains other ingredients such as garlic and onion.

“Because it’s a fermented food, it adds good bacteria to your gut. It contains fiber which is beneficial for building good bacteria and also contains important vitamins such as vitamins A and C,” says Catherine.

In addition to benefits for your gut and weight loss, kimchi has been found to thicken hair and even reverse the balding process.

A small 2019 study looked at men in the early stages of hair loss who consumed kimchi twice a day. After one month, the average number of hairs had increased from 85 per square centimeter to 90, and after four months to 92.

You can find kimchi in most supermarkets in the Asian section, including Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

Kimchi, a staple of the Korean diet


Kimchi, a staple of the Korean dietCredit: Alamy

2. Sauerkraut – best for digestion

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. While sauerkraut translates to pickled cabbage in German, the dish was first developed in China more than 2,000 years ago.

Like kimchi, sauerkraut contains probiotics that support digestion, as well as vitamins A and C.

Clinical studies have shown that sauerkraut can help improve symptoms for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Other studies have found evidence that probiotics in fermented foods such as sauerkraut appear to play a potential role in both the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

Liv says: “Both kimchi and sauerkraut are powerful anti-inflammatory foods, with human research showing that regular consumption has numerous health benefits.

“These include lowering cholesterol, body fat and blood sugars, preventing the development of several types of cancer, especially colon and breast cancer, preventing heart disease and blood vessel narrowing, and improving immunity and metabolic health.”

Sauerkraut is very easy to make at home with just three ingredients – cabbage, water and salt – and a pot.

You can then add the fermented cabbage to a ham sandwich, toss it into a salad or make a dip.

Or look for it in the supermarket (often it is labeled as Polish, Bavarian) or in a health food store.

Homemade sauerkraut - just cabbage in a pot


Homemade sauerkraut – just cabbage in a potCredit: Getty

3. Kefir – best for the skin

Kefir is a fermented drink made from milk and kefir grains – colonies of yeast – that looks and tastes like thin yogurt, but with extra spiciness.

It has become a staple in most milk refrigerators in supermarkets, but it is also made into yogurt. It usually contains flavorings, but you can also make it at home as long as you have the right kit.

Kefir is one of the most well-researched types of fermented foods with strong links to improved gut health and digestion.

Research has shown that drinking kefir can improve skin health by strengthening the skin barrier, including one study that found the homemade stuff improved atopic dermatitis (eczema).

Therefore, it could be a good choice for people with chronic skin conditions, as a compromised skin barrier also allows the worsening of skin conditions and allergies.

Meanwhile, high calcium levels in milk-based kefirs may contribute to healthy bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Kefir is strongest when made at home, but now there are brands sold in supermarkets to make it easier


Kefir is strongest when made at home, but now there are brands sold in supermarkets to make it easierCredit: Oliver Dixon

4. Natto and tempeh – best for bones

Liv says: “Natto is a traditional Japanese dish that is often eaten for breakfast or a snack, made from fermented whole soy beans.

“Because soybeans are quite bland in taste, the flavor of natto can vary depending on which spices you choose to use.”

When natto is served, it has a pungent odor and is sticky.

In addition to several vitamins and minerals, natto also contains a lot of dietary fiber, which means it is useful for digestion and relieving constipation.

Liv says: “Natto is rich in nutrients, especially rich in calcium, vitamin K, iron and potassium. These are great for lowering blood pressure, improving kidney and heart function, bone density and immunity.

Fiber is also beneficial for preventing colon cancer and heart disease, and can help control weight.

Japanese researchers recommended that menopausal women eat natto because it was most associated with reduced bone loss after studying middle-aged women.

Tempeh is also made with fermented soybeans. Originating from Indonesia, it resembles tofu and is often used as a high-protein alternative to meat.

Like natto, tempeh is high in fiber and can help improve gut health and cholesterol levels.

Tempeh pieces.  You can find the meat alternative in supermarkets


Tempeh pieces. You can find the meat alternative in supermarketsCredit: Getty – Contributor

5. Yogurt – best for mental health

Many people enjoy yogurt, which is made by fermenting milk, as part of a healthy diet, but they can also be beneficial for mental health.

Research has found that certain types of bacteria in yogurt may improve mood and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Liv says: “Probiotic foods that have been shown to provide mental health benefits are called psychobiotics.

“Well-researched, natural sources of psychobiotics include Greek yogurt, kefir, kimchi and tempeh.

“There are many strains of good bacteria that have been shown to influence mood through our immune system pathways.

“This is called microbiota-gut-brain signaling, which is a fancy term for the way our gut bacteria communicate with our brains to bring about physical changes.

“This area of ​​research is quite new, so it will be some time before we can prescribe specific bacterial strains for the treatment of mental illness.

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“Regardless, the research is promising and there’s no harm in adding naturally fermented foods now.”

To get the most out of yogurt, choose the natural kind, and not the sweet sugary stuff.

Yogurt for breakfast, anyone?


Yogurt for breakfast, anyone?Credit: Getty

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