What may come as a surprise is that the health of our gut not only relies on what foods we eat but the range of foods we consume, too. Specifically, it has been shown that individuals who have greater diversity in their diets have more varied gut bacteria, and ultimately a healthier gut microbiome as a result. Mixing up the plant foods we eat exposes the body to different mixes of dietary fibre and key nutrients, maximising the types and quantities of bacteria in the gut. Why does that matter? Essentially, the more diverse your microbes are, the more skills your microbes have, and the more they can look after you… think better immunity, blood sugar control and mental health, lower levels of inflammation and reduced risk of many diseases. When we think about achieving optimal diversity in our gut bacteria, 30 is considered the magic number!
The American Gut Project found significant health benefits associated with eating 30 different plant foods per week, compared to those who consumed 10 or fewer different plant foods per week. This means that if you reach for the same piece of fruit on your breakfast, a simple sandwich and meat and three veg each night, the chances are that you’re not even close to getting 30 plants in per week.
For many people, 30 might sound like a really big number to aim for, but vegetables and fruit aren’t the only contributors to ‘plant foods’. Whole grains, legumes (beans & pulses), nuts & seeds, herbs and spices all count towards your plant points. Here are some simple swaps you can make next time you do your shopping to up your plant points, boost your dietary diversity and get you closer to that magic 30. And if you’re sitting here reading this thinking, “but so many foods give me gut symptoms!” I promise it doesn’t need to be that way and that it is possible to get on top of your gut issues and reintroduce variety into your diet. To find out more about how I can help you - book in your free introductory call via my bookings page or complete my Contact Form.