How Your Diet Impacts Your Gut Health

How Your Diet Impacts Your Gut Health

What you eat plays a huge role in indicating what kind of microbes live in your gut and how diverse your gut microbiome could be. Because of this, your food preferences, the lifestyle choices you make, and other external factors like your genetics create a collection of bacteria in your gut microbiome that is truly unique to you! 

Why is it important to have a diversity of microbes in your gut?

According to the Havard School of Public Health, "your gut is a major site of immune activity and the production of antimicrobial proteins." Therefore, your diet is a major contributor to determine what kind of microbes live there. Researchers have found that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes supports the growth and maintenance of beneficial bacteria in our gut. These beneficial bacteria can also play key roles in how our bodies function like stimulate immune cell activity, reduce inflammation, and impact our overall mood. 

A registered dietician, Christina Brockett, goes into further detail about what kinds of diet can promote the production of beneficial bacteria in our gut. She compares the Western diet to a more traditional rural diet to show how our food preferences can affect the changes to our gut microbiome.

Video Transcript

Dietary intake is something a lot of people take for granted. In fact, those that consume the western diet, something that is very rich in refined carbohydrates, animal protein, saturated fat, and sugar tend to have more negative outcomes. Additionally, what they find is there is also a negative outcome on our gut microbiome.

Whereas, if you look at people that are consuming a diet high in plant-based proteins and materials, especially vegetables like your cruciferous vegetables or things rich in polyphenols like green tea or your berries, they tend to have healthier outcomes and a healthier gut microbiome.

What is really fascinating about this is that they have looked at people that consume a standard western diet against people that consume a more traditional rural intake. What they have found is those that who are consuming this traditional rural intake tend to be healthier. In fact, they don't have the disease states that people that are consuming the Western diet have. Food has an amazing ability to affect not only health outcomes, but the outcome of the gut microbiome.

So what do you need to eat to support a healthy gut microbiome and bacterial growth?

It's actually pretty simple. The first thing that you should focus on is your fruits. The next thing you can focus on is a variety of vegetables with an array and rainbow of color. Next, we've got a plant-based protein source, such as tofu or your beans, the other area of focus is polyphenols, such as those found in green tea or berries. The next area is focusing on unrefined versus refined grains such as those found in oats or those found in brown rice. All of these elements together can help support the growth and development of your microbiome. They've actually done studies when they've looked at people that increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and they start to see changes in their gut microbiome in as little as five days.

As you can see, everything you eat affects your gut microbiome. Now, think a moment about the diets that you may or may not have partaken in, those which might restrict one macronutrient, a protein, a fat, or a carbohydrate at the expense of another. I've got news for you. Those changes also affect the microbiome.  Additionally, what they have found is when people lose weight, that affects the microbiome. But what is even more important is whether or not someone is eating an abundance of things like your vegetables versus things like high levels of saturated fats. So it's not just what you eat, it is also the quantity of these elements that you eat that becomes the driver for a healthy gut microbiome.

This is where an at-home testing kit like Psomagen's GutBiome+ is incredibly useful. With the kit, you get a report that gives you insight into the foods you are eating and areas where you can improve. It also gives you insight into those macronutrients; the proteins, the fats, the carbohydrates. What you are really looking for then is to gain an understanding is how your particular diet is working for or against you on your health journey.