What to eat for a healthy gut

The Hadza tribe of hunter-gatherers in Tanzania have the most diverse microbiota in the world today. Their ancient and largely unaltered diet comprises a huge range of foraged plant-based foods, with occasional helpings meat.  They regularly eat over 30 different types of plant each week, providing their microbiota with many different types of MACs and polyphenols.  After just 3 days of eating with the tribe, Prof Tim Spector’s microbiota had increased in detectable species by 20% (shown by stool sample analysis)!   Unfortunately, this change was not sustainable and within days of returning home it had returned to its former state. 12  

This has led researchers at King’s College London to propose that one of the best ways of improving your gut heath is to consistently eat an extremely varied diet, based on 30 different plant based foods a week. The reasons for this are that each of the maybe 400 different types of microbe in your microbiota have slightly different nutritional requirements which can be met by eating a vast range of foods all containing slightly different MACs and phytonutrients. This does not imply that you should become vegan or vegetarian;  neither dairy nor a modest amount of meat need to be excluded.

 

 

As unachievable as this may sound on paper, a 30-a-week plan does not require fixed portion sizes, and includes herbs, spices, seeds, nuts, pulses, whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Easy wins are buying ready mixed dried rice/grain mixtures for cooking, mixed bags of salad, and mixed nuts and seeds to sprinkle on top of things.

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