Researchers working on the American Gut Project found a number of health benefits associated with eating 30 plant foods per week. Compared to those who consumed 10 or less, people who consumed 30 or more had much more diversity in their gut microbiome.
They also showed an increase in the number of bacteria which produce compounds called short-chain fatty acids. These short-chain fatty acids are good for the cells in our digestive tract and can help to prevent cancer risk.
Those who consumed 30 plant foods per week or more also had lower levels of antibiotic resistance.
Why does a diverse gut microbiome matter?
While it is not fully understood, current evidence suggests that a diverse gut microbiome results in better health overall. This is because the different microbes (microorganisms such as bacteria) living in our gut play different roles in our health.
For example, we require different types of microbes to be able to fully digest the different foods that we consume. When we eat fibre, it isn’t fully digested in the stomach. Instead, it feeds our gut microbes, which then produce short-chain fatty acids. They help to keep the cells in the digestive tract healthy, reducing our cancer risk. If we increase the diversity of the plant foods we’re eating, it will help to increase our fibre intake.
Antibiotic resistance is a problem that many people are talking about. It describes the inability of antibiotics to kill certain types of bacteria, which become ‘resistant’ to the drugs. This can become a problem when one of our normally-friendly microbes get out of control or finds itself in the wrong place. The American Gut Project showed that eating a greater variety of plants foods reduced the amount of antibiotic resistance in our guts, which is a win for us!
What does 30 plant foods per week mean for me?
Not only can adding a wider variety of plant foods to your diet be good for your overall health, it can also keep your gut microbiome healthy. Our gut microbiomes play an important role in many aspects of our lives, including areas of mental health. We should be aiming to keep our gut microbiomes healthy for our overall well-being, especially if it’s as simple as increasing the number of plant foods we eat each week. Why not give it a go?
If you would like to find out more about your gut microbiome, find out which probiotics are good for you, or follow me on Instagram! Or, if you are looking for some individual advice, book a session with myself or one of my team over at Verde Nutrition Co!