When your gut isn’t happy about what you ate for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it makes its feelings known. There’s an overwhelming amount of information out there about what to do—and what to avoid—to care for your digestive tract. But Tim Spector, MD, professor of genetic epidemiology at Kings College London and author of The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat, knows how to improve gut health naturally with a small but mighty tweak to your diet.
On a recent episode of the Deliciously Ella podcast, Dr. Spector points to a study a 2018 study published by the American Society for Microbiology. After looking at 11,000 people’s gut microbes and their corresponding eating questionnaires, the team of researchers learned an invaluable lesson about gut health. “It turned out that people who had the healthiest guts, which is generally the most diverse guts, were the people eating more than 30 different types of plant in a week,” says Dr. Spector.
At first blush, a triple-digit quantity of plants sounds like a lot, but Dr. Spector explains that it’s easier than you think. “People forget what a plant is. A plant can be a nut, a seed, a grain. It can be an herb, a spice. So it’s actually not that hard as long as you don’t have the same thing every day. That diversity was much more important than if you were vegan or vegetarian or meat-eater,” he says. So if you eat nut butter and whole grain toast for breakfast, followed by a salad at lunch, and some cauliflower pizza for dinner, you’ve checked off nearly a dozen of your vegetables in less than 24 hours.
The lesson here? If you’re new to the world of digestive health, focus on the diversity of the foods you eat. Your gut microbes will flourish and you’ll get to try every plant the supermarket has to offer.
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