Plant-Based Diets And Your Gut Microbiome
Mar 17, 2023
Plant-based diets are growing in popularity more than any other food or health trend. Supermarkets have more plant-based products on their shelves than ever before and new products are entering the market all the time. Even dining out has become a dream for vegetarians and vegans with so many vegetarian options to choose from.
It truly is the golden age for the plant-based eater, but what does this mean for our gut microbiome?
In this article, we explore the benefits and drawbacks of eating a plant-based diet, and we listen to what science has to say about it. This isn’t about converting you to become a vegan, or to adopt a diet that excludes animal products. Instead, we aim to highlight the benefits of eating more fruit and vegetables for the sake of your gut.
What is your gut microbiome?
Your gut microbiome is the ecosystem of bacteria that lives in your gut. Believe it or not, the number of bacteria cells inside your body outnumbers human cells considerably, and most of them live in your gut.
Don’t let that scare you, we need them as much as they need us. They help our bodies perform important functions like digesting food, training our immune system, and eliminating toxins. In return, we provide them with the energy they get from our food.
Your gut microbiome is considered your second brain because of the vast neurological network that exists there. Your gut is responsible for more than 90% of your serotonin production, and it also influences several other physical and psychological functions. That’s why taking care of your gut health is so important.
What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet is one that either only includes, or predominantly includes vegetables, fruit and other ingredients that derive from plants like legumes, seeds, and nuts.
In today’s market, there are vast plant-based products that provide an alternative to meat. They are often referred to as “meat substitutes”. Many consider them to be very similar to and just as nice as meat products, but avid meat eaters vehemently disagree.
Common meat substitutes include soya, jackfruit, tempeh, and tofu, but they also include products that use lentils, beans, mushrooms, and peas to make things like burgers, minced products, and even sausage substitutes.
While they do not have the same texture as meat, nor the rich flavour that comes from the natural fats present in meat, the texture and flavour has improved vastly over the last few years.
Meat substitutes, like meat, are a matter of preference. Eating too much of either is probably not good for you, but in moderation, both are fine. Something that is often overlooked by those that lean towards a plant-based diet, is that plant-based meat substitutes are still processed foods, so are not as healthy as eating regular vegetables.
If improving your health is part of the reason that you are focusing on a plant-based diet, then it is best to limit your consumption of processed foods.
How a plant-based diet impacts your gut
The scientific literature confirms that vegetarian and vegan diets promote a diverse ecosystem of beneficial bacteria that supports gut microbiome and indeed overall health.
The studies show clear differences in the microbiota composition between those that eat a vegetarian diet compared to omnivores, with vegetarians and vegans having more diverse and more stable microbial systems. Fibre, which is exclusively found in plants, has particular benefits of anti-pathogenic and anti-inflammatory effects and protects your cardiovascular system. In addition, fibre encourages the growth of species that ferment fibres into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which provide further immunity support and also optimise the health of your colon and intestines. Not bad, eh?
How a plant-based diet impacts your health
The American Dietetic Association published a research paper outlining their position on vegetarian and vegan diets. It said that properly planned vegetarian and vegan diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may even provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.
That is a pretty big deal. Further studies say that a third of early deaths could be prevented by switching to a vegetarian-based diet. One particular study highlights that vegetarians have 32% fewer admissions into hospitals for heart disease compared with meat eaters. It is relevant to note that heart disease is the single biggest killer in developed countries, so this simple lifestyle change can have huge implications on your health and longevity.
Other ways to improve your gut health
JUVIA is a supplement that aids your digestion and improves your overall gut health. It does this by breaking down the carbohydrates before they get to your gut. This is important if you are someone that has difficulty digesting certain types of food and has uncomfortable symptoms.
Also, the harmful bacteria in your gut rely on carbohydrates as their food source, which is no longer available once JUVIA breaks them down. This allows your friendly bacteria to colonise and dominate your gut microbiome, which improves overall gut health, and indeed overall health.
Your gut health is very important. Eating a plant-based diet has very clear benefits for your gut and overall health, so it is worth including as much fruit and vegetables in your diet as possible.
Remember, planning is key, so make sure you get ahead with a good meal plan that follows your favourite vegetarian recipes and remembers to introduce as much variety as possible. It is helpful to use the colours of fruit and veg as a guide to ensure you are getting enough variety.
Also, keep processed meals down to a minimum, whether they are plant-based or not, they are not the healthiest of options.
Finally, include JUVIA in your daily routine. It will make the world of difference to your gut health and you will be able to enjoy your favourite foods without the undesirable consequences.