health

The Gut Diet.

There are more and more studies coming out that show that the vast and diverse microbiome present in our intestines affects our health and bodies in numerous ways. Google “microbiome and weight” and you will find plenty to start with, but they affect even more than weight. One particularly interesting one I found was that certain artificial sweeteners were found to trigger alterations in the gut microbiome increasing appetite and increasing fat storage – was the non-fat trend in the 90s which resulted in a spike in artificial sweeteners and strange additives a huge trigger for obesity because of it’s affect on our gut microbiome?

There are literally dozens of interesting journals/articles/research studies about gut microbiome that I came across just today. I think we will be seeing lots more treatments and studies with regards to this in the future. In the meantime, I found out in Menorca, Spain they have a “Gut Makeover Retreat” that costs thousands of dollars to help reset your gut from all the toxins it has been accumulating and help them regrow healthy, good bacteria. Reading into these makeovers, they can be simplified for [affordable] at-home use. The nutritionist behind this is Jeannette Hyde, and she summarized her diet for DailyMail as follows:

WEEKS ONE AND TWO

The focus is on building a wider array of bacteria. The key principles here are:

1. Plants: Try to get different plants (vegetables, herbs and fruits) into meals. Think a minimum of seven cups of plants — five as vegetables, two as fruit. Aim for 20 to 30 varieties a week — a shopping cart exploding with color and textures.

2. Buy the best protein you can afford (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds) to include at each meal. [Apurva advice: limit meat protein to once a day, max.]

3. Relax and chew properly: Try not to eat on the run or ‘al desko’.

4. Fast: Get into the habit of a 12-hour fast between dinner and breakfast. A long stretch without food improves the microbiome.

5. Avoid snacking. Have three meals a day.

WEEKS THREE AND FOUR

The second half of the plan is ‘planting season’, introducing the following into your gut:

1. Prebiotics: Increase your intake of prebiotic foods that contain fiber, which feeds bacteria in the gut and make friendly species bloom. These include: apples, asparagus, bananas, chicory root, cold potatoes (after cooking they form a fiber called resistant starch), fennel, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, onions, legumes (allowed if you are vegetarian to boost protein).

2. Probiotics: These contain friendly bacteria and include: kefir milk, Roquefort cheese, fermented live miso and fermented tempeh (both made from soy beans and found in Asian supermarkets; add miso, a paste, to stir-fries and soups, buy tempeh in blocks to add to stir-fries and salads).

JUST SAY NO TO…

Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, sweeteners, dairy (although in weeks three and four it is included in small amounts because foods such as fermented milk kefir can boost gut flora), grains (particularly gluten-containing wheat, rye and spelt), beans and legumes (they contain high levels of lectins which can cause bloating), and dried fruit (due to high fructose sugar).

KEEP OFF THE WEIGHT

When the month is up, transition to the maintenance stage, a gut-friendly version of the real Mediterranean diet: plants — vegetables, seasonal fruits and wild herbs — supplemented with fish, nuts and grains, extra virgin olive oil, artisan, slow-matured cheeses teeming with friendly bacteria, and moderate amounts of quality meat.

The diet in general is similar to your standard, but proven, plant-based, whole foods, Mediterranean diet that should be highly recommended right now by all nutritionists and physicians, but it kind of explains why from a gut-related perspective. So considering that my diet is kind of exactly the opposite – lots of snacking, dairy, sugar, caffeine, beans, grains, legumes, and occasional alcohol, I feel as though my gut is pretty unhappy. Last May I lasted 3 weeks of the month without any added sugars in my diet, and I felt great. I think even if you can make small changes towards a diet like this, you’ll feel better, but if you are willing to take the plunge and commit to this diet, I don’t think you’ll regret it. Happy gut, happy life!

More books to look into:

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