Recently, more and more research is showing that having a healthy gut bacteria is key to overall health. A well-balanced microbiome can help with digestion, cholesterol levels, mental health, immune function and more.
It's clear that what you eat can directly affect your gut bacteria, but what is the best way to eat for a healthy gut? Researchers recently set out to answer this question.
In a study with 153 participants, 51 were vegan, 51 were vegetarian and 51 were omnivore. The study was conducted in Italy and used the Mediterranean diet as a standard of reference, defining a healthy diet as one that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
By examining the records of participants, 88% of vegans were found to adhere to the healthiest of eating patterns, 65% of vegetarians and 30% of omnivores. To determine gut health, researchers took samples of feces and urine and measured metabolites or byproducts of bacteria.
Those following a vegan diet had the highest levels of short chain fatty acids (SCFA), or beneficial gut bacteria metabolites, indicating that they had a healthier microbiome in their gut. On the flip side, those who adhered the least to the plant-based eating pattern tended to have higher levels of a toxin called Trimethylamineoxide (TMAO) in urine samples, indicating that the bacteria in their body may be producing harmful substances.
The main nutrient implicated in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is fiber, found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. One way to follow a high fiber diet is to eat mostly raw foods.
A raw food diet is arguably the most powerful plant based diet as it not only incorporates the principles of vegan eating, but also eliminates all processed foods, focusing on alive, vibrant and fresh natural produce.
Advocates of a raw food diet, such as myself, claim that eating foods in their most natural raw state ensures a multitude of vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, antioxidants and phytochemicals in your body for a happy heart and healthy mind.