Stop scrolling all those blogs about better gut health!
This is my best gut health advice, the one thing you need to do to get better digestion.
If you’re looking to improve your gut health my number one tip is to eat more variety.
Specifically, we need to aim to eat 30 different plant based foods a week.
If this sounds too difficult for you please keep reading, because I want to show you how it’s possible. And it can even be enjoyable!
If you have IBS and can’t see how on earth this might work for you then you might need some personalised support – check out my 1:1 consultations for what this includes.
Where does Aim for 30 plants come from?
In 2018 the American Gut Microbiome Study looked at the gut microbes in over 20000 participants. Researchers found those people who ate 30 (or more) different types of plant-based foods per week had a more diverse microbiome than those who ate less than 10.
Another key finding from this study was being vegan wasn’t indicative of being healthier. They saw that having a more varied diet was the thing that linked to better gut health than being vegan or plant based.
So, this means you can be vegan, but eat the same 15 foods on repeat. I definitely have had clients who followed this pattern. Through changing their style of eating we had major improvements in their digestive issues.
When we look at gut health, being vegan doesn’t always equate to healthy. Eating a range of plant based foods, and also eating animal products could be just as healthy, it’s all about the diversity of plants in your diet.
How does diet variety influence gut health?
We know that a more diverse microbiome is associated with better health. This is because eating a broad and balanced diet gives us
- More chance to get all the minerals and vitamins we need – (eating just apples and bananas isn’t going to hit the same nutrient intake as if you eat 10 different types of fruit through the week)
- Diverse types of fibre for your gut microbes – some fibres ferment in the large intestine feeding the gut bacteria, and the more variety we can introduce to these bugs means the more variety in gut microbes we will encourage.
- Variety can make eating plants more interesting – you might find you want to eat more plants if you branch out from your standard peas, carrots and broccoli.
Gut microbes love to eat fermentable fibre from our diet. When they encounter fibre, our gut bacteria create Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs). Some SCFAs also have anti-inflammatory properties and can positively impact the way you handle insulin sensitivity which could lead to better blood sugar balancing.
The beneficial bacteria also lower the pH in the gut which helps nutrient absorption (e.g. iron). Basically the more fibre you eat, the more helpful bacterial you encourage.
How to eat 30 plants a week – my best gut health advice
You might be relieved know the Aim for 30 target counts all foods made from plants. This includes categories such as:
- Grains – oats, rice, wheat, rye (bread and pasta count as one portion per week)
- Nuts & Seeds
- Pulses and beans
In my Aim for 30 programme I teach you how to count portions of these foods, and also give you different ways to increase your plant based foods. You’ll also get a set of vegetable rich dishes to help get you started.
Simple swaps to increase diet diversity
Changing your diet and adding diversity doesn’t have to be too time consuming or expensive.
The reason that Aim for 30 is my best gut health advice is this can be super easy to implement. There are some simple swaps you can make to help feed your gut bacteria and Aim for 30.
- Swap out white onions for red – these have different nutrient content and you probably won’t notice the difference.
- Eat a different grain with your curry or stir fry (swap rice for quinoa, or bulgar)
- Add a piece of fruit to your lunches – most of my clients aren’t eating enough fruit, aim for 2-3 portions per day.
- Add one extra vegetable to your plate every time you eat. This can include frozen vegetables, or a bit of salad.
- Shop for new veg you haven’t yet eaten – can you create a new meal around aubergine, okra, beetroot or celeriac?
- Keep some ready cooked mixed grains in the cupboard ready to add to a salad
- Try a smoothie and hide some vegetable or fruit you’re not sure about eating, it could hide the taste!
- Add different nuts and seeds to your diet as a great snack which provides protein and healthy fats as well as that all important fibre.
Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritional Therapist.
I can help you to:
- understand your digestion better, so you recognise your triggers
- eat a well balanced diet, with tasty meals that are simple to prepare
- develop better digestion and more energy
Find more about my 3 month 1:1 Gut Reset programme
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