Gut Microbiome

We’ve talked about diet quite a bit recently on this forum, so I apologise for bringing it up again but there’s a lot of information being passed on to consumers (and patients) re: improving our gut microbiome and how we should aim to eat 30 different plant based food items p/week for various reasons. Reasons include: the impact on the environment, our intestinal health, to improve our immune system, reduce inflammation and for the prevention of diseases - e.g. gastrointestinal diseases, cardiovascular diseases, liver diseases, auto-immune diseases to name a few.

There’s also been tons of information about fermented foods - kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir etc.   I’m on the fence about kimchi, but have replaced my usual yoghurt for a kefir based one and am trialling a selection of seeds.

Have any of you responded to this information and changed your diet to include more plants, seeds, fermented foods? Have you seen any improvement in your blood tests or gut health?  Have you felt the benefit in other ways or do you think it’s hype and yet another food / health fad?


17 Comments

foods to heal the gut

by new to pace.... - 2024-04-03 08:48:13

I had been told by my cardiologist in the beginning to avoid fermented foods.  I think it might be the high amount of salt.  Needless to say have continued eating just look for the least amount of salt in the package.

Of course one should eat different  foods, at least every 4 days.  I feel ok with my diet. Are the doctors please with my choices, problably not.  But it is my gut and not theirs.

new to pace

I think a wholesome, well balanced diet is safest

by Gemita - 2024-04-03 10:26:34

Penguin I think rather than trying to look at specific foods, I would say apart from avoiding all processed, over-refined foods that are tasteless and unhealthy, just eat a balanced varied diet of wholesome, fibre rich foods, as well as healthy fats such as avocados, nuts and olive oil to maintain good gut health.  Get plenty of fruits and vegetables, protein from a variety of different sources, especially from fatty fish but don’t avoid meat entirely since it contains vital B vitamins, iron, zinc that are essential too. 

Red meat is rich in niacin, vitamin B12, riboflavin, thiamine, iron, and minerals like zinc and phosphorus. Vitamin B12 aids proper nerve health and ensures that the red blood cells function properly while zinc is responsible for strengthening our immune system.  Good amounts of B12 is mainly obtained in foods of animal origin:  fish, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.  Plant foods do not naturally contain Vitamin B12.  White meat contains fewer nutrients in comparison to red meat. Fish contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which help in improving lipid profiles and prevent cardiovascular diseases.

So my "gut" feeling is that a varied diet is the healthiest and safest way to get all the nutrients we need. Try using smaller quantities of meat and replacing some of the meat with vegetables, pulses and starchy foods in dishes such as stews, curries and casseroles.  

As we age we become less able to convert the protein we eat into muscle. Older adults need to eat more protein-rich foods to help preserve muscle mass especially when losing weight or dealing with a chronic or acute illness.  This is what we have been told at least.  During these stressful periods, aging bodies process protein less efficiently and need more of it to maintain muscle mass and strength, bone health and other essential physiological functions.  We have been told to eat fewer carbohydrates and more protein to stay well.

Tyramine rich foods are a no go area for me.  Tyramine is an amino acid commonly found in a variety of different foods and high amounts are known to elevate blood pressure levels. There have been a few case reports showing a link with tyramine triggering Atrial Fibrillation, and that eliminating tyramine-containing foods could improve or prevent this.   I cannot for example eat aged cheeses such as cheddar and parmesan, sauerkraut and kimchi, overripe bananas/avocados, pineapple, Sourdough bread, in fact any foods containing high levels of tyramine, without suffering the consequences - Atrial Fibrillation!

Trialling a Vegan Diet

by SeenBetterDays - 2024-04-03 10:46:35

Hi Penguin

Whilst I don't think diet determines our health outcomes I certainly believe it plays an important role.  I think it's essential to provide our body with the correct fuel if we want it to function optimally. 

I have recently seen some research which suggests that animal products may have an inflammatory effect on the body.  I have decided to move to a plant based diet for twelve months and see whether there are any obvious positive impacts on my health.  I am only a month in so will let you know when I am further along in the process and have more to report.

It is increasingly difficult to know what is considered a "healthy diet" with a huge amount of often confusing and in many cases conflicting advice.  For example, my brother is thriving on a ketogenic diet which is probably at the opposite end of the spectrum to my plant based experiment! I suspect the reality is there is no one size fits all diet and it will be a case of trial and error to find what works best for us as individuals.  I think we can safely assume though that a broad range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats are only going to be beneficial for the body - thirty different kinds would present most people with quite a challenge I would think!

I have tried some of the fermented food and struggled with it.  I am not keen on kimchi or sauerkraut but enjoy soya and coconut based kefir.  I have always struggled with bloating and stomach issues and do wonder if imbalances in gut bacteria may play a role but it is all guess work on my part so I hope that putting in the good stuff will pay off in the long term. Like you,  I would be interested to know other members' approach to diet and whether they have found particular success with specific strategies.  I am also interested in how closely our immune systems are linked to gut health and the strong gut brain connection. A fascinating topic Penguin, thanks for raising this.

New to Pace

by Penguin - 2024-04-03 15:52:13

It may be marketing (?) but I've read that everyone has unique reactions. This backs your own approach e.g. I know my own gut and what I will / won't react to.  

I would normally avoid supplements but I'm trying some 'friendly gut bacteria' atm (Inulin, Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium Bifidum and 'other friendly bacteria' ) as part of a powdered supplement to get me off the starting blocks.  Any thoughts? 

gut bacteria

by new to pace.... - 2024-04-03 16:00:39

I do not use those.  I unfortuantely have trouble with certain foods legumes, broccoli and any other foods that cause gas.  When eating those foods use "Beano".

Before really getting started you might check your vitamin levels, including iron and gluten.  I have used "gentle iron". 

new to pace

Newto Pace, Gemita & SeenBetterDays

by Penguin - 2024-04-03 16:10:22

NewtoPace - thank you for that. I have had recent blood tests.  What is Beano? 

Gemita - Yes, I agree with all that you say and am interested in what you say about Tyramine, which I knew nothing about.  So thank you for that snippet.  I agree about the importance of protein too.  After posting the Zoe articles on yr previous thread about statins, I read more and found so much info on gut bacteria on that site that I thought I'd raise it as a separate thread. 

Seen Better Days -  I too experience bloating. It can be quite extreme with certain foods and particularly if I eat them when stressed.  Similarly, flying, changes in diet on holiday, a slight reduction in hydration levels or decrease / increase in fibre and my gut stalls.  There has to be another way?  

The Zoe article referred to above makes some suggestions about how to include 30 different varieties of plant p/week. It sounds daunting doesn't it?  The article makes it feel a bit more manageable so I've provided a link below for you.  Coffee, dark chocolate, herbs and spices as well as legumes and whole grains were items I'd forgotten or not thought to count. 

https://zoe.com/learn/30-plants-per-week

It seems that 'Zoe' - an initiative by Doctors who designed the Covid App. during the pandemic - is now invested in by one of the 'Dragons' from Dragon's Den' - Steven Bartlett.  (I thought I detected a commercial bias!)

Beano

by new to pace.... - 2024-04-03 16:29:53

There are other products out there, but i like this one as i can chew it as i eat those foods.  On the box if says "contains a natural enzyme that helps digest gas-causing foods."  Mine contains Alpha-galactosidase enzyme 800 GALU, of course the other ingredients  which i seem to tolerate.

Medtech products, interesting it says made in Japan , dist. by Medtech Products Inc., Tarrytown, Ny.

new to pace

NTP

by Penguin - 2024-04-03 16:43:46

Found it! https://www.beanogas.com/anti-gas-pills/beano-tablets.  The UK version 'may' be a product called 'Buscopan'.  Never tried it. I think it's for IBS.  

 

That does look like it does the same thing

by new to pace.... - 2024-04-03 17:22:26

You might look at amazon.uk for beano

new to pace

30 different plant foods

by new to pace.... - 2024-04-03 20:34:10

Now it is easier than you think, with so many new options out there now.  Such as using nuts, hemp seeds, grains to make a milk substitue.  By putting in a blender with some water and herbs, spices to make a pudding, ice cream, soups, gravies.  For instance.  Or using veggies to make a gravy.  I use cooked legumes and put in food processor.  Then can make patties and add different veggies, bean loafs etc.

new to pace 

Agree NTP

by Penguin - 2024-04-04 05:10:20

NTP - Those are not things I've tried other than the gravies. You've obviously been doing this for a while.  I'd be interested in any tips?

I just totalled my plants up for a week and it comes to 38 different varieties without counting any food source more than once!! However, variety is still an issue on a daily basis as I eat the same thing everyday for breakfast and currently unch is a salad - only varying the protein source. I could do a lot better!  I'm not very imaginative with meat alternatives either - just Quorn - and I'm light on whole grains other than seeds because I'm keeping carbs fairly low and that's probably the fibre issue. I imagine that other people would bulk up their plant count by at least 7 plants if they're eating wholegrain versions of breads, pasta, rice, noodles etc. daily as these are not in my diet currently - only oats, seeds and legumes. 

It's quite a useful exercise to list everything you eat over a week, if you're trying to up the amount of plants you eat.  It's also easy to fool yourself that you're eating a varied diet - as I've just found! 

The second brain

by Gemita - 2024-04-04 06:15:17

SeenBetterDays, Penguin and New to Pace, now don’t get me started on the gut-brain connection for some of our heart/health difficulties particularly with the close proximity of the stomach/oesophagus to the heart.  I recall reading The Second Brain by Michael D Gershon many years ago. It was an eye opening, amusing read.  A few excerpts:

“There is a brain in the bowel that has a mind and a will of its own, that is more intellectual than the heart and may have a greater capacity for “feeling”.  It is the only organ that contains an intrinsic nervous system that is able to mediate reflexes in the complete absence of input from the brain or spinal cord.  The brain in the bowel has evolved in pace with the brain in the head.  There are more than a 100 million nerve cells in the human small intestine.  Add on the nerve cells of the oesophagus, stomach and large intestine and you will find that we have more nerve cells in our gut than in the entire remainder of our peripheral nervous system”.

Cures come when diseases are understood.  Malfunction of the enteric nervous system may be resistant to therapies aimed at the head, but therapies aimed at the gut (like a change in diet) just might work for the millions of us who suffer from “functional bowel disease”.  I see that 70% of the immune system is located in the gut which is why we need to look after it.

So Penguin, I think you have started an important discussion on the importance of understanding how our gut works and what to feed it.  I have tried many different diets over the years.  I was deficient in Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin C, Zinc, Selenium and B Vitamins at one time and correcting these deficiencies made a huge difference to my overall health.  What my body wants now is no fuss, simple, wholesome foods as nature intended.  My gut clearly doesn’t like too many supplements, including probiotics or prescribed medication and my gut certainly doesn’t like any of the meds available for functional bowel/oesophageal motility disorders

Gemita / RDAs (Recommended Daily Amounts) - Protein

by Penguin - 2024-04-04 06:44:51

I've probably been over invested in protein for a while now, and this podcast made me think twice. Worth a view - particularly for athletes who pump iron or want to build muscle, and more generally for anyone interested in how Recommended Daily Amounts of foodstuffs are calculated by the people who advise us : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMwf_9wqWY0

Gemita - I knew a bit about the gut and nerve cells within it before.  So many medications cause constipation or affect bowel motility. How that then messes up what we eat / absorb is important to me. That book sounds like an eye opening read and I'd like to read it.  

tips

by new to pace.... - 2024-04-04 09:02:21

While looking at certain foods makes you want to eat or not. When making your salad cut your veggies into different shapes.  Instead of cutting carrots in rounds.  Cut on the diaginol, grate or using your peeler into curls.  Use your lettuce leave as a wrap and put your veggies in making sure to fold the bottom so they do not fall out.  Heat to soften cabbage and kale to make a wrap also.  Marinate your veggies overnite and put into salad the next day including the marinate.

are some suggestions.

new to pace

some one else's diet

by new to pace.... - 2024-04-04 09:35:06

Everyone who has written a book about what has worked for them.  Has made money from that book/diet.  As Gemita and others have written everyone eats what works for them. 

When you have to add supplements since you have decided not to eat certain foods.  You are now eating chemicals, which i suspect are not good for us.

I think it is better to eat a  just a little of something to keep that vitamin or mineral in our diet, that is if you can.

To stay away from or eat just a tad of trigger foods.  Which i am trying to avoid those pesky A-fib episodes.

new to pace

Thank you NTP

by Penguin - 2024-04-04 11:01:05

Thank you very much for those tips NTP.  Using lettuce as a wrap and cutting vegetables to look enticing are great ideas. 

I agree about supplements. Desperation struck for me - usually I avoid and am planning to edit them out.   

The links that you and Gemita have found between A.Fib episodes and food are interesting. 

Really helpful. x

I'll share this snack recipe for Chilli Kale Chips.  I'm not keen on kale and took some persuading to try this, but it's v.quick to make and surprisingly delicious as a snack.  Texture wise it's a bit like the seaweed that Oriental restaurants serve, but with a chilli / paprika kick. 

https://michaelmosley.co.uk/recipes/chilli-kale-chips/

 

kale

by new to pace.... - 2024-04-04 13:05:38

Thanks for Kale chip recipe .  i do not like the texture of Kale so do not eat.

new to pace

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