Plant power: five ways to improve your gut health by eating more plants.

There is no question that what we eat can impact our overall health, but our food can also affect the health of the trillions of beneficial bacteria living in our gut – also known as our microbiome.

Microbiome plays a key role in our health and its diversity provides a multitude of benefits, associated with reducing obesity, depression, cancer, and dementia.

But with hundreds of products now lining the supermarket shelves touting benefits on ‘gut health’, the question remains: what should we really be eating to feed our microbiome?

Here Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital dietitian nutritionist Rhiannon Young unpacks what you need to know, and the simple answer is, a variety of plant foods!

“Research suggests eating up to 30 different plant foods per week (when compared to 10 a week) can increase the amount of diversity in the gut microbiome – with this diversity being linked to positive health outcomes,” she said.

“While 30 different plant foods might sound like a lot, the average person is likely already eating 10-15 different plant foods in a week – meaning you only have to increase it by another 15 to give your gut the benefits.”

And if you’re stuck for how you can bump up your number, here are Rhiannon’s tips on how to increase the variety of plant foods you’re getting each week:

  1. Swapping your single frozen vegetables for a mixed variety such as swapping frozen peas for frozen peas, carrots and corn.
  2. Swapping a single fruit for a mixed fruit, like frozen blueberries to frozen mixed berries, or opting for canned fruit salad (pears, pineapple and peaches) in juice.
  3. Introducing a 4-bean mix into your diet – great in salads, as a side or in a wrap.
  4. Snacking on some mixed nuts throughout the day
  5. Swapping your white bread/crackers to a grainy option.
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