I’m on a journey to guide women in understanding that their symptoms aren’t in their head, and more importantly, they aren’t their fault.
5 pillars of gut health
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Especially gut health. Every man and their dog has a potion, recipe, superfood, or supplement that they’re trying to recommend for optimal gut health. And the market has become saturated with “do’s” and “don’ts” as well as a multitude of tricks, tips, shortcuts, and hacks that most of us have adopted or tried out at one point or another in our journey to gut health.
But the problem is, 3/4 of these trends are more harmful than helpful, and 99% of them aren’t backed by any evidence at all.
Today, I wanted to discuss 5 “health” trends that have entered the market and sparked a trend, but are actually more harmful than helpful when it comes to bettering the health of your microbiome.
1. Bone Broth: Simply put, there is no evidence to support the fact that bone broth is healthful for the gut microbiome. In fact, all bone broth contains lead that surpasses safe limits. If you truly want to “heal leaky gut”, I recommend diversifying your diet and eating 30+ unique plant foods every week, which will feed the bacteria in your gut that create health promoting short chain fatty acids. Even veggie broth would work better, as its packed with minerals such as magnesium and calcium, unlike bone broth, which is low in most trace minerals. Read more here.
2. Bulletproof coffee: We know that saturated fat increases the number of pathogenic, disease promoting bacteria in the gut, so why are we adding one of the purest forms of saturated fat in the plant kingdom to our coffee every morning? Most of us are eating far too much fat, far too much oil, and we can get more than we’d ever need from whole plants instead. See references below (1).
3. Paleo diet: The paleo diet has seen quite a bit of press in the last half decade or so, but is it really that healthy? The part of the paleo diet that I like is that it’s whole food based. The part I don’t like is that it eliminates two of the healthiest food groups on the planet: grains and legumes (2), and includes ample amounts of one of the most inflammatory: meat. The paleo diet can actually create negative health outcomes in the gut when followed long term, as it limits soluble fibre, which is the single greatest prebiotic (feeds beneficial bacteria) on the planet. See reference below (3).
4. Juicing: Don’t get me wrong, I love cold pressed juice, but when it becomes a consistent habit and you rely on it for replacing meals, that’s when we start to see issues arise. The problem with homemade juice (or any juice for that matter) is that it has zero fibre. This means that when you make a juice filled with fruit, the effect on blood sugar can be detrimental. Fibre is what slows down the release of glucose (end product of all plant foods) into the blood. Without fibre, glucose is released rapidly into the blood stream, and then we see a spike followed by a sudden crash of blood sugar. This can contribute to inflammation over the long term, and can also contribute to an overgrowth of candida. Candida release over 50 kinds of toxins, and although they can live in the gut in harmony in normal amounts, when they overgrow, they can contribute to inflammation and intestinal permeability. In other words, the gut isn’t happy. I love recommending a 3 day juice cleanse to clients as a reset, but only when their blood sugar levels are stable, and only for those 3 days. It’s a better idea to eat your fruits and veggies whole! Fibre is what we want for optimal gut health, and we can’t get it from juice.
5. Gluten-free diets: Ah, gluten. Most of us have a love hate relationship with it. Love because most gluten containing products/foods we eat are highly indulgent and delicious, hate because we’ve been told that gluten is the devil. And for those who are celiac, it is. But we’re missing the mark here: gluten typically isn’t an issue, it’s the products and foods that we eat that contain gluten that are. Chemicals, preservatives, additives, colourings, hydrogenated oils, etc. are often all found in breads, pastas, crackers, and other gluten containing foods. Most of us aren’t eating whole rye berries, spelt berries, pearl barley, or wheat kernels. When we eliminate gluten, we eliminate a number of health promoting grains that could otherwise contribute to microbial diversity in the gut. And we know that a greater diversity of plants in the diet = greater diversity of microbes = greater overall health. Not to mention, long term whole grain restriction is associated with an increased risk of cancer. Read more here.
The bottom line is this: stick to whole foods, and lots of them. Diversify the number of plants you’re eating, and always question the WHY behind a health trend and what evidence exists to back it up.
With love and gut health,
(1) Pedersen et al., “The Effect of High-Fat Diet on the Composition of the Gut Microbiota
in Cloned and Non-Cloned Pigs of Lean and Obese Phenotype”
“High-Fat Maternal Diet during Pregnancy Persistently Alters the Offspring Microbiome in a Primate Model | Nature Communications”; Huang et al.
“Composition of Dietary Fat Source Shapes Gut Microbiota Architecture and Alters Host Inflammatory Mediators in Mouse Adipose Tissue”; Zhang et al.
“Interactions between Gut Microbiota, Host Genetics and Diet Relevant to Development of Metabolic Syndromes in Mice”; de La Serre et al.
“Propensity to High-Fat Diet-Induced Obesity in Rats Is Associated with Changes in the Gut Microbiota and Gut Inflammation”
Kim et al., “High Fat Diet-Induced Gut Microbiota Exacerbates Inflammation and Obesity in Mice via the TLR4 Signaling Pathway”
Carvalho et al., “Modulation of Gut Microbiota by Antibiotics Improves Insulin Signalling in High-Fat Fed Mice”
Roy et al., “Intestinal Microbiota Determines Development of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Mice”
Ridaura et al., “Cultured Gut Microbiota from Twins Discordant for Obesity Modulate Adiposity and Metabolic Phenotypes in Mice.”
(2) Aune et al., “Dietary Fibre, Whole Grains, and Risk of Colorectal Cancer.”(3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31273523/