1. Forget 5-a-day, go for 30 plant foods a week
The key to good gut, and overall, health is diversity, which means instead of focusing on only the ‘best’ vegetables, it’s all about variety. The more diverse, whole plant-based foods you eat, the more you’re likely to boost the diversity of the trillions of gut microbes you have (gut microbiota, or what I like to call our GM).
Why does that matter? Essentially, having more diverse gut bacteria is linked to the health of pretty much every other organ in the body, including your heart, skin and brain.
My top tip: aim for 30 plant points a week. That’s 30 different types of plants across all plant food groups: fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes (beans and pulses), nuts and seeds, herbs and spices.
2. Ditch ‘detoxes’ and juicing for whole foods instead
Firstly, many detox cleanses can often do more harm than good. Those that contain laxatives might make you poop and feel lighter, but in the long-term can put you at risk of dehydration, nutritional deficiencies and even make you dependent on them to poop in future. The bottom line: there is no scientific evidence to support any ‘detox’ diet. Your kidney and your liver – the main detoxing organs – do just fine with your body’s detoxification without expensive juice diets or dodgy colon cleanses.
Instead, if you want to feel a little healthier and happier, eat and enjoy real food full of flavour, fibre and all the beneficial plant chemicals our gut microbes love.
My top tip: When it comes to juicing, particularly for those suffering with bloating or other symptoms, opting for whole foods instead of smoothies or juices is one of the first-line diet strategies that I share in my first book, Eat Yourself Healthy & Love Your Gut.
3. From ‘low-carb’ fads to fibre-filled eating habits
The paleo and keto brigades might sound convincing, but having such a restricted diet and cutting out good quality carbs has been linked with increased irritability, constipation, low energy, low mood, bad breath and headaches.
Fibre is a type of carb that nourishes our gut microbes, so they’re not to be feared! Fibre from wholegrains is not only good for your gut health, but studies show it can also reduce your chances of developing several diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer, to name just a few.
My top tip: Most guidelines recommend aiming for 30g of fibre a day. Check out my post here for handy sources of fibre to hit your goals – it might just be easier than you think!