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Protein & the gut

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Eating too much meat (protein) and not enough plants (fibre) is linked with poor gut health!

In fact research from my PhD showed increasing the protein:fibre ratio in your diet (which I termed the protein:fibre index), rather than the nutrients in isolation, was associated with increased gut-derived toxins. Essentially, eating excess protein and not enough fibre can lead to a more ‘aggressive’ GM (gut microbiota, the trillions of microbes living in our guts) environment – not to mention foul-smelling gas.

That’s because when our microbes ferment too much protein, they release chemicals that have been associated with negative health outcomes, which have been implicated in colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Now that does NOT mean you need to cut out all animal products, meat included, but it does mean it’s a good idea to side your protein with plenty of gut-loving fibre from all our plant-based foods. It’s about BALANCE!

That’s why my top tip is to aim for 30 plant points a week – that’s 30 different types of plant-based foods. What you add on the side of this plant goodness is up to you!

We’ve since replicated this with collaborators from the Karolinska Institute, suggesting the protein:fibre index is linked with heart disease too! Although this research was in people with early stage kidney disease, I suspect this index is going to be important for the general population too.