Most of us pay attention to our gut health when we suffer from some type of gastrointestinal issues. Research has shown that there is a link between it and immunity. You must know that this depends very much on the food that you eat. A plant-based diet helps to maintain a healthy gut microbiome, i.e., the bacteria present in the intestines. Apart from this, our mood also affects gastrointestinal health. For instance, stress and anxiety influence bowel movement and digestion. This article will investigate how a plant-based diet influences gut health.
Feeding The Bacteria
The bacteria in your gut plays a significant role in maintaining gut health. There are trillions of them, of which some are good, some are neutral, and some are bad. Of these, the type of bacteria that dominates the gut microbiome depends on the food you eat. Those who eat more meat have more of the harmful bacteria, while those who eat more plant-based food have more of the good bacteria. Also, keep in mind that everyone has a unique composition of the microbiome, and this is very much like your fingerprint.
The Bacterial Growth In Gut
Gut bacteria that thrive on meat produce toxic by-products as part of their metabolism. On the other hand, bacteria that feed on plant-based food digest fiber and do not produce toxic by-products. So, eating a whole food plant-based diet helps to maintain a healthier gut. The other advantages of this include improved immunity and lower levels of inflammation. Furthermore, studies have shown that the toxic chemicals produced by the gut bacteria that feeds on meat are linked to heart diseases, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, and some types of cancer.
People who eat more meat-based food products have gut bacteria that use carnitine for their metabolism; this compound is mostly found in meat. Trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) is a by-product of this metabolism, and it is dangerous as it promotes the build-up of cholesterol plaques in blood vessels. This greatly increases the risk of heart diseases and other cardiovascular issues. On the contrary, this can be eliminated, or the risk can be reduced by following a plant-based diet or eating more plant-based food.
Prebiotics are food that encourages the growth or multiplication of gut bacteria. Plant-based food rich in fiber and starch is good for this. Gut bacteria feed on whole grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are used as an energy source for intestinal cells, and they have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects as well.
Probiotics are food that has live bacteria, which helps to populate the gut. Fermented plant-based food like kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, and miso are good sources of healthy gut bacteria.
On a final note, a balanced plant-based diet does not mean you have to avoid eating all animal-based foods, but you focus on eating more plant-based foods.