By now, we’re all aware that our gut health is pretty damn important. It can affect everything from our skin, mood and brain function to our overall wellbeing. But did you know that your microbiome (the ecosystem of trillions of bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal tract) can also impact your weight? You see, the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut plays a pivotal role in how you metabolise your food. If yours is out of whack, it can mean your body isn’t efficiently utilising carbohydrates, protein or fat for energy—which can inhibit your ability to lose body fat or gain muscle.
The good news is, your microbiome isn’t fixed—there are things you can do to positively shift the balance of bacteria. Enter, the microbiome diet.
The microbiome diet is a way of eating that promotes an environment where the good bacteria can thrive. The result is improved digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. While the microbiome diet is trending at the moment, it’s actually been around since 2014. There are a few variations of the diet, but the original and most well-known is literally called ‘The Microbiome Diet.’
Developed by integrative medicine and intestinal health specialist Dr. Raphael Kellman, The Microbiome Diet consists of a three-phase program. The first phase (21 days) focuses on eliminating bad bacteria and increasing the good, while phase two (four weeks) is about boosting your metabolism and the final stage educates you about how you can maintain good gut health for life.
Apart from boosting your metabolism and assisting with weight loss, the microbiome diet is said to help with digestive issues like bloating and irritable bowel syndrome. Gut health is also known to have a significant impact on your immune system, so it makes sense that healing your microbiome would have a positive impact on your overall wellbeing, too.
While it depends which microbiome diet you do, Kellman’s version is all about loading up on lean protein, non-starchy fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and fermented foods like pickles and kombucha. Kellman also suggests a variety of bacteria-promoting supplements to take daily. So far, so sensible. That said, there are a few things you’ll need to avoid on the diet, including processed foods, eggs, sugar soy, gluten, dairy and yeast. Even foods like brown rice, dried fruit, potatoes and peanuts are off-limits due to their high sugar content—but you can re-introduce these after a few weeks.
There are definitely plenty of positive aspects to the microbiome diet, such as the lack of calorie counting and avoiding processed foods and sugar in favour of wholefoods. Plus, improving your gut health is always a good thing! However, it’s when you start to eliminate things like gluten and dairy when you don’t have an intolerance that you start to run into issues, as you can develop nutritional deficiencies. Plus, the gut thrives on variety! Our advice is to always chat to your doctor if you’re experiencing gut health issues like indigestion or bloating, rather than just jumping on the latest diet bandwagon.