In their study, the team found that eating a plant-based diet, considered by most to be one of the healthiest diets around, enhances good bacteria in your gut and increases it to seven percent, compared to only 0.5 percent in meaty and Western dishes.
Dr. Hariom Yadav, the lead author of the study, and his research team, used an animal model designed to copy and mimic human’s Western- and Mediterranean-type diets that can be analyzed over a period of time. (Related: Eating a Mediterranean-style diet protects your liver.)
The study involved a pre-clinical study of non-human primates who were given both Western and Mediterranean diet groups and were studied for at least 30 months. During this time, both diets had the same number of calories, although both consists of a different set of meals.
The Western diet consisted of the following: lard, butter, eggs, beef tallow, cholesterol, sucrose, and high-fructose syrup. The Mediterranean diet consisted of sucrose, fruit puree, vegetable juice, fish meal, olive oil, butter, eggs, black and garbanzo bean flour, and wheat flour.
The key components of Mediterranean diet emphasize eating primarily plant-based food, limited intake of red meat to twice to thrice a month, and replacing butter with healthy fats like olive oil. After 30 months of the clinical study, Yadav’s team was able to analyze the gut microbiome for concrete scientific findings.
Microbiomes are the good bacteria found in the gut. After collecting and analyzing fecal samples from non-human primates, Yadav’s team was able to conclude that the gut bacteria from those who had Mediterranean diet group was significantly higher than those in Western diet group.
According to Yadav, we currently have about two billion good and bad bacteria living in our gut, and if these bacteria are not properly balanced, our health can be compromised. Studies have shown that one of the reasons why Mediterranean diet groups are known to be healthier is because the diet promotes significant increase of good bacteria, specifically Lactobacillus – a probiotic essential for healthy digestion and keeping the gut healthy.
The Mediterranean diet offers further benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease. It may also reduce the risk of the following diseases: cancer, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
For these reasons, Yadav’s research findings and the data that their team has collected may be a gateway into getting more useful studies intended to understand the benefits of a healthy microbiome. The results can also help identify how a healthy gut may help in reducing the risk of Type-2 diabetes, obesity, and psychiatric disorders.
Starting on a plant-based diet
Transitioning from all the meaty and greasy goodness of your everyday food to a greener and healthier diet is not easy, but it’s definitely doable. Try these simple steps to kickstart your journey to ditching unhealthy foods.
- Slowly goodbye to processed foods and meat.
- Start familiarizing yourself with the different types of plants that you can eat.
- Incorporate vegetables into your meals or instead snacking on chips, grab a fruit.
- Make a garden which will be your own source of plant food.
- Find people or groups that have the same goal as you so you can easily find motivation.
- Once you’ve started, commit to it.
Here are other plant-based diets you can try.
- Whole foods plant-based diet
- The starch solution program
- High-fat, raw-vegan diet
- The nutritarian diet
- Detox vegan diet
- SOS-free diet
- Raw till 4 diet
- Whole starch, low-fat diet
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