The importance of a diverse diet for good gut health

The importance of a diverse diet for gut health

Why having a diversity of plant-based foods in your diet is the strongest predictor of your gut health, and overall health.
Tereza Pigova
by Ceri Ball
BSc qualified Nutritionist (BANT) specialising in Women’s health, Gastrointestinal Health, Mood, Energy Support and Weight Management.

Picture this, it’s Saturday morning and you find yourself strolling down the same aisles of your local supermarket, filling the trolley with the same foods you do each week. Or perhaps you’re on the sofa about to press reorder on the weekly shopping cart. We get it, it’s common to fall into an unconscious pattern of buying and eating the same foods. After all, our taste buds have grown accustomed to the familiar tastes - it’s almost become tradition to eat Spaghetti Bolognese on a Tuesday evening!  

However, did you know that food variety is an important component of gut health? Let’s unpack this a little. Your gut bacteria relies on a diverse range of fibres from different foods and our bodies need a broad range of nutrients to function well.  Evidence shows that people that eat 30 different plant-based foods per week have an increase in gut microbiome diversity. As most of your immune system is located within the gut, you can see why diversifying your diet is important.  

30 plant-based foods per week may seem like an impossible feat. But if we think about it, plant points can be garnered not only from food such as wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables, but also fresh and dried culinary herbs, such as parsley, dill, basil, and coriander and aromatic spices. So, you can see how the numbers can quickly add up, which makes this concept a lot less daunting.  

With the abundance of food choices that we have available, it would be a shame to not switch some ingredients and transform a regular meal into something more diverse. Building a new repertoire of foods is simple and it’s easy to make savvy food swaps. Below are some tips to get you get started: 

  1. Trying new cuisines & recipes is a great way to naturally introduce new foods into the diet
  2. Swap your normal choice of wholegrains, try quinoa instead of pasta or rice.
  3. Try new kinds of vegetables each week and cook them in a different way.
  4. Have at least 3 different types of colourful vegetables on your plate. 
  5. Add a wider variety of vegetables to bulk up a standard meal. 

Food is diverse and exciting and doesn’t ever have to be restrictive or boring. We aren’t suggesting not to have your spag bol on Tuesday, but going forward, perhaps add some different vegetables or herbs next time.

So next time you look down at your shopping trolley, hopefully there will be a wider variety of colours, different foods, and exciting new flavours looking back at you.  



PMID: 29899036

PMID: 31766591