Now that we know scaling way back on sugar is key, what should we actually eat to promote health and microbial diversity within the gut? Drawing from the American Gut Project and their work with the microbiome, one of the best guides is to start eating at least 30 different plant foods per week.
That’s because eating more than 30 different plants per week has been associated with greater microbial diversity, in part because all these plants contain loads of fiber, and fiber is an essential fuel for good gut bugs. Additionally, eating a wide variety of plants helps feed specific microbes known as the short-chain fatty acid fermenters—aka the protectors of the gut that control inflammation and help regulate the immune system.
Plus, people who eat 30 plant foods per week have been shown to have significantly fewer antibiotic-resistance genes (which is important, given the rise of superbugs); a lower intake of linoleic acid, which is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity in large amounts; and a greater intake of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and otherwise health-promoting micronutrients like beta-carotene, folate, and vitamins A, K, and C.