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The benefits of a plant-based diet for your gut

Posted by Stewart Dunlop in Plant Based

Estimated reading time: 5mins

The benefits of a plant-based diet for your gut

Add more plants to your diet

We’ve seen a new wave of people opting for a greener, whole food diet while kicking out unnecessary processed food and meat as more studies unravel the health concerns over these food choices

“Plant-based” is still quite loosely defined. Generally speaking it is a diet mainly consisting of foods derived from plants. So nuts, seeds, grains, fruits and vegetables. Those on this diet will consume little to no animal products.

So, for one person, it may mean going vegetarian. For another it may mean going full vegan. And for another person it may just mean cutting meat out of most meals.

Claims have been made that a plant-based diet is good for your gut. In this article, we’ll go through some of these claims that are backed by scientific research, so you don’t have to get lost in the sea of science.

It may smooth bowel movements

Simply put, there are two kinds of fibre; soluble and insoluble. Both play an important role in preventing constipation and ensuring you have a smooth and comfy time in the toilet. Lists of fibre-rich food can be found here.

Soluble fibre mixes with water to form a gel-like substance that makes the stool softer, larger and smooths the movement of the stool in the intestines. Furthermore, soluble fibre seems to be the ideal substrate to generate certain metabolites that supply nutrients to the colon cells.

Insoluble fibre adds bulk and weight to the stools which helps food pass through the intestines quickly and prevents you from feeling constipated.

This being said, if you feel constipated frequently, do give a plant-based diet a try and you might be grateful for it on your next toilet visit.

Feel the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Plant-based diets can help to smooth bowel movements.

It may fight inflammation

Inflammation occurs as our body’s result of alerting us that something isn’t right and as a method to fight harmful viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. By swelling up and feeling very warm in that region, our body is driving out those harmful substances from our system, which can get very uncomfortable for us.

There are plenty of foods that fight inflammation, and many of them can be found in a plant-based diet.

Gastritis is a form of inflammation that occurs in the stomach lining that usually begins during childhood. On average, more than half the world’s population presently have chronic gastritis!

Gastritis can be very painful and may result in stomach bleeding and painful ulcers. High plant diets which are rich in fibre have been known to alleviate stomach inflammation.

A plant-based diet may help prevent Colorectal Cancer

Keep in mind that the food we consume isn’t only for us. We’re feeding the trillions of microbiotas that reside in our digestive tracts. These microbiotas, through a symbiotic relationship with our intestines, help in maintaining the integrity and overall health of our colon or large intestine.

Colorectal Cancer (CRC) has been found to be more common in the West, where there is a higher consumption of red meat in the typical diet than when compared to those from poorer East African and Asian counterparts, whose diets tend to be high in plant fibre with less red meat.

Scientists were intrigued by this and have conducted a study on the relationship between meat consumption and CRC.

According to the study, the starch in our diet enters the colon and undergoes fermentation by members of the microbiota and yields end products such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H). The main SCFAs include acetate, propionate, and butyrate.

Many of the SCFA’s have positive health effects on the colon mucus, but butyrate is the most potent in respect to cancer protection. So, the higher your fibre intake, the lesser the risks of colon cancer!

Besides benefiting your gut health, having a plant-based diet has been known to reduce cholesterol levels, cardiovascular diseases and a myriad of health issues that are common nowadays.

It’s worth a try!

Besides benefiting your gut health, having a plant-based diet has been known to reduce cholesterol levels, cardiovascular diseases and a myriad of health issues that are common nowadays.

Think about it, when was the last time you heard about a relative or friend that suffered a disease that could be prevented with a healthier diet?

Start off slowly by replacing one meal with one with higher content of whole foods and plants while reducing the meat proportion.

After a few attempts, you’ll notice it gets easier and you’ll start feeling good about yourself!

What’s important is that you slowly turn these habits into a lifestyle that you’ll reap the benefits of over the long term. Too many people quit because they started too strong and too quickly!

References:

  1. Palmer, S., 2020. The Top Fibre-Rich Foods List. [online] Today's Dietitian. Available at: https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/063008p28.shtml.
  2. Vipperla, K. and O'Keefe, S., 2016. Diet, microbiota, and dysbiosis: a ‘recipe’ for colorectal cancer. Food & Function, [online] 7(4), pp.1731-1740. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26840037/.
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