From Paleo to Keto, about 45 million Americans go on a diet each year. But many have yet to learn that they could change their microbiome in the process.
Changes in one’s diet can have positive or negative consequences on overall health, says Dr. William DePaola, a microbiome expert at the University of Washington Medicine.
Dr. DePaola says a healthy and varied diet – one high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats – is generally considered good for your gut.
On the flip side, fad diets, which focus on one food group, or eliminate variety in the diet, generally have a negative effect on the microbiome and, potentially, your long-term health, he says.
“The bacteria that reside in your intestines are important for day-to-day function but also for your overall health,” Dr. DePaola adds.
In short, you are what you eat, especially in your gut.
A better way to improve health & manage weight
Here’s the thing: you can better your health without focusing on weight loss.
Lifestyle changes and habits can improve health markers like blood pressure and heart health. These daily tweaks can include walking, cooking more at home, prioritizing sleep, and reducing stress.
A calorie deficit will lead to weight loss, but deprivation can backfire. Sure, drastic dieting may help you lose weight in the short term, but it’s not sustainable.
Moreover, certain restrictive diets may increase the risk of developing eating disorder tendencies.
Additionally, a restrictive diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies and unpleasant side effects like constipation and muscle cramps.
The Anti-Fad Diet
Experts say choosing a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods is best. Aim for meals that include lean protein, high-fiber carbs, and healthy fats. Not only will this help you eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods, but it’ll also promote healthy gut microbiota.
And here’s another pro tip: focus on adding instead of taking away, especially when it comes to fruits and veggies.
It’s also a good idea to wean yourself off added sugar, which can appear in sweet treats and foods like bread, crackers, and yogurt.
You may want to consider some savvy supplementation if you’re not getting all the necessary nutrients and minerals from food.
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