Why is gut health important?
Over the past several years, there has been a dramatic surge of interest in the topic of gut health, which has led to more research being conducted on human gut health and how this relates to disease and immunity. However, there hasn't been a sudden surge in interest in the topic of gut microbiota. Hippocrates, who lived more than two thousand years ago, observed that the gut is the origin of all sickness.
The findings of contemporary research have demonstrated that one's gut health can affect a wide variety of health problems, both inside and outside of the gut. To give just a few examples, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, autoimmune illnesses, obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Fatty Liver Disease, asthma, allergies, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and cancer are all diseases that can be influenced by the gut.
Therefore, it is essential to have a solid understanding of the foods that foster a healthy gut microbiome to maintain the microbiome in a balanced and healthy state.
Do vegans have better gut health than omnivores?
A comprehensive analysis of previous research published in 2019 found that following a plant-based diet results in a greater diversity of gut bacteria. These bacteria are responsible for the majority of the factors that determine our overall gut health. A vegan diet has been found to foster microbial systems that are more diversified and stable. According to the findings of the study, vegans and vegetarians have much greater levels of specific bacterial organisms in their bodies compared to omnivores.
Fiber is important for a healthier gut.
We are unable to digest the form of the carbohydrate known as fiber. Fiber is not found in any meals derived from animals because it can only be found in plant sources. Our gut bacteria require food in the form of fiber to survive and flourish in our bodies. This type of fiber is also referred to as prebiotics, which means that it serves as food for probiotics, also known as beneficial gut flora. The gut microbiota of humans who consume plant-based diets is highly diverse, according to a study that was conducted on vegan and vegetarian diets. This diversity provides anti-pathogenic and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as protection for the cardiovascular system.
A diet high in fiber is associated with many health benefits, including increased defense against pathogens, the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, provision of energy substrates, and regulation of essential processes of the intestine. In addition, it concludes that following a vegetarian or vegan diet is an excellent way to generate a diversified ecosystem of beneficial bacteria that is good for our gut microbiome as well as our overall health.
Which foods contain the highest amounts of fiber?
The less processing that has gone into plant-based foods, the more fiber they will have retained. Fruits and vegetables contain the highest levels of fiber of all foods. Whole grains and legumes both have a high fiber content, which means that eating them will help you feel full for a longer amount of time after you have finished a meal.
The recommended amount of fiber that should be consumed daily from meals ranges anywhere from 25 to 30 grams. The typical daily fiber consumption among Americans is approximately 10 to 15 grams, which is a much lower amount.
Probiotics are important for a healthier gut.
Probiotics are living bacteria that help restore the natural balance in your gut by raising the quantity of "good bacteria" in your microbiome. This can be accomplished by increasing the amount of "good bacteria" that you consume. Probiotics have been shown to benefit a person's health in a variety of ways when they are taken regularly and in sufficient amounts.
Your digestive tract, immunological system, synthesis of serotonin (often known as "the happy chemical"), and ability to ward off disease are all improved by the presence of beneficial bacteria in your gut. This helps keep your body healthy and happy.
Bloating, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (also known as IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (often known as IBD), and diarrhea are some of the digestive problems that probiotics have been shown to help decrease symptoms of. They have also been used to boost one's immune system; a healthy gut is associated with several benefits, including increased resistance to infections and colds, as well as improved recovery after illness.
On the other hand, an imbalance in the gut can lead to gastrointestinal problems, allergic reactions, difficulties with maintaining a healthy weight, and other problems.
How to get Probiotics as a Vegan?
In contrast to regular probiotics derived from dairy products, vegan probiotics are live bacteria strains that come from vegan sources.
They are often cultivated through the process of fermentation, and you may easily include vegan probiotics in your diet through the consumption of probiotic foods, probiotic pills, and probiotic beverages.
Here is a list of vegan probiotic foods you can incorporate into your diet for improved gut health
Fermented Foods as a Source of Probiotics
The vast majority of meals that have been fermented come from plants.
The fermentation process is a time-honored method of food preservation that involves the employment of bacteria and yeast to convert carbohydrates and sugars into less harmful byproducts (this is the brine used in the fermentation process). This stimulates the creation of vitamins and bacteria and results in the formation of probiotics.
Examples of vegan fermented foods are as follows:
- Kimchi is a tasty fermented spicy cuisine that is prepared with cabbage and spice.
- Tempeh is a classic Indonesian soy-based food that is made from fermented soybeans.
- Kombucha is a fermented tea that is made using a fermentation colony called a 'SCOBY.'
- Miso is a classic Japanese flavor that is produced by fermenting soybeans; it goes great with stir-fries and soups (at our house, anyhow!).
- Pickles, which are fermented vegetables that have been pickled in brine!
- Sauerkraut, which is loaded with healthy types of bacteria, as well as Vitamins C, K, and Potassium
The taste that is produced through fermentation is frequently described as being robust, acidic, or sour.
You can get probiotics in supplement form, just like you can with vitamins.
Tablets that are dry and contain probiotic cultures that are in a dormant state are commonly used as probiotic supplements. The types of probiotic strains and the amount of probiotic cultures included in each supplement will vary, demonstrating that they are not all equivalent to one another.
Be very careful, because not all of them are plant-based.
To increase their overall volume, some probiotic supplements also contain additional components. One form of lactose, which is found in dairy products, may be among these components. Since the probiotic cultures themselves are typically grown on dairy "mediums," they are not always obtained from vegan sources. In some cases, however, they can be obtained from non-vegan sources. This ought to have a label that's easy to read!
What may cause poor gut health?
In addition to a Western diet that is heavy in sugar, high in fat, and low in fiber, there is another, fairly important factor that contributes to poor gut health. This factor is a poisonous chemical called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).
A high concentration of the TMAO chemical in the blood makes it six times more probable that a person will suffer a heart attack or stroke. It also makes it more likely that the individual will require surgery, suffer from chronic renal disease, and have a higher risk of dying. It is just as harmful as having excessive levels of cholesterol.
Sources of TMAO include:
- eggs (especially egg yolks)
- meat (especially beef and lamb)
- high-fat dairy products
- energy drinks
These foods contain particular nutrients, including carnitine and choline, which, when digested by our gut bacteria, are converted into TMAO. According to the findings of several studies, the only people who have high levels of TMAO in their guts are those who consume meat daily and who keep collecting increasing levels of it by continuing to consume the items listed above.
Plant-based eaters, on the other hand, do not have TMAO in the gut, and interestingly enough, even if a vegan eats any of the foods that cause TMAO just once, such as meat or eggs, they will still barely produce any TMAO. This is because TMAO is produced from the breakdown of animal products in the gut.
Therefore, vegans simply have a different group of bacteria, an ecosystem in their gut that is based on plant matter, and this ecosystem does not contain the bacteria that are necessary to generate the potentially hazardous TMAO in the first place. Studies have revealed that after only two weeks of following a vegan diet that is rich in whole fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, we begin to establish a different type of gut flora that is more beneficial to our health.