Is the Vegan Microbiome Healthier Than the Omnivore Microbiome?
The human microbiome is in a constant state of flux, balancing beneficial bacteria with harmful bacteria. An overabundance of harmful bacteria can lead to various illnesses, allergies, and an impaired immune system. Some data have recent suggested that the vegan microbiome might be different from the microbiome of omnivores.
A recent Italian study comparing vegan diets, vegetarian diets and omnivore diets found that vegans had the healthiest diets as well as the healthiest gut microbiomes. This is likely because vegans tended to consume more raw high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains. Fiber is the most important nutrient for gut microbiome health, so those whose diet incorporated plenty of sources of fiber naturally had healthier guts.
Does Meat-Eating Result in a Less-Healthy Microbiome?
Eating meat is, in general, associated with an imbalanced gut microbiome. Harmful bacteria also proliferate in our gut when we eat foods that are polluted or contaminated in some way. For example, processed and factory-farmed foods, molded food, and pesticide-coated foods can all promote harmful bacteria and throw our gut microbiome out of balance.
The Vegan Microbiome May Be Associated with Better Overall Health
There are likely a slew of related reasons why vegans and vegetarians tend to have healthier gut microbiomes than people who eat meat. Studies thus far have not pinpointed an exact cause; they’ve only found that there’s an association. However, we can infer the cause from what we know about gut health and healthy diets in general.
Eating high-fiber foods is likely part of why vegans have healthier guts, but the other factor to consider is that vegans tend to be healthier individuals overall. After all, being mindful enough to cut out animal products doesn’t usually happen in isolation — vegans also tend to exercise more, and are less likely to smoke frequently or drink excessive alcohol. They make more mindful decisions about their diets, may be less stressed, and are unlikely to eat heavily processed food. All of these factors promote better gut health in addition to eating more raw produce and fiber.
Healthy Gut Lead to Better Overall Health
Omnivore or vegan, microbiomes are one of the most amazing aspects of the human body. Every one of our bodies is essentially a walking ecosystem, containing much more than just human cells. Most of our body consists of other types of cells, including bacteria, fungi, viruses and other tiny cells. All of these are called “microbes.” The ecosystem that is comprised of these microbes is what’s known as a microbiome. Without these microbes, we would not be able to survive. However, the microbes in our bodies can be both beneficial and harmful, so a delicate balance must be maintained.
The “gut microbiome” refers to the microbes that live in our digestive tract. They play a key role in health and disease. An unhealthily balanced gut can lead to weight gain, bloating, and digestive problems, among a myriad of other ill effects. A healthy gut can positively affect much more than just your digestive tract. According to Dr. Kessler, Gut health can prevent depression, skin conditions, various metabolic problems, bloating, asthma and autoimmune diseases.
Gut health is a big focus of my work as a health coach. It negatively affects so many people and can make life miserable. If you struggle with feeling bloated from time to time and want to know how to nip it in the bud, read on. And if you have questions about the vegan microbiome, we’ll provide some background for you too.
Rebuilding a Healthy Gut is Key to Addressing Digestive Issues
Here are some very important factors for the health of the vegan microbiome:
1. Ditch the Junk
Bloating is just one of many ways in which processed food harms your body. In general, processed food steals from your body rather than nourishing it. But the effects it has on belly bloat are profound, and it’s because of one ingredient: iodized salt. Iodized salt is the same as common table salt, and it’s contained in the vast majority of processed food. It’s astounding how much bloating can be traced back to iodized table salt!
In addition to avoiding processed food, you should avoid adding regular table salt to your own food. Always use non-iodized salts like sea salt or Himalayan salt.
2. Drink Lots of H2O and Tea
Flushing your body out with lots of water and tea can help to get rid of whatever culprits in your gut are causing the bloating. I like to add slices of lemon, grapefruit, and cucumber to my water as it makes it tastier and also helps stimulate digestive enzymes in the gut.
Black tea, which contains small amounts of caffeine, has a slight diuretic effect, helping to draw excess water out of the body. Peppermint tea helps with gas and stomach pain, and it’s darn refreshing. You can even mix the two and drink throughout the day, hot or cold.
3. Digestive Enzymes
Taking digestive enzymes with foods that normally cause you to bloat can help to reduce some or all of their negative effects. These enzymes give your system a helping hand in the digestive process and help your body to better assimilate nutrients. This, in turn, reduces bloating caused by those foods.
4. Eat More Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are a powerhouse of digestive benefits, and they can drastically reduce bloat. Adding a serving of sauerkraut, fermented veggies, kimchi, miso or tempeh to each meal is the best way to get rid of bloating for good. (The fact that these foods are full of delicious flavor is just a bonus!)
So much of your gut health is related to the millions of friendly bacteria in your body – these are also known as the microbiome. This is true for both the omnivore and vegan microbiome. As your gut microbiome starts to rebuild and strengthen itself, you’ll notice the bloating that used to be all too familiar rarely roars its ugly head anymore.
Conclusions About a Healthy Gut Microbiome
As usual, there is so much more to the human body than meets the eye. Don’t make the common mistake of ignoring your gut health! Many of us have already learned that processed foods and meat can lead to common illnesses and health issues, but the gut microbiome is really the key mechanism through which these harmful effects happen.
Our gut microbiome can either work for us or against us. Eating plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle, and following the other tips above will make your gut (vegan microbiome) happy and healthy — which will make you happy, too.
You may be interested in our 100% vegan, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Gut Restore Program that can help you rebuild your gut. Poor gut health is known to be the root cause of many chronic conditions including weight gain. This fabulous program takes you through eight weeks of rehabilitating your gut and reclaiming the life you deserve.
Our program is designed around the concept of bio-individuality and will teach you which foods SERVE your unique body and which foods HARM your unique body. Learn more about this 8-Week Gut Restore Program by clicking here.