Diversity is Key with Plant-Based Diets



Diversity is Key with Plant-Based Diets

By Mark Zuleger-Thyss/Garden of Healing



People often relegate vegetables to a side dish, but if you are ready to give them a more central role by adopting a plant-based diet, know this, diversity is key. You do not need to go full-vegan, make small changes, get more plant-focused, and the result will be more significant benefits for your health and especially for your gut microbiome.

Plant-forward eating focuses on foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. You do not need to call yourself a vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Instead, you can regularly choose more of your foods from plant sources. The Mediterranean diet, which has a foundation of plant-based foods, also includes fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt with meats less often.

The Five A Day campaign, promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO), recommends eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day to lower the risk of serious health problems. The new challenge? Thirty different plant species throughout the week plus plenty of fiber is what recent research suggests.

Your gut microbiome relies on a variety of foods to build a diverse community of microbial cells. Beneficial bacteria play a crucial role in digestion and increase our resilience to infection. All disease starts in the gut, and scientific studies have linked at least 70 different health conditions to an unbalanced microbiome. More vegetables lead to a healthy gut.


A healthy microbiome supports our health in these ways:

  • It helps to eliminate toxins. Too much toxicity increases acidity and inflammation in the body.
  • The digestive tract houses 70% of our immune cells, and the stronger they are, the better our resilience to infections. This is your first line of defense against harmful microbes.
  • We absorb all our nutrients in the gut, which helps to fuel our energy and support all cellular functions.
  • Essential nutrients such as the B vitamins, vitamin K, and amino acids, hormones, and neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin are made in our microbiome.
  • Blood sugar levels become more balanced.
  • A healthy microbiome helps reduce fat in the blood.
  • The body is better able to regulate our appetite sending critical messages to the brain to tell us when we are full and when we are hungry.
  • It sends information to all our vital organs such as the brain, liver, and heart, so they perform more efficiently.
  • Our gut also plays a vital role in metabolizing medications as well as hormones.


Microbes in our gut thrive on fiber and antioxidants, which is why plants are so vital as they supply all of these in abundance. Increasing fiber from whole grains reduces the chances of developing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and many cancers. Fiber plays a crucial role in reducing depression, balancing mood in general, and producing focused, clearer thinking and decisiveness. Fiber also supports the regulation of hormones.

Eat a diversity of plant-based foods to create a healthy microbiome where good microbial cells need to feed and reproduce to thrive. What they feed off is fiber, polyphenols, and inulin (a type of soluble fiber). Eating the same vegetables every day is not enough. Ensure your diet includes a range of colorful vegetables, fruits, and a mix of whole grains to achieve the best results.



© 2020 Mark Zuleger-Thyss/Garden of Healing. All rights reserved.

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