Eating the same thing every day affects gut health
FFiguring out what to eat each day is a drain – a triple drain if you figure it out for an entire household. While eating? Fun. Meal planning? Not so fun.
That’s part of why it’s so easy to get into a routine of eating the same thing every day. Maybe you start your day with the same breakfast, whether it’s eggs, a bowl of oatmeal, or a smoothie. Then for lunch you have an iteration of a salad with the same handful of ingredients. (Maybe you go wild and switch dressings.) For dinner, this is one of seven recipes you’ve memorized that require minimal ingredients and effort. Maybe you’ll dust off a cookbook on Sunday when you have more time. Can you relate?
Now, it certainly helps to have an arsenal of quick and easy meals up your sleeve. And, hey, as long as you cover your nutrient bases at every meal, it doesn’t matter if you eat the same thing over and over? Here’s the thing, though: According to gut health experts, eating the same foods every day isn’t such a good idea, yes, even if they’re healthy foods. South Carolina-based gastroenterologist and Powered by fiber author Will Bulsiewicz, MD, even goes so far as to say that eating a variety of foods (especially plant-based foods) is the best action you can take in terms of gut health. “The biggest predictor of a healthy gut microbiome is the diversity of plants in your diet,” he previously told Well + Good.
Tim Spector, MDprofessor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and scientific co-founder of the microbiome health society Zoe, saw with his own eyes exactly how eating the same thing every day affects the gut. He sees it through his work with Zoe and his scientific research, and even saw it in a mini-study he conducted himself when he enlisted his son. eat nothing but McDonald’s for 10 days. “That experiment took place in 2015 and even now he still hasn’t returned to his pre-McDonald level of gut bacteria diversity,” says Dr. Spector.
Okay, a McDonald’s diet is one thing. But what if your “identical diet” is healthy? Here, Dr. Spector explains what happens in both cases and gives more information on why the diversity of gut bacteria is so important.
What happens to the body if you eat foods devoid of nutrients every day?
Let’s start by digging deeper into what happens if someone eats the same foods every day and those foods have minimal nutritional value. For Dr. Spector’s son, he started noticing a huge change in his health just four days after starting the experiment. “He called me and asked if we could stop the study because he wasn’t feeling well,” Dr. Spector said. “He was lethargic and his friends told him he looked pale.” Her son also took a microbiome test during this time – again, just four days – which revealed he had lost between 30 and 40% of the bacterial diversity in his gut. Then he had to continue for six more days.
Eating the same foods every day not only minimizes the variety of bacteria living in the gut, but nutrient-poor foods are made with sugars, inflammatory oils and additives which actually kills the good gut bacteria that live there, allowing inflammation-causing bacteria to thrive in its place. Dr. Spector explains that the combination of these factors is detrimental to health, both short and long term. In the short term, according to Dr. Spector, eating the same nutrient-poor foods can lead to low batterybrain fog and digestive problems. You are also more likely to get sick because the immune system weakens. When it comes to the long term, eating this way has been scientifically linked to a long list of health issues, including depression, Alzheimer’s diseaseand some forms of cancer. This is exactly why easy access to nutrient-dense foods is a critical public health issue.
What are the best foods for gut health? Watch the video below to find out:
What Happens To The Body If You Eat The Same Healthy Foods Every Day
Okay, so the downsides of a long-term junk food diet are clearer than Sprite. But is it really that bad to eat the same thing every day if the food is nutrient dense? “If you eat the same kale salad every day, you won’t get the diversity of gut microbes that you would get if you had a different type of salad every day, like a kale slaw one day and a salad based on of cereal in the next bowl, for example,” says Dr. Spector. Sure, you might technically be hitting your nutritional goals, but you can always do better in the gut health department.
“Nutritional health isn’t just about counting nutrients, it’s about feeding the tens of thousands of microbes in our gut,” says Dr. Spector. Much like how bacteria in the lower intestine increase the risk of depression, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers, Dr. Spector says the reverse is true; a greater diversity of gut bacteria reduces the risk of these, even if you are consuming enough protein, fiber and other nutrients.
So, how diverse should your diet be? “A scientific study that took into account more than 11,000 people found that the sweet spot for the best diversity of gut bacteria is to eat 30 different types of plants per week,” says Dr. Spector. plant foods that there are, you will see that it is actually manageable to achieve. Vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, beans, legumes, soy, and herbs are all ways to do this.
Some people may wonder if eating the same food every day can lead to the development of sensitivity to that food. For example, if you eat eggs every day, can you develop egg sensitivity? Or maybe you wonder the opposite, if you do not do eating a certain type of food for an extended period of time can this lead to sensitivity? Dr. Spector says that in either case, the jury is still out. “It’s something I’ve heard anecdotally, specifically not eating a certain food which will cause difficulty digesting it in the future, but there’s no scientific evidence. solid for either situation,” he says. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen; Listening to your body is always important, especially if you feel like something is causing you digestive upset.
Do you feel encouraged to break out of your cycle of repeating identical meals now? What new food will you add to your grocery cart the next time you go to the store? Whichever you choose, there’s certainly no shortage of recipe ideas within reach on Google. If you really don’t know what to do, ask Well+Good’s Cook With Us Facebook Group over 15,000 people for ideas. After all, even the foods you really love can get overwhelming. “Kale is great, but if it was all you had in your diet, it would be pretty dreadful,” says Dr. Spector. Fairly true.
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