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Healthy Diet Pays Off for Gut Health

An uptick in beneficial bugs is a natural side effect of eating right.

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Healthy diet improves gut microbiome

Looks like a healthy diet may help fertilize the human gut with beneficial bugs. That’s the conclusion of scientists from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who recently compared the colonic biopsies of 34 people with their scores on a food questionnaire based on the Healthy Eating Index.

Participants with higher scores on the HEI overall and on certain HEI components (such as fruit and whole grains) also had a greater population of potentially beneficial bacteria in their colonic mucosa (the inner lining of the colon). Those with poorer scores had less of the good bugs and more of the potentially harmful ones.

The study authors did not go further to determine the impact of these bacteria profiles, but there is a lot of scientific buzz suggesting that a healthy gut microbiome can improve a range of body systems, including digestion and brain function. Following the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a good place to start, as the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Cancer Institute developed the HEI based on these parameters.

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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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