Photo credit: Morgan Walker/NPR
a recent article from npr.org highlights a very interesting study out of Harvard University showing one more mechanism by which an animal-based diet can immediately increase inflammation in our gut.
Researchers compared the effects of a meat and cheese centered diet versus a plant-based diet with the goal of finding out how fast gut bacteria could be altered. Microbiologist Lawrence David noted that “the relative abundance of various bacteria species looked like it shifted within a day after the food hit the gut.” A bacterium that flourished under the meat diet is associated to gut inflammation and intestinal disease in mice. This is consistent with many other studies over the past few years that have shown how the bacteria in our gut influences our weight, immunity and behavior (including depression).
Studies that help us understand the importance of our gut flora are very important especially since gastrointestinal disease is becoming more common; sales of medications used to control stomach acid continue to rise with Nexium pulling in close to 6 billion dollars a year in the US alone. Side effects of such drugs include nutrient absorption issues, harmful bacterial overgrowth and decreased resistance to infection.
On a more positive note, consistent with the findings of this study, I’ve seen clients improve their gut health and relieve symptoms within days of cutting out meat and dairy and transitioning to a healthy plant-based diet. Decades of scientific and clinical research teaches us that nutritional therapy is significantly more powerful than drug therapy, with the added benefit of having no side effects.
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist
Seems like a small, short-term study, right?
It’s a complementary study that sheds some light on the mechanisms at play when a dietary change is implemented, and the results are consistent with the convergence of evidence regarding the benefits of a proper plant-based diet. On its own, the study simply shows that the microbiome can be quickly altered through diet, and this is a very interesting field of research that can help create better treatments for intestinal diseases. Imagine a future where doctors have the knowledge to treat people with food instead of drugs.