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  • Writer's pictureShannon Sponagle

How Vegetables and Microbes Are Going to Save Your Life

The number one piece of advice I give to clients who come to me for nutritional consults is "Eat a variety of real foods and eat less processed food." Of course, depending on their health and goals, there will be lots of other personalized recommendations along with that advice, but this is one thing I tell everyone, always. There has always been compelling evidence for following this advice and now this: a large, new study has shown that eating a variety of real, unprocessed foods creates a microbiome that is associated with lower risks of obesity, heart disease, Type II Diabetes and a host of other conditions. Further, the study goes on to show that a diet high in processed foods has the opposite effect, increasing the risk of heart disease and other metabolic diseases.

Your microbiome is the combination of microorganisms living in your gut. It's well known that our gut mircobiota influence many areas of our health. This new study shows that the effects of these microbes on our health is more significant than even our genes. This is an astonishing discovery - and it's good news! It suggests that by making simple changes to our diet, we may lower our risk of heart disease, obesity, Type II Diabetes, etc., even if we have a strong family history of metabolic disease.

What changes should we be making? Simple: make sure real, whole foods make up most of your diet. This means foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, like oatmeal and brown rice, nuts, seeds, fish, poultry. Then reduce or avoid highly processed foods, ie. anything made in a factory and foods made from refined, white flour, sweetened beverages, processed meats and foods with added sugar, salt and other additives.

As I said, none of this is new advice, but now we know about the important connection between nutrient dense, whole foods, a healthy microbiome and the benefits to our overall, lifelong health. That's pretty good motivation to reach for a banana instead of a bag of chips the next time you want a snack, isn't it?


Asnicar, F., Berry, S.E., Valdes, A.M. et al. Microbiome connections with host metabolism and habitual diet from 1,098 deeply phenotyped individuals. Nat Med (2021).

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