The health of the gut is paramount to the overall health of the body since the gut wall houses 70% of cells that make up the immune system, it helps to protect the body from infection, and regulates the metabolism.
Therefore, if the health of the gut is compromised, the overall health of the body is also compromised.
So, the health of your gut should be a priority for you, and if you’re looking to boost your gut health or you have an issue with your gut health, you might want to try a Microbiome diet!
The Microbiome diet is a diet specifically targeted to improve the microbiome (a collection of microorganisms present in a person’s intestines), as the name suggests! The diet aims to improve the health of the gut and therefore also improve the overall health of the body.
This article is your Microbiome diet 101, explaining how a Microbiome diet works, which foods you should and shouldn’t consume on this kind of diet, and answering the most commonly asked questions about the Microbiome diet.
How To Do A Microbiome Diet
The Microbiome diet is split into three phases, the first two of which last 7 weeks and are an intense ‘reset’ of the gut, and the final phase is a long-term diet plan to keep the gut healthy overtime.
Phase 1 of The Microbiome Diet
The first phase of the Microbiome diet is for 21 days (3 weeks) and resets the gut, removes unhealthy bacteria from the gut, repairs the gut lining with probiotics and prebiotics, and replaces digestive enzymes.
This phase is often called the ‘Four R’s stage because it focuses on removing (removing toxins, chemicals, and harmful hormones from the gut), repairing the gut, replacing enzymes and stomach acid, and reinoculating the gut with probiotics and prebiotics.
In order for the “Four R” stage to work, you have to avoid certain foods and switch them for plant-based, probiotic alternatives.
Foods that you need to avoid at this stage are:
Gluten, dairy products, soy products, potatoes, processed packaged foods, grains, eggs, fruit juice, artificial sweeteners, food colorings, legumes, trans fats, and fried food.
Foods that you need to consume at this stage are:
Plant-based foods, prebiotics, and probiotics (supplements and foods), kefir, yogurt, kimchi, garlic, artichoke, fruit, fish, avocado, nuts, olive oil, sunflower oil.
Phase 2 of The Microbiome Diet
The second phase of the Microbiome diet, once your gut has been reset and the microbiome should already be stronger, is for 28 days (4 weeks). This phase is called the Metabolic Boost phase.
This phase isn’t as strict as phase 1, but it still requires you to avoid certain foods most of the time (90% of the time). This means you can eat ‘not recommended foods’ from the phase 1 list around 3-4 times a week.
You can also add some foods back into your diet in this stage.
These foods are: eggs, sheep and goat dairy products, gluten-free grains, beans, sweet potatoes, and legumes.
Phase 3 of The Microbiome Diet
Phase 3 is the final phase and is a long-term diet plan. It’s called the ‘maintenance phase’ and it aims to continue supporting the gut and increasing the healthy microbiome of the gut.
Although this phase is long-term, it has no specific time frame and can be done until you feel your health has improved, or until you have lost your goal weight (a lot of people do the microbiome diet to lose weight).
In this final phase of the diet, your gut microbiome should almost be fully healed and you should feel as if your overall health has improved.
When it comes to the foods lists in phase 1, you should consume the ‘ recommended healthy gut foods’ 70% of the time, and then for the remaining 30%, you can eat what you like.
However, you should continue to avoid processed food, foods with sweeteners and colorings, foods that contain high levels of sugars and fats.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Microbiome Diet
Who Should Be On The Microbiome Diet?
A variety of people can benefit from the Microbiome diet, and if you’re looking to improve your gut health and restore a healthy microbiome, it might be right for you!
However, most people that decide to go on the Microbiome diet are either suffering from gut-related health issues, want to detox or want to boost their metabolism and lose weight.
Should Anyone Avoid A Microbiome Diet?
The Microbiome diet is considered safe for most people.
However, if you’re under 18, pregnant, breastfeeding, have a serious medical condition or you’re on medication, you should definitely seek professional medical advice before starting this type of diet.
How Do You Lose Weight On A Microbiome Diet?
The Microbiome diet helps you to lose weight for two reasons. The diet restricts your consumption of sugary, fatty, processed foods and encourages your consumption of fruit, vegetables, and plant-based foods.
Therefore, this sudden change in diet from unhealthy foods to healthy foods and the restriction of food helps you to lose weight.
The second reason that a Microbiome diet helps you to lose weight is that it boosts the metabolism by improving the gut microbiome and the overall health of the gut. With a boosted metabolism, you burn more calories.
With a high metabolism, you need to consume more calories to maintain your weight, so consuming the same amount of calories and having a higher metabolism will lead to weight loss.
Should You Supplement On A Microbiome Diet?
It’s highly recommended that you take supplements whilst you’re on a Microbiome diet to ensure that your nutrient intake remains high and your gut health is further supported.
- Probiotics and Prebiotics – to help further improve the microbiome of the gut
- Vitamin D – to support microbiome diversity
- Glutamine – to strengthen and repair the gut lining
- Berberine – to push toxins from the body, to reduce inflammation, and to protect from viruses and infections
- Oregano Oil – to protect the gut lining from damage
To ensure that you’re consuming enough micronutrients, you may also want to consume a superfood supplement.
Of course, every superfood supplement is different, but generally, superfood supplements not only support the digestive system, but also boost energy levels, improve the immune system, and support circulatory health.
This kind of supplementation can not only improve the microbiome of the gut and support the Microbiome diet, but it’s also important to supplement to keep nutritional intake high during a diet change.
Are There Any Disadvantages of The Microbiome Diet?
Although there are obviously lots of benefits to the Microbiome diet, there are some disadvantages too, which you may want to take into account before starting it.
The first obvious disadvantage of the Microbiome diet is that it’s restrictive.
Although the second phase and final phase are much less restrictive, the first phase can be hard to commit to and keep up. Some people may find that their motivation to do the Microbiome diet dwindles in the first phase.
The second disadvantage to the diet is that it can be expensive. Organic foods and supplements are obviously much more expensive than processed foods and no supplements!
So, your bank balance might take a hit when you do the Microbiome diet.
A third disadvantage to the diet is that although the diet may show weight loss results, it may be difficult to actually document the results that you get from the diet because it changes the health of the gut.
Some people may find it difficult to stay motivated on a diet where they may not be able to see empirical results.
The Bottom Line – A Microbiome Diet Might Be Good For You!
Although the Microbiome diet may be restrictive (in the first phase specifically), it can renew, repair, and restore the gut, which subsequently improves the body’s overall health and improves overall wellbeing in daily life.
If you want the benefits from an improved microbiome but you’re not sure if you’re ready to start a Microbiome diet because you’re worried it may be too restrictive, you might want to focus on simply improving your consumption of gut-healthy foods and reducing your consumption of foods and substances that are detrimental to gut health.
Either way, whether you do the Microbiome diet or you make small changes towards a healthier gut, eating healthier fiber-rich foods, consuming probiotics, and taking supplements is definitely going to improve your health!