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In a new study published in the journal Science, researchers found that drinking tea, coffee and wine may be associated with a healthier and more diverse microbiome. (1) This is important, as the link between a more diverse stable of good microbes in your gut is linked to better health. (2)
After analyzing the gut microbes and lifestyles of more than 1,100 people, researchers found 126 factors that had effect on the microbiome:
>> 60 factors were diet-related
>> 19 factors were linked to drugs
>> 12 were associated with disease conditions
>> 4 were related to smoking
Foods that were found to increase microbial diversity were yogurt, fruits, vegetables and tea, wine, coffee and buttermilk.
Whole milk, sugary drinks or savory snacks were found to reduce the diversity of good bacteria in the gut. (1,4) Artificial sweeteners were also found to reduce populations of beneficial bacteria.
While coffee and tea are stimulants, they were traditionally taken with or after the meal to help stimulate better digestion. When these are taken with a meal, rather than on an empty stomach, the caffeine effect is much reduced. The key to healthfully consuming these beverages is to enjoy them with meals for taste, rather than on an empty stomach for a boost in energy. Wine consumed with the meals instead of on an empty stomach is better for similar reasons.
According to Ayurveda, yogurt (or lassi) is the last food of the meal that sweeps the intestines with good, healthy bacteria. The study participants who ate lots of yogurt had an abundance of those yogurt-based microbes in their guts. (1)
In another study, researchers evaluated stool samples of almost 4,000 people from the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium and the U.S. and found amazing results. (3) In the study, they found that drugs changed the microbiome the most. Those who had a history of taking antibiotics, osmotic laxatives, medications for inflammatory bowel conditions, antidepressants, antihistamines, benzodiazepines or hormones used for birth control or hormone replacement had the most dramatic negative changes in the microbiome. (3)
The number of microbes in the gut was not influenced by whether the person was breastfed, born vaginally or by C-section, and good news for women—they had more diversity than men. (3)
In both studies, the researchers concluded once again with the importance of a healthy microbiome for optimal health. The key factors that these two studies brought to light are the powerful impact that our diet has on our healthy microbes, and how pharmaceuticals (even hormones and over-the-counter drugs) have a negative effect on the microbiome.
This summer, learn which flowers are best to eat for each month in the 3-Season Diet Challenge. The microbes in the soil change dramatically each season and this, in turn, changes the microbes on the foods we eat—resulting in a dynamically shifting healthy and diverse microbiome.
- Science 29 Apr 2016: Vol. 352, Issue 6285, pp. 565-569. DOI: 10.1126/science.aad3369
- Los Angeles Times
- Science 29 Apr 2016: Vol. 352, Issue 6285, pp. 560-564. DOI: 10.1126/science.aad3503
- U.S. National Library of Medicine
Author: Dr. John Douillard
Image: studio tdes/Flickr
Editors: Emily Bartran; Catherine Monkman