What is the gut farmer diet?

September 15, 2023 6 min read

Gut Farmer Diet

When it comes to a healthy adult gut microbiome, lifestyle is key, particularly diet. As we grow older, and move away from our mother’s bosom and guidance, what we put into our bodies effectively shapes the ecosystem residing within our gut.

Ultimately, that means we could be helping or hindering our microbiota. For those of us who follow a typically Western or Standard American Diet (SAD), it’s likely we’re helping the not-so-friendly bacteria to thrive. This can have a huge impact on not only our gut but our wider health, too.

In this article, we’ll specifically focus on the gut farmer diet – a combination of factors that supports the health of our gut microbiome, enabling it to thrive.

Diet is key to a healthy adult gut microbiome

When it comes to your adult microbiome, your lifestyle can majorly influence its configuration. Diet is known to shape the structure, composition and even function of the adult gut microbiome[i]. The food you eat not only affects the health of your colon and your wider digestive system but also your overall health and wellbeing.

What do we mean? Well, gut microbes are key components for many aspects of human health, including immunity, digestion, metabolism, and neurological traits. Low bacterial diversity within the gut has been identified in people who experience various diseases, including:

Therefore, highlighting there is a link between low gut microbial diversity and disease. A gut microbiota that is rich in beneficial bacteria is likely to be more robust. That’s why our lifestyle is critical to the health of this natural ecosystem residing within us. Certain foods, and even dietary patterns, can influence the abundance of specific types of gut bacteria, ultimately influencing our health.

What is the gut farmer diet?

Although factors such as genetics, environment, medication, and exercise can influence the gut microbiota, diet is just as important. What you put into your body can have a positive or negative effect on the bacterial playground within your gut.

But there is a dietary pattern you can follow to maximise the output of your gut microbiome, the gut farmer diet. Simply put, the gut farmer diet is “seeding and feeding your gut through diet, prebiotics and probiotics.”[iii] Essentially it is a diet that focuses on nourishing your gut microbiome.

Prebiotics + probiotics = postbiotics

The gut farmer diet can be broken down into 3 important components:

  • Prebiotics
  • Probiotics
  • Postbiotics

Together, these three factors work to keep your gut environment healthy and in an optimal condition for beneficial bacteria to thrive.

You can think of the gut farmer diet as an agricultural activity, the prebiotics and probiotics are the seeds and nutrients needed to kickstart the process, while your colon is like the soil because it’s where the magic happens. Within here the nurturing and growing occurs, and the metabolites produced at the end (postbiotics) are like the shoots of a plant. It’s fascinating stuff, right?

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are the food for the beneficial bacteria in our gut. These foods which consist of dietary soluble fibre and polyphenols are digested or fermented by the colonic bacteria, controlling the balance of the intestinal microbiome[iv].

It’s important to note that without the special relationship your body has with its good gut microbes, this would not be possible. In the Western world, many of us are guilty of following a Westernised diet and the foods that contribute to this style of eating can feed the not-so-nice gut microbes. For example, eating a large amount of ultra-processed foods like sausages, ham, bread, biscuits, bacon, burgers, and fizzy drinks can alter the composition of your gut microbiome, leading to inflammation and potential negative health consequences[v]. That’s because ‘Western-style’ diets tend to be low in fibre and rich in saturated fat and sugar.

So, eating a rich number of prebiotics is good for your gut and your wider health. These foods contain substances that are known to stimulate the growth and activity of good bacteria. They do not contain live microorganisms, just the sustenance they need to keep them well-nourished.

There are many different types of prebiotic sources available, including:

  • Galactooligosaccharides (GOS)
  • Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
  • Inulin
  • Resistant starch

Are HMOs prebiotics?

Yes, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are a good example of soluble fibres because unlike some of the prebiotics listed above, HMOs have unique structural and functional properties. For example, they are complex carbohydrates made up of different monosaccharides.

But that’s not all. HMOs are specific to human beings and have not been found in any other mammalian milk. That means HMOs are tailored specifically for the human gut and its nutritional needs. In other words, HMOs are unique to humans and have the sole purpose of feeding the good gut bacteria known to live within our colon.

You can find out more in our ‘Why HMOs are the best prebiotic supplement’ blog.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria which are defined by the World Health Organisation as:

“Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”[vi]

Probiotics are available in many forms, and you may already be consuming them via capsules or fermented foods. The prebiotics you consume feed the probiotic bacteria, supporting their growth and activity. Hence the analogy of seeds, the probiotics are seeds, and the prebiotics are the nutrients they need to germinate and thrive.

Postbiotics

As the prebiotics set to work nourishing the probiotics, your colon acts like the ‘soil’ needed to help seed these mighty gut heroes. In doing so, it provides the perfect environment for the beneficial microbes to break down the prebiotic fibre and transform it into postbiotics – the metabolites bacteria produce when they consume these soluble fibres.

There is a huge variety of postbiotics available to your gut because of the special fermentation processes initiated by bacteria. They include:

  • Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAS) e.g., butyrate, propionate, acetate
  • Anti-inflammatory molecules
  • Low pH to support the optimal conditions for good bacteria and create a hostile environment for opportunistic pathogens
  • Neurochemicals

The gut farmer diet is an easy way to support the diversity of your microbiota because the greater the diversity, the larger the number of postbiotics you will yield.

Examples of prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics

We’ve talked a lot about pre-, pro-, and postbiotics, so here are some examples to help you follow a gut farmer diet.

Prebiotics

Probiotics

Postbiotics

Apples

Probiotic capsules (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria)

Butyrate

Bananas

Live yoghurt

Propionate

Garlic

Kefir

Vitamin B12

Onions

Kimchi

Vitamin K

Soybeans

Kombucha

Urolithin A

Jerusalem artichokes

Sauerkraut

Exopolysaccharides

Greens

Miso

Enzymes

 

Summary

Feeding your gut microbiota with the nutrients it needs to thrive is essential, not only for bacterial balance but also to promote your health. One way to ensure you’re seeding your gut is to follow a ‘gut farmer diet’.

The gut farmer diet incorporates prebiotics and probiotic foods to encourage a high production of postbiotics, such as SCFAs and vitamins. The more prebiotics you can eat, the greater the abundance of probiotic bacteria, and a higher yield of beneficial metabolites. In other words, the gut farmer diet = a healthy, happy microbiome.

Written byLeanne Edermaniger, M.Sc. Leanne is a professional science writer who specializes in human health and enjoys writing about all things related to the gut microbiome. 

Sources

[i] Zhang P. Influence of Foods and Nutrition on the Gut Microbiome and Implications for Intestinal Health. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Aug 24;23(17):9588. doi: 10.3390/ijms23179588. PMID: 36076980; PMCID: PMC9455721.

[ii] Valdes AM, Walter J, Segal E, Spector TD. Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. BMJ. 2018; doi:10.1136/bmj. k2179

[iii] Infant Microbiome in Sickness and Health - Part 1 of 3 [Internet]. YouTube. Layer Origin Nutrition; 2023 [cited 2023 Sept 6]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3MkYRmzfyk

[iv] Oniszczuk A, Oniszczuk T, Gancarz M, Szymańska J. Role of Gut Microbiota, Probiotics and Prebiotics in the Cardiovascular Diseases. Molecules. 2021 Feb 22;26(4):1172. doi: 10.3390/molecules26041172. PMID: 33671813; PMCID: PMC7926819.

[v] Shi Z. Gut Microbiota: An Important Link between Western Diet and Chronic Diseases. Nutrients. 2019 Sep 24;11(10):2287. doi: 10.3390/nu11102287. PMID: 31554269; PMCID: PMC6835660.

[vi] Hill C, Guarner F, Reid G, Gibson GR, Merenstein DJ, Pot B, et al. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2014;11(8):506–14. doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2014.66

 


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