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Gut Health Improvement

3 Effective Strategies For Gut Health Improvement by Dr Alan Desmond

Gut Health Improvement advice from Dr. Alan Desmond

Why Food Matters.

As rates of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes continue to soar, “What should I eat?” has become one of the most important questions of the 21st century. As a doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive health problems, my patients ask me this question all the time.  I believe that they deserve evidence-based answers.

Each one of us knows intuitively that food can play a vital role in helping us to improve our health, optimise our quality of life and even to heal and recover from illness. The scientific evidence shows that this is true. Food is medicine. To maximise your chances of health right now and into the future, to reduce your risk of chronic illness and to add healthy years to your life, you must start with the food on your plate.

Gut Health Improvement Ideas

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After years spent examining the research on diet, nutrition, gut health, and overall health, I am convinced that the more plants and the fewer processed foods on our plates the better. The logical conclusion? A whole food, plant-based diet. A diet that is built from the nutritious foods that humans have thrived on for centuries – fruits, vegetables, beans, wholegrains, nuts and seeds – can produce incredible benefits in both preventing chronic disease and restoring true health.

Whether we are aiming to prevent or treat heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, digestive cancers, or any of the diseases that have become so common in the 21st century, a plant-based diet has something to offer. I now start conversations with my patients by asking about the foods they eat each day. By putting more plants on their plates, I have seen individuals of all ages improve both their gut health and overall health, lose weight, improve their mood, and even reverse long-term illness.

A nutrient-rich approach to food.

A plant-based diet – one built around fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans and other legumes – has been consistently rated as one of most nutrient-rich dietary patterns available to humans. A healthy plant-based diet contains more fibre, folate, vitamins A, C and E, thiamine, riboflavin, magnesium, healthy oils, copper, and iron than a diet that includes meat and dairy.

Embracing this healthier approach to food isn’t about becoming vegan, or vegetarian, or applying any other label to your diet or lifestyle. It’s about simply choosing to build all your meals (or most of them) from the foods that have consistently been shown to benefit human health. The weight of scientific evidence overwhelmingly favours a whole-food, plant-based diet as the optimal choice for human health and longevity. The more plant-based, the better.

Nutrients For Gut Health Improvements

Max out your plant diversity!

There are more micro-organisms living within each of our digestive systems than there are trees on planet Earth or stars in the Milky Way! These bacteria, archaea, viruses and yeasts make up your gut microbiome, which contains 10 times more cells and 100 times more genetic material than the rest of your body combined. As you embark on any health journey, the friendly microbes of your gut microbiome will become your crucial allies.

Between 2012 and 2017 a team of US-based researchers set out to discover the factors that influence the health of the human gut microbiome in the industrialised world. They completed a detailed analysis of more than 11,000 volunteers, most of whom lived in the UK, the USA and Australia. The results of what became known as the American Gut Project reveal that when it comes to food, the number one predictor of a healthy gut microbiome is the diversity of plants in your diet! Participants who ate more than 30 different plants per week had unique fibre-loving bacteria that just weren’t found in people on a plant-deprived diet.

Gut Health Improvement Diversity

Among the 11,000 volunteers who took part, fewer than 1 in 250 were hitting that magic number of 30 different plants per week. I’m not asking you to eat thousands of different fruits, vegetables, legumes, and wholegrains, but I am strongly suggesting that we can all benefit from increasing the diversity of plants in our diets. Try it for a week. Remember that added herbs and spices, and nuts all count towards your weekly total. So do flaxseeds!

Adding just one tablespoon of Linwoods Milled Organic Flaxseeds a day adds to your plant-count with the some nice bonuses: antioxidant lignans, healthy omega-3’s and more than 2g of gut-healthy fibre.

Keep a running total for each meal and snack to find out how many plants your microbes are getting to ferment. Can you reach more than 30? If the answer is yes, then well done. Your gut microbiome will thank you with better health!



About The Author

Dr Alan Desmond MB, BCh, BMedSc, FRCP.

He is a sought-after health expert and has featured on several well-known podcasts, including “The Rich Roll Podcast”, “Deliciously Ella”, “The Proof”, “The Doctor’s Kitchen”, “The Melissa Ambrosini Show” and “The Exam Room”. Dr Alan has also featured in the Sunday Telegraph and Irish Examiner newspapers and has shared his expertise and enthusiasm for plant-based diets on BBC News Spotlight and Virgin Radio’s Chris Evans Breakfast Show.

Doctor Alan is a Consultant Gastroenterologist who has made evidence-based dietary advice an essential part of his medical  practice. He has presented at numerous international medical conferences on the benefits of this approach to food, alongside other renowned advocates including Dr Michael Greger, Dr Michael Klaper, Dietician Brenda Davis, Dr Kim Williams, and Dr Neal Barnard.  He is an Ambassador for Plant-Based Health Professionals UK, a not-for-profit group which educates members of the public, health professionals, and policy makers on the incredible health benefits of a plant-based diet. 

Certified in both Gastroenterology and General Internal Medicine, Doctor Alan completed his medical training in Ireland and Oxford. He has a specialist interest in the role of diet in the prevention and treatment of Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. A fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London, he has published several influential research papers in the field of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and is a dedicated advocate for the gut health benefits, and overall health benefits, of a whole-food plant-based approach to nutrition.  He lives in South Devon with his wife and three children.

Alan has written for the Daily Telegraph and the Irish Times. He has contributed to numerous best-selling publications, including “The Happy Health Plan” by Stephen and David Flynn, “How to Go Vegan” by Ian Theasby and Henry Firth of BOSH!, “How to Go Plant-Based” by Ella Mills, “Let’s Do This: How to use motivational psychology to change your habits” by Andy Ramage, and “Plant-Based Nutrition in Clinical Practice”, edited by Professor Shireen Kassam. HIs own best-selling book, ‘The Plant-Based Diet Revolution: 28 days to a happier gut and a healthier you’, is available wherever books are sold.

Doctor Alan shares plant-based meal inspiration and the latest research in nutritional science and health at

Find him online at

Read Dr Desmond’s scientific publications:


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