Updated: Sep 13, 2019
When I get a set of microbiome results back to analyse, one of the very first aspects of microbiome health I assess is diversity. With important exceptions (such as the vaginal microbiome) in most natural ecosystems, a greater diversity of species is associated with greater health of the ecosystem.
One of the best accepted ways of increasing gut microbiome diversity is to increase the diversity of plant-based foods in your diet. In a follow-up session recently, a client shared a simple chart she had found online. She was using it to help her follow my recommendations for increasing the diversity of her diet. This looked really useful, so I took this idea and developed it further, including the foods known to be highest in polyphenol content. The result: my new Eat The Rainbow chart!
Polyphenols are naturally occurring chemicals in plants, and certain kinds are responsible for the colours of plant foods. Polyphenols are known to have many potential health benefits, including anti-cancer, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory properties. They also feed beneficial bacteria in the gut and help shift the balance of your microbiome towards health. Not only that, but byproducts of the bacterial consumption of polyphenols are also understood to have a beneficial role in the body, including promoting healthy brain function.
We are privileged to get a diversity of fresh fruit and veg throughout the year. Eating a rainbow every day will not only help diversify your microbiome but also increase the numbers of beneficial bacteria in your gut that protect you from inflammation, improve digestive wellbeing and support the health of many organs and processes in your body. Download the chart, pop it on your fridge, and use it as your inspiration for eating the rainbow every day!
There are of course many plant foods not included here; red quinoa, white quinoa, blue corn, yellow corn... so please just use these lists as inspiration. If you can record a different food in each box on this sheet, then you know you have eaten more than 40 different plant foods in your week.