Got a gut feeling

| 29 August 2019
minute reading time

How vegetarian and vegan diets affect your gut microbiota

Gut microbiota, previously called gut flora, is the name given to the trillions of microorganisms living in your gut. They can have a profound effect on your overall health – for better or worse.

The difference in gut microbiota between vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters is well documented, with plant-based diets promoting a significantly more healthy population of gut bacteria.

Fibre is one of the main contributors in a vegan diet and it helps to increase beneficial lactic acid bacteria and reduce harmful Clostridium and Enterococcus species. It also encourages the growth of bacteria that break down fibre into compounds that help our immune system, provide energy and regulate some critical functions in the body. Polyphenols, also abundant in plant foods, increase bacteria which combat unhealthy bugs, have anti-inflammatory effects and have even been shown to protect heart health.

Research shows that plant-based diets are effective in promoting a diverse ecosystem of beneficial bacteria to support both your gut microbiome and your overall health.

Tomova A et al., 2019. The Effects of Vegetarian and Vegan Diets on Gut Microbiota. Frontiers in Nutrition. 6, 47.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
Justine joined Viva! in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. After working as a campaigner, then researcher and writer, she is now Viva!’s head of research and her work focuses on animals, the environment and health. Justine’s scientific training helps her research and write both in-depth scientific reports, such as White Lies and the Meat Report, as well as easy-to-read factsheets and myth-busting articles for consumer magazines and updates on the latest research. Justine also recently wrote the Vegan for the Planet guide for Viva!’s Vegan Now campaign.

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