The Magic 30

Before I get into talking about food, I want to first introduce you to your gut. Your gut, if you aren’t sure, is the long tube that makes up your gastrointestinal system including your esophagus, stomach and intestines. When you think of it, you may believe that it’s only purpose is taking care of the food you consume. However, there is so much more to it than that.

Did you know that 80% of your immune system lives in your gut? This is because we have trillions of bacteria living in our gut which work together to form your microbiome. The microbiome helps to regulate your immune system and helps to maintain the lining of your gut. It also works to keep harmful pathogens and substances from entering your bloodstream. Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that the healthier your gut, the healthier you are.

So, how do we look after our gut? Easy…food. Specifically plant food. See our microbiome loves fibre. Something which plant foods are particularly high in. But here’s the thing. Different bacteria prefer different plant foods. Therefore, if we only eat the same five plant foods over and over again, then only certain bacteria will thrive in our gut. What creates a strong gut is a strong diversity of bacteria. Therefore, we need a strong diversity of plant foods. That’s where the magical 30 comes in.

Well actually it’s not magical. However, research from the American Gut Project found that people who ate 30 different plant foods in a week had more diverse gut microbiomes than those who ten or less. Therefore, while 30 is not a magical number, it is certainly a goal which we should be working towards in order to diversify our gut microbes and have a stronger gut overall. 

So 30 sounds like a lot, right? Well don’t panic because plant foods are not just fruit or veg. They also include legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils), nuts, seeds and whole-grains. By adding in a couple of extra plant foods to each meal and snack, you’ll be hitting the 30 in no time.

Link to article:

University of California – San Diego. (2018, May 15). Big data from world’s largest citizen science microbiome project serves food for thought: How factors such as diet, antibiotics and mental health status can influence the microbial and molecular makeup of your gut. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 26, 2022 from

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