Diet changes, gut flora and bowel cancer


A few months ago, I wrote a blog article about the excellent Forks over Knives documentary. The documentary made a fascinating and convincing case for the connection between major illnesses and a diet high in animal proteins. As a follow-on from that entry, I thought I’d mention a new article in this week’s New Scientist magazine. It reports on some very interesting new research. To quote:

Switching to a diet based exclusively on animals or plants triggers rapid changes to the microbes that rule your gut. This knowledge could help fine-tune diets to improve health, as well as reduce the risk of illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease.

The article goes on to say that when someone has switched (or is on) a largely plant-based diet, a particular bacteria dominates in the gut. This bacteria produces a fatty-acid known as butyrate, which is known to reduce inflammation. It is also 'thought to reduce colorectal cancer risk by boosting the health of cells lining the intestines and prompting cancerous cells to self-destruct.' (quoting from the article).

By comparison, the bacteria that dominates in the gut of someone on a high animal-protein diet - Bilophila wadsworthia - is linked with inflammatory bowel disease.

It'll be interesting to see if all this new evidence, including evidence that a vegetarian diet makes your cells younger, will cause a major change in how people view what they eat. I hope so.