Eating for gut health

As research increases what we know about the link between diversity in diet and gut health, Emily Muddeman gave it a go herself, eating 30 plants a week and sharing her tips.

The concept of gut health has gained a lot of momentum over the last few years, but it’s not just a wellness fad. A few years ago, most people hadn’t heard of the term ‘gut microbiome’, but today gut health is a hot topic, and for good reason. 

Having a healthy gut plays a huge part in our overall health, including our mental health, digestion, and immunity. Our gut microbiome (or gut flora) is made up of trillions of microorganisms, like bacteria and fungi. There are up to 1,000 species of bacteria in the human gut microbiome: each of them plays a different role in your body, and most are extremely important for your health.

Gut health
Multiple foods have multiple health benefits.

These microbes are now recognised as an extra organ within our body, and astonishingly, they weigh roughly the same as your brain (1-2kg).

So what’s the key to a healthy gut and therefore good overall health? In short: food diversity, and more specifically, plant-based food diversity. Plants contain different types of prebiotics, which are the types of dietary fibre that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. The guidance is to aim for 30 different plants a week. This may sound intimidating, but as someone who has been aiming for this for the last couple of months, I promise it’s very achievable. 

Focus on variety

Focus on a variety of wholegrains, beans and pulses as your main carbohydrate sources. Examples include brown rice, quinoa, oats, chickpeas, lentils, and different types of beans. 

Eat the rainbow

Aim to eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs across the week, rather than repeating a few staples. If you are worried about buying too much to get through before it goes off, buy a mixture of fresh and frozen fruit and veg, i.e frozen mixed berries, mango, pineapple, peas, edamame (soya) beans. 

Eating a diverse range of plants supports a healthy gut. 


Choose plant-based recipes, as they typically mean lots of plants in one dish. There are so many amazing cookbooks and resources out there. Some of my favourites include Rebel Recipes, Bosh! and Deliciously Ella

Tracking your food

Find a way of tracking your weekly plant-based food count. I started by making a list on my phone in the notes section, but then Deliciously Ella added a plant counter to her recipe app. It’s 99p a month, so well worth it as you get access to a huge number of recipes, too. And if you make one of her recipes, you can click ‘I’ve eaten this recipe’ and it will automatically add all the ingredients to your tracker. 

Nuts and seeds

Go wild for nuts and seeds. Top your porridge with nut butters; sprinkle toasted pine nuts over salads; add crunchy cashews to your curries; add a tablespoon of mixed seeds to your smoothies. 

This article was initially published in issue 6 of Wicked Leeks magazine. You can read the full magazine for free on Issuu by clicking here


Leave a Reply

  1. Hi. Loved the article. In it you mention frozen berries and other fruits, many out of season. Great, if you were to stock them I would buy from you rather than have to go elsewhere. Same applies to nut butters, are Carly’s a company you would deal with?

  2. I’m just flagging up the likely connection between gut health and SAD syndrome. Having suffered with disabling SAD since getting severe fungal food poisoning 40 years ago, leading to M.E. and 40 years of gut problems, I discovered a year ago that dried chilli flakes seemingly killed off the hostile gut organisms, and after a much healthier year in 2023, this year I appear to have no SAD syndrome. I hope this is helpful to some other sufferers out there.

  3. Such a seemingly new and interesting subject. Our gut flora seems to affect every part of us. I should not be surprised at this, since we are made so complex.


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